They say “Christmas is for kids” and that is an intoxicating lie, but ONLY if we resign ourselves to not growing up in our Universe Changing Orthodox Faith.
It is a particular temptation in our increasingly secular society where it seems everything in the public realm is reduced to sentimentality and all about our “feelings.” But that perpetual kindergarten mentality only guarantees a childish life instead of the robust and profound life we were all meant to have.
But how do we escape the clutches of this insidious and childish slavery? Well, it won’t happen if we allow ourselves to be governed by our sentiments. Growing up means the hard work of embracing reality and refusing to lie, or refusing to accept that our faith is merely pious stories meant to comfort or control us.
Look at our lesson today in Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1-8:
Brethren, about Melchizedek we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the work of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.
All week we’ve been looking at the book of Hebrews as we move closer to the Feast of the Nativity. And at the heart of Hebrews is the whole notion of “better.” The Christians who were from a Jewish background were considering leaving Christianity and going back to their Jewish practices because times were tough for Christians when St. Paul preached this letter to the Hebrews!
And now St. Paul takes off the kid gloves and pushes these believers, and us as well, and plainly tells these wavering believers to “GROW UP!” He uses the story of Melchizedek from Genesis 14 to get their attention. This mysterious figure in the Old Testament appears to Abraham after Abraham has won a great military victory and Abraham pays “tribute” and a “tithe” to this king of Salem (“Salem” means Peace. hint, hint!). And Paul says he has lots to say about this, but these believers can’t take it because they have not matured to the place where they can take the “strong meat” of the profound revelation of Jesus Christ. He tells them (to their shame) that they need “milk, not solid food.” You can almost see Paul holding up a jar of baby food to these believers to illustrate his point!
And then he hits them with the cold water of reality. There’s no going back! You can abandon the Faith in Christ, but you can’t go back to when you didn’t know about Christ. You can become unfaithful or a bad Christian, but there’s no crawling back into the cradle of where you came from! Time to leave the “elementary doctrine of Christ” and really explore purposefully this Amazing Message of God becoming flesh for our salvation!
As we are just a few days away from the Feast, our faith can’t stay in spiritual kindergarten forever. We simply cannot live in the fantasy world that our faith can stay childish forever. The only choices are either to be unfaithful and Orthodox in name only OR to finally Grow Up and really be Orthodox on Purpose!