Well, the holidays are here; family arrived and are ensconced in their hotel room – we are waiting their arrival at our house, while the Steelers play football (youngest son’s favorite team) and a cinnamon loaf is baking.
I had a wonderful chat with my dad this morning and a great email from a dear, dear friend (miss you tons, too!). My day started with my husband waking me in my chair downstairs. All this cleaning and moving around, in addition to our rainy/snowy weather, has wreaked havoc with my arthritis and the most comfortable I could be last night was in my chair, with my heating pad, dog and cat, and a cup of tea to choke down some Tylenol. I am blessed with a great chair my kids call, “The Throne.” Ha-Ha…I do tend to get in place and stay there on Sundays, while watching football or reading a book. The animals love to sit with me and the kids call it my “pet blanket.” Anyway, I woke in a relatively pain-free state, which was nice.
As I slept in my chair, I was thinking about my post yesterday and the friends who commented or came forward. I also had a wonderful chat with our oldest son last night. Because of that particular chat, I dreamt about buying a new house (we have to relocate soon – a long and rather ugly story) and digging a new foundation with a bunker…no, I mean, basement! Ha-Ha! With all the chatter about the violence and gun control, as a family of avid hunters and fishers, someone taking our guns is not something we support. In a weird way, it reminded me of the scripture verse: 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might also be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus might also be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” And that may seem a stretch but not really. Our lives are a matter of focus. We are earthen vessels; we are just bodies. The power is God’s. All that may take place (like the change in government or the change in laws) may trouble us on every side (and make us want to build bunkers) and some of the choices our government makes for us may perplex us, but we should not despair! If our focus is on the sacrifice Christ made for us, we will remain cognizant of the manifest power of God. A saying has been posted in social media recently that says, “No matter who is President, Christ is King,” and still others like “Countries may pass, but the Nation of God is eternal.” These need to help us think and focus. Rather than getting upset with people who let us down, governments that change and seemingly oppress us, faith communities that perhaps disappoint us, God is Eternal; Christ is King.
Before we receive Communion in the Eastern Churches, we recite the prayer at the opening of this post – “Remember me O Lord, in Thy kingdom.” I will not pretend to be a Christian, claiming Christian ideals and then betraying “Christ with a kiss as did Judas.” We should, rather, confess Christ like the thief. I usually wear either a Jerusalem cross or the Cross of St. Andrew, and here is why:
The Orthodox, Byzantine or Russian (Orthodox) Cross is a variation of the Christian cross, commonly found in Eastern Orthodox Churches. The cross has three horizontal crossbeams—the top represents the plate inscribed with INRI (Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”, in Latin), and the bottom, a footrest. In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the lower beam is slanted: the side to Christ’s right is usually higher. According to Russian Orthodox tradition, when Saint Andrew was preaching in southern Russia, he used a similarly designed life-sized cross and tilted the footrest to show that those on Christ‘s right would ascend to Heaven, while those on Christ’s left would descend to Hell. Consequently, in the Russian Orthodox Church this cross is sometimes called the Cross of Saint Andrew.
In our Byzantine tradition, the footrest to the right is pointing to the good thief, who confessed Christ on the Cross and went to heaven; the left side, which points to the other thief, the one who refused the Salvation of Christ and went to hell (which is why it points down). This is another way of thinking about the scripture talking to the talents and the workers. When the first workers show up to a field, the owner pays them a full days’ wage. Late in the day, another worker shows up and he also is given a full days’ wage. Some people think that it is unfair that those who “show up late” to salvation can still “get the good seats” in Heaven with Our Lord, even after a life of debauchery and evil. Pascal’s wager (http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/pascals-wager.htm) is another way of looking at it.
Where is all this leading me today? I think that I cannot judge others. I can barely keep up with my own spiritual miasma. Who am I to say if a friend has let me down, that I need to just let go of that, rather than hang on to my disappointment or my pain? Christ told me on the Cross. Who am I to judge anyone, when I am still struggling myself, perhaps even a repentant thief on the “cross of life?” I pray daily, “Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner;” the Jesus Prayer. I continually beg for mercy and as I do, I beg mercy for all of us…good and bad alike; friend or foe. Because really, all our lives come down to our last moment, our last breath. “Accept me today, as a communicant…” and then, please, “remember me O Lord in Thy Kingdom…..”