“…scoffers will come…”

Acts 26.18“Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come to scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3: 3-4).

The readings today were pretty awesome. Sometimes you read Scripture, that has been planned for a particular day, and in God’s grace it fits perfectly into your day!  Tonight our priest is coming (hopefully with his wife and children for dinner, too) to bless our house.  I am righting things, disrupting the dwelling places of the ever-elusive dust bunnies, and making our home shine.  Why go to all the trouble?  Because tonight, through the holy hands of our priest, and through the prayers of all of our family, our home will become a place of blessed repose; a safe-haven, if you will, from all the negative, evilly-induced ugliness outside our doors.

Now, saying this, there will be those who scoff.  They see no reason to bless a house.  They will tell me that God is present, blessing or not, and when we gather in prayer as a family, He is there.  I know all of that.  But we have some beautiful traditions that make our lives “supernatural” in the sense of allowing the divine to enter our everyday lives through prayers, incense, and blessings.  You know how you feel better, sort of have a sigh of relief and comfort, when you get all your various insurance policies in place – just in case?  Or how much more confident you feel, knowing your dad has your back?  Or when you have asked people to pray for you and you can feel the power of that prayer, helping you through a rough time?  Just holding the hand of a friend or loved-one during a rough patch can comfort you beyond anything you thought?  Blessing our home is like that, in a supernatural way.  There will always be those who scoff, who believe nothing has changed, nor will it ever.  But Peter has something to say about that further along in his letter, “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard delay, but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. ‘But the day of the Lord will come life a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved in fire,and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.’  Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion…Therefore beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace…Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability.  But grow in grace and in the knowledge of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity.” (2 Peter 3:9-18)

Holy Water Bottle2I think that our culture is riddled with those who scoff at people of faith, who make fun of those trying to abide in peace, in Christ.  And people make fun of those of us who try to do that little bit more, that extra, like having our homes blessed.  I will confide that I have already blessed my home myself. I always bless things.  My kids will attest to bottles of Holy Water in the oddest places…I keep them on hand, just in case, like an insurance policy. I blessed our car and rental truck before we ventured on our 2,000+ mile move; before my son left to war, I blessed him.  Whenever my kids were off on their own, I blessed them. I would often go into their rooms as they slept, checking on them, and making the sign of the cross on their foreheads, in blessing.  We do these blessings all the time.  We often say, “God Bless you,” even when people sneeze! Ha-Ha.

Archmandrite Karelin. FamilyThe prayers that are cited when a home is blessed are some of the most sublime the Church has given us.  “God Our Savior, you willed to enter the house of Zaccheus for his salvation and the salvation of all who were in the house: now keep safe from all harm those who dwell in this house, and who, together with us, unworthy though we are, offer you prayers and supplications.  Bless this their dwelling and preserve their life against evil.”  And the priest then walks through the house, sprinkling holy water and saying, “May this house be blessed in the name of the Father (+), and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit (+), Amen.”  Another of the prayers says, “Deliver those who dwell therein from every attack of the enemy.”  They are simple prayers.  They are short prayers.  A blessing can take, maybe, ten-minutes. (Unless your home is huge or you want outbuildings and your entire property blessed). But the time spent blessing your home is a time when we have asked that God come into, and be a part of, our domestic Church.  The place where we raise our children, share our lives with one another, and where we truly live – we rejoice here, we cry here, we live and we die here.  Home is the place from which we go out into the world, sharing God with all the people we bump into along the path of our days on this earth.  How comforting to know it is a blessed place.

Elder Sophrony1Scoffers will always scoff; detractors will have their comments.  But I would prefer to have my home blessed, to further enhance the life we live in our home.  I would prefer to ask God’s blessings on all I do, even to where I live and if I sneeze.  And speaking of sneezing, I need to go chase some dust bunnies before Father arrives this evening….