Christian sermon about repentance

We connect to God by praying

December 15, 2020

man near the lake

Time flies. It is ticking away - week after week, month after month, year after year. The longer we live, and the faster it flows, the closer it brings us to the end of our earthly lives. Wise men will use this time prudently for their greatest benefit. This means always keeping in mind things that matter the most, and not overlooking them while going about our daily routines, however important they may seem to us at a given moment.

Of all possible uses of our time, prayer is by far the most rewarding, as it keeps us connected to our Lord. In prayer, we keep a conversation with Him; we contemplate Him. As we hurry through our lives with so little time to stop and think, what better way do we have to fill the void in ourselves? Nothing other than prayer will do it, not even our good deeds. When we stop and think, and exercise some humility, we can begin to question ourselves, "Where am I? What is my situation? What is the place of God in my life?" Imagine someone who lives a straightforward, trouble-free life, which is suddenly disrupted by some unexpected development, sorrow, or temptation. His comfortable world begins to fall apart. He loses his temper, he becomes angry and judgemental. Lacking the habit of self-restraint or self-criticism, and a captive to his passions, he just goes into free fall. He tries desperately to stop, but he still keeps falling. He knows that he should get quiet, but he keeps on saying things that He should not. He is out of control, and this causes him great harm.

We will be lucky enough in this situation to find within ourselves an emergency brake which we can pull and stop right where we are. But what next? Where do we go from there? How do we mend fences with our loved ones? How do we go on with our lives? Do not ask me. God will know, and He will guide you if you care to ask Him. Just keep asking, do not stop knocking on the door of His mercy, and He will let you in eventually.

Sometimes we might feel just too exhausted; it might seem to us that we no longer have the energy to live on. Something is holding us back so hard that we cannot bring ourselves to get out of bed. We feel powerless to make the slightest move. But we should not give in to our weakness. Remember, it is only an illusion and we must keep going. We owe it to our loved ones and to ourselves. We have a goal to follow. We must stand up and get to work, and we return to life little by little when we begin.

"We must not wait for favours from Nature," said one Russian biologist and practitioner of agricultural selection. Nature is in a bad shape these days, so what kind of favours can it offer us? Instead, we always expect something bad to happen - sorrows, losses, or pains. Some might fall into despair because of this. But do not let yourselves despair. Remember that all of this is a part of our lives, and life is always a struggle. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (Psalms 125: 5).

Human history can be told in only a few key events and notions, like the creation of the world, the original sin, and man's separation from God. Our forefathers closed themselves off to Him and to His Kingdom by refusing to repent, even though this was the only way to reunite with Him. We all remember very well what Adam and Eve were saying when they committed the original sin (Genesis 3: 1-12). The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The first people lay all the blame on God. They refused to take responsibility for their misdeeds. Adam said: "I could have been in paradise. It is all my wife's fault." His wife was saying, "Why did You let the serpent into that garden? The serpent tempted me..."

And so the story continues, right into the present. Did you realise how difficult it is for most people to admit responsibility and say: "I am sorry, it was my fault". People find it much easier to blame others. "I was provoked, I was deceived, I was not to blame," they might say. Sadly, we are still very far from being able to admit our wrongs before God and our neighbours and make them right. Where people are willing to change, they will. But where they are bent on making excuses, they will blame others. They might sound convincing enough, but this does not change their situation or make their plight any easier. We must begin to learn something from our histories of missteps, misdeeds, and ramblings. We must learn to weigh every word and thought, and value every day of our lives. We must turn to God in prayer, diligently, and regularly. We must remember that true prayer is not a text from a prayer book that we read aloud, but a means for us to connect to God and have a conversation with Him.

We should keep a conversation with God with words, but also with our hearts and our minds. This is always hard work, but let us not use it as our excuse for waiting any longer. We must begin right now.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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