Sermon by Fr Andrey Lemeshonok the day of commemoration of New Martyrs

"What's the use of church?"

February 26, 2021

Happy Sunday. My congratulations to those who received Holy Communion and all those who came to the house of God on Sunday, which is the first day of the week. We should, of course, start it by doing our best to dedicate it to God. Today we commemorate New Martyrs and all others who laid down their lives for Christ. Due to them, we're in this church today. Due to their courage and confession, we're here to learn the basics of spiritual life. But we don't know what will happen to us in future. Because the world still is—and has always been— an enemy of Christ and all those who chose to follow Him. The world that lies in wickedness will spare no effort to destroy the Church and tempt as many people as possible. To divert them to barricades, rallies— anything but not the Church. What's the use of the Church? Praying to God? No, let's pray to freedom. They've been trying to introduce their freedom since the French Revolution: 'We will build our new world.' There won't be anything new in this world. That's clear.

A believer in God is definitely dangerous to this world because believers understand what's going on. Others aren’t dangerous as they're gullible enough to accept all they are fed. It didn’t happen overnight that the greatest Orthodox empire broke up. There had been rot already in its spiritual foundation because materialism had penetrated into the hearts of people. The better they lived, the harder they strived to live even better. More ease, more comfort, less grief. That's the reason behind it. Holy people said that wouldn't last because only what contains the Spirit of God can last. Once after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia a schema monk on Mount Athos was asked how it happened that the country had broken up and everything sacred had been profaned and fouled. He replied, 'It’s different. Do you know what's going on? These are days of glory for the Russian Orthodox Church. Thousands are becoming saints and are praying at the throne of God for holy Russia.'

These martyrs keep on praying for us now so that we don't retreat, don't come to terms with the world, with this Mammon trying to crawl into every soul and foul it. It's easy today. Just open your eyes and open your screen. That's it. You'll get everything there. Except repentance, holiness, fidelity or true love. The world urges man to self-destruction. We see it happening throughout the planet. That's how it happens today. What's going to be tomorrow, we don't know. I think tomorrow we'll get what we need for it. Let's carry our cross. We should carry the cross of Orthodox Christian until the end. But we don't live a Christian life, do we? That's our greatest problem. We all would probably like to be with Christ, but live different. We are constantly looking backward, sideward, keeping our ears and eyes open for what people say or write, for breaking news and gossips… Waste of time. They will say or write nothing good. Not a single good word. Nobody needs Christ. He's an outcast. The world crucified Him, but He resurrected!

The world tries hard to raze all churches to the ground and erase the very memory of them. But churches multiply and people come to God for they feel man can't live without God—turns into an animal otherwise. Not an ape—much worse. Apes deserve respect. What does man become without God? A terrible creature! But Christ said, 'I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' That blind man who was sitting by the roadside and hearing the crowd pass by. He cried, 'Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!' And our Lord heard him. He knows what's in the hearts of people. And He came to the blind man who kept on crying, although the crowd rebuked him. We have similar experiences, when hard times come and we see no way out. It may seem to us that even God is unable to put everything right. That He can't change it. We come to think God doesn't hear us. No, we need to cry on. Whatever hard times our close ones have or we ourselves, or our children, or those who we love.

Whenever it seems there's no way out. There's always way out! We should keep on crying, 'Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!' And our Lord will open our eyes. We're yet so blind. We don't see a lot. We don't understand a lot. But we feel and know that we can only have future with God. Only with God can we open our eyes and see everything as bright as that blind man started seeing. And follow Christ, glorifying God. Where to? Christ leads us to our own Calvary where we will be crucified with all our passions and lusts, our vanities and high thoughts of ourselves, with all our foul smelling pride. You see? It smells. Today's world gives us a beautiful box— with a cesspool inside. Not many can see that they live in a cesspool. That what they get—what's advertised to them— is the husks for the swine. In contrast, our Lord gives us His birthright. We received the Body and Blood of Christ today. This is the Holy food for Christians without which they cannot live on Earth.

What can be done to Christians? They can only be killed. But if they are killed they become martyrs. They only become stronger. This world can't defeat Christ. Much as it gnashes its teeth, it can do nothing. So, let's follow our Lord. We've got plenty of inner work to do ahead of us. When we get peace inside us, there'll be plenty of good outside. With God, plenty of good can be done. 'Fear not, little flock.' There won't be many of us. We won't be a crowd. But God will be with those who stay faithful until the end. 'God's strength is made perfect in weakness.' So, happy Sunday to you all, my dear, and may God give us strength to follow Him on our way through this earthly life. Glory to Thee, O God! Glory to Thee, O God! Glory to Thee, O God!

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