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Deal or No Deal? - Part 3

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on July 9, 2009

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"Call No Man Father"

Deal or No Deal? - Part 3 Transcription

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Deal or no Deal

Part 3

Call No Man Father

 

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God Amen.

We thank You our dear Heavenly Father, we thank You dear Lord for bringing us here today. We thank You for this blessed chance that we get to get a little bit closer to You. And we really pray dear Lord that You would teach us something about You today. Teach us about Your body today and draw us a little bit nearer to You. Our only desire in life dear Lord, is to get to know You better and to become closer with You. And I pray that You would really open up our hearts to get a message from You today. Pray this all through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercessions and prayers of all Your Saints, hear us as pray thankfully:

Our Father

Who art in Heaven

Hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from the evil one

Through Christ Jesus our Lord

For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the Glory forever Amen.

Alright, grab a seat, and those who are getting coffee, stay getting your coffee. I'll give it over here to Sherry. Sherry.

<Sherry talking now>

Hi, I was really nervous about coming up here today. And then I was thinking about what Abouna said last week, that praise and worship and everything that we do for God is not for ourselves at all, but for God. I apologize that I don't have a guitar, nor do I know how to play one but hopefully we can just think of this song as a prayer. I think most of you should know it.

<Sherry sings “Better is One Day in Your Courts”>

<Transcription starts at 5:53. Abouna Anthony continues his talk>

Good job guys. Good job. Ok, coffee line is still going. Sorry about that, we had a little technical difficulties with the coffee but hopefully everyone will get a cup. That's okay, keep going with the coffee, keep going with the coffee.

If you are just tuning in today for the first time, we are continuing a series that we are calling Deal or No Deal. And the whole premise of this series, if you've been with us for the last couple of weeks, is we are trying to get the million dollar jackpot, which is in this briefcase over here, down there. And as we said before, there are many many briefcases out there that look the same just like in the show, but our goal is to find the one that has the grand prize inside. And the grand prize is the New Testament Church.

And we were talking about how there's many churches out there which try to say they are like the New Testament Church and they are similar to the New Testament Church. Our goal is to find, “Where is that New Testament Church?” Because what we agreed upon is that our Lord Jesus Christ lived on this earth and started a Church. Back in Jerusalem, 2000 years ago, was its headquarters and that Church has continued on ever since. And what I said in the beginning and what we are proving every week, is that Church is found in the Orthodox Church.

And what we looked at last week, is how our worship, the way we worship God, which is the primary reason for the Church existence, in the Orthodox Church matches the way that the New Testament Church worshiped and we also said it also matched the way they worship in Heaven. If you missed that one you can go online and check it out.

What we are going to get to today is another volatile subject which causes a lot of people a lot of problems when it comes to the Orthodox Church, which is the issue of priesthood.

This is one of the hardest ones. This is the one that I can see it written on peoples face, when you bring someone, especially not someone coming from a Catholic background because they are used to priests, but coming from an Evangelical background or a Protestant background. This is one of the hardest things for people to get used to. Right off the bat they see the Church, okay this and that, then all of a sudden in steps the guy dressed like Bin Laden with the hat on his head and the beard on his face, and all of a sudden you see the looks being like, “Who let him in?”

I remember I was first ordained in 2001, and it was November 2001, so obviously it was after September 11th and all that kind of stuff. I'm telling you I'd be walking through the airports, I'd be walking through the airports, and people would be looking at me like, “I'm on to you buddy. I'm on to you buddy.” And everyone looks like they've just found Bin Laden or something like that.

For many people they can't get their foot in the Orthodox Church just for the appearance of me. Or because of the idea of having priests and calling them fathers. I know one guy who struggled with it so much, he's a friend of mine, he later told me, that he struggled so much he called me Father kind of reluctantly called me Father Anthony, and even afterward he said he would pray in his heart that God forgive him for this great sin that he committed.

And most of this thinking is based on an incorrect understanding of a verse in the Bible, which is Matthew chapter 23 verse 9. There it is. Our Lord Jesus Christ says, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”

So our Lord Jesus Christ is saying, “Don't call anyone on earth your Father.” And then I come to you and say, “My name is Father Anthony.” So right off the bat this isn't very good for the Orthodox Church. This is a troubling situation.

Humor me for a second here and follow me along as I try and explain what this means. Most, not most people, but many people out there think that this verse says that we shouldn't have priests, we shouldn't have Fathers, and we shouldn't have this whole idea of priesthood was something Old Testament, but when Christ came he got rid of the priesthood and doesn't want anyone to be priests, because just like it says, “There is One Father in Heaven.”

So, therefore, they call the leaders of the church pastor, or Reverend, or brother, all those are fine, but any time you use the word Father it's going to cause problems with people. And they will say, the people who are arguing this, will say, it's simple and clear. He's saying, “Do not call anyone on earth Father.” And they say, if you take this verse at face value you will come to that conclusion.

I disagree. I don't think if you take this verse at face value that's the conclusion you come to. And this is what I'm saying. Humor me for a second here as I kinda go through this.

Anyone who is saying that this verse is saying, that you shouldn't call priests Father and that you shouldn't have priests is not taking this at face value. Because it doesn't say that you should not call anyone your spiritual Father. Obviously the people who are saying you shouldn't have priests, are saying there should be no such thing as spiritual Fathers because there is only One Father in Heaven. But it's not saying that. If you take it literally, what it literally says, if you take it at face value, like people say they do, it literally says that anyone on earth, do not call them father. That would include grandpa and grandma, that would include your dad as well. So if you take this at just face value, which no one does, unless they don't have a brain, they would say that you can't call your father, father. You should call him, I don't know, Ed, James, whatever it is that you would call him, it would be.

So it's clear that this verse is not taken at face value but somehow, this clicker is not working very well right now. The verse can NOT be taken literally, that's clear. That the verse can not be taken literally because if you took it literally, then it would mean like I said, that you shouldn't call your father father. But no one in their right mind argues that. So everyone agrees that you can't take it literally which means this verse needs interpretation. Are you with me so far?

What I am saying is this verse requires some interpretation. It requires someone to understand what was meant to be said right here because it's not as simple as just what He's saying. For example, the verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shall not steal,” requires no interpretation. Very simple, don't take something that doesn't belong to you. Do not steal. “Thou shall not murder,” is taken at face value. Any time you take someone elses life, we'll leave that aside. Any time you murder someone it's against that commandment.

This verse cannot be taken at face value. It requires interpretation. So, therefore, if it requires interpretation, then logic says there can be a right interpretation and a wrong interpretation. And just because someone gives an interpretation doesn't make it valid. Follow me here? You guys with me? I started off, logical people should be able to follow me very very good right here. Started off the verse says, “Don't call anyone on earth your father,” can't take it literally because if you did you couldn't use the word father it must be stricken from the dictionary and it could never ever be used again and you could never ever ever call your dad father.

So therefore because it can't be taken literally it requires someone to interpret it to see what it's supposed to mean. To see what the original Guy who said it meant to say when He was saying this verse.

And the third thing I'm saying is, if it requires interpretation that therefore there can be right interpretations and wrong interpretations. Agree? Not all interpretations are equally valid.

I know how the popular opinion today in the Evangelical world and in the Protestant world interprets this verse. But what I want to do, is I want to erase my memory from what I've been taught and say, “I don't care what the popular opinion of this interpretation of this verse is. I don't care what the majority of the people how they interpret this is.”

Let's go back, and remember our goal is to get to New Testament Church. How did the New Testament Church interpret this? How did the original guys interpret this verse? How did the guys who heard it first hand interpret this verse. That's the question we want to get to. And what we'll see today, is that beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's 100% clear that the New Testament Church demonstrated the rank of priesthood slash fatherhood. Clear and we'll see that throughout the rest of our discussion here today.

But the point is, is the way they interpreted it, is very different than the way lot of people today interpret it. And our goal is that what they said should have more validity then what people around me today say. Does that make sense? Everyone clear on that one? That is the basis of our understanding here today. That this verse requires interpretation and we want to see the New Testament interpretation of this verse.

So, with that in mind let's kind of dig on through it. If the New Testament writers interpreted this verse. If the New Testament Church interpreted this verse that, “You can never use the word father in relation to another human being,” then you know what, there's a lot of guys in the New Testament that are in big trouble.

First and foremost is Saint Paul. He is going to be in big trouble if that's the proper interpretation, because what you see in the New Testament, look here, 1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 15, it says, “if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”

Hold on their Saint Paul. Hold on buddy. Don't you know you're not supposed to call anyone father. And you're calling yourself father? This guy's got to be in trouble. And you know what, he has the audacity to go on. Romans chapter 4 verse 1. We're having a clicker issue today, that's okay. Romans 4 verse 1, he refers to Abraham, it says, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh.” This is just one of many examples where he refers to Abraham as our father. He refers to Issac as our father. He refers to Jacob as our father.

Wait a minute. Saint Paul is messing us up right here. We're not supposed to use the word father, right? Well maybe our interpretation isn't necessarily the same way that Saint Paul interpreted it.

Not only that, not only does he call himself father, uses the word father, I could excuse that if that was a sin, but he teaches others to do the same. Look what he says, next couple of verses. 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 2, “Paul, an apostles of Jesus Christ...to Timothy, a true son in the faith.” it wasn't just Timothy, he also said to Titus, called him, “a true son in our common faith,” <Titus 1:4> as well.

So one thing that is clear, is that Saint Paul uses the word father many times. And you never see Timothy responding back saying, “Hey, sorry buddy, reverend, sorry brother Paul. You shouldn't use this word for son and father.” He didn't say that. Titus didn't correct him and say, “You should only have one father and it shouldn't be you.” They didn't do that because it wasn't the way they interpreted the verse.

You know who else didn't interpret this verse this way? Christ didn't interpret this verse this way either. One time our Lord Jesus Christ was telling a story, Luke chapter 16, about a rich man who died, and he went up, and after death he saw a poor man who was Lazarus, who used to sit outside his door, and he saw Lazarus sitting where? In the bosom of Abraham. And in part of the story, Christ is telling the story and the poor man, I'm sorry, the rich man says, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me,” <Luke 16:24>.

So this is in Heaven right now. This is on the other side, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me.” if it was true that you shouldn't call anyone father, what would Abraham's response be right now? Let's see what his response was. “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things...” <Luke 16:25>.

By saying son, you know what he is doing? He is acknowledging the title of father. Right? He is acknowledging it and accepting it, he's got no problem with it, he's got no beef with this term father. He doesn't say, he doesn't scold him or rebuke him, because he does rebuke him for other things, but he doesn't rebuke him for this.

What that says to me is very simple. Is that it's not wrong to have fathers, and the New Testament Church clearly believe in the rank of priests, which we'll see in a little bit, but clearly from what we've seen so far, is that this whole fatherhood thing was clearly seen from the earliest times.

So then what's Matthew 23 verse 9 all about? What's the proper interpretation of that verse that said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father?” What you got to realize is the issue that Christ had was not, was not with the title or the rank of priesthood or fatherhood it was with a specific people who were abusing it.

Because back in Christ's day, the religious leaders, the priests, the fathers, were corrupt. They were all talk and no walk. They used to teach one thing and do something different. They used to lead the people astray and then they just wanted to sit in the fancy seats and have everyone kind of look up to them and kiss their feet.

So what he is saying is, don't be like those guys. How do I know that? Well if you read the chapter and read the context of this verse, Matthew chapter 23, it begins with Christ speaking to the apostles about these bad guys. Starting in verse 2. The whole chapter is like this dialogue he has about the pharisees.

It starts off by saying, “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men.” <Matthew 23:2-5>.

You see what He's saying right here? First of all what He is doing, the beginning, He is giving authority and rank to the office of priesthood. That's what He is saying. He is saying, “Look here, these people sit in Moses' seat so you should do what they tell you to do.” He is not in any way debasing them or taking away their rank or their authority. He's in fact enforcing it. He's saying, “They sit in Moses' seat. I'm the One who put them in Moses' seat, so what they tell you to do you should do it. What I am warning you against is doing what they do. Because they preach one thing and do something completely different.”

And then after that, He says, “Do not call anyone on earth your father.” After that verse, “Do not call anyone on earth your father,” He goes on in verse 13, He says, “But woe to you, scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” This verse, in verse 13, like 20 straight verses where our Lord Jesus Christ is going off on these pharisees and all the bad stuff they are doing and on they way they are misleading the people.

So clearly He is angry at those specific people for the way they are sinning. So what He is saying to His apostles and His disciples is, “I am not getting rid of priesthood, I'm endorsing the seat of Moses. Okay. I'm endorsing the office of priesthood, but what I am taking issue with is the people who are doing it, and I'm telling you, do not be like them.”

The second thing you have to understand about this verse where it says, “Do not call anyone on earth your father,” and I know when I say this one, some people is going to jump at me, and I know this is the one that people won't be able to accept at first. But, what you got to realize is that not every verse in the Bible applies literally to every person. Don't throw stuff at me. Just hear me out for a second here.

Not every verse in the Bible applies literally to every person. This is one of them. This is a verse which applied literally to a specific group of people, at a specific moment in time and does not apply literally to everyone in history of the whole wide world.

How in the world can I say that? That seems blasphemous doesn't it? Doesn't every one word out of God's Word has infinite meaning. How can I sit here and say there are verses that don't apply to us.

First of all, I'm not saying there are verses that don't apply to us. I'm saying there are verses that should not be taken literally by us. Every verse bears spiritual meaning in our life. But not every verse bears literal meaning. Do you believe me? I'll show you a verse right now try to apply it to your life literally. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.” <Luke 1:31>

Does that apply literally to anyone in this room? Anyone? Anyone here know anyone, any other virgins giving birth to anyone outside? Anyone know of any virgins this applies to? This clearly applies literally to one person and that's it. And it was one moment in time. It doesn't even apply to her for the rest of all eternity. It only applies to her that one moment in time that she conceived her Son. It doesn't apply to anyone else. Spiritually, yes, we should all bear Christ in our heart, but literally is what I'm saying. It doesn't bear significance literally to anyone else.

I'll give you another verse, Matthew chapter 2 verse 13, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word.” If I were to do this, take this verse literally, this would not be a good situation. If I were to just up in the morning, take my kid go to Egypt, that would not be a very responsible thing to do. People who own my house, mortgage company would be very upset and there would be all kinds of problems I would create in this world if I took this literally. This literally applied to a specific person, Joseph, and his specific wife, Mary, and their specific Child, our Lord Jesus Christ. No one else.

It's because that not everything applies literally to everyone, that see the apostles knew this, the early Church knew this, that's why there is one point in time when you see Saint Peter calls out to the Lord and says to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” <Luke 12:41>.

What is being said in this verse, what Saint Peter is teaching us right here is that sometimes the Lord would teach stuff that applied to the apostles only and sometimes He taught stuff that applied to everyone. And Saint Peter was not understanding with this one. “Is it to me, or is it to everyone?”

Well I'm telling you, Matthew chapter 23 verse 9, “Do not call anyone on earth your father,” applies specifically, only to those guys in the literal sense, applies only to the apostles at that time because what He is telling them is, “Look here guys, you guys are the heads. I'm giving you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. And on you guys, you guys are the foundation, so you guys don't need to go to the scribes and the pharisees and ask them to teach you. You guys are the fathers and you guys are the ones that should be doing the teaching.”

There's a lot of stuff in the Bible that doesn't apply literally to many people and anyone who argues otherwise doesn't know what they're talking about. Old Testament tells us to go out there and kill people, okay, and kings, am I supposed to go march around Jericho now like a fool and wait for there to be walls? Am I supposed to cross the Red Sea right now? No. That crossing the Red Sea thing, please don't try that at home. Because that doesn't apply to you literally. It applied to a specific person at a specific point in time.

So it's very clear that not only, not only is Christ, with this verse, not only getting rid of the priesthood, but in fact He is establishing it. We think that this...not we think, but some people think this verse means He is abolishing priesthood, in fact it is the exact opposite, that this verse is establishing the priesthood. That He's telling them, that He's commissioning them to go off and be the foundation and not to have to call anyone father.

The other reason why I know that He is not getting rid of priesthood is very simply, who is the One that started priesthood? Was this an idea that, that one of the popes came up with along the way? Let's have priests. Priesthood started where? God ordained priests. It was His idea. It wasn't even Moses' idea. It was God's idea from the beginning of time that there should be a specific group of people who have a specific task, which is ministering to My house, specifically the worship of My house and the articles of worship and things like that. And it was God's idea.

God doesn't change His mind. God doesn't say, “You know what, that was a bad idea, I got a much better idea now.” It doesn't work that way. When God establishes something, it's made to last forever. Some of you say, “But wait a minute. Doesn't the stuff in the Old Testament, doesn't God get rid of that in the New Testament?” Absolutely not. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. How can you say...the Old Testament is bigger than the New Testament. The Old Testament is twice as long as the New Testament and you're going to tell me God wasted 2/3's of the Bible with just stuff to be gotten rid of? Then why do we read it then? Why is it even in there?

Every word is inspired by God Almighty. And when God says, “I want priests,” it means, “I want priests.” So God doesn't abolish nothing. You know what the New Testament does? The New Testament doesn't abolish, the New Testament gives new meaning.

The New Testament gives fulfillment. Every thing in the Old Testament is still around in the New Testament, but in a new light, in a new way. For example, Old Testament they had circumcision. New Testament we don't have circumcision but it doesn't mean that it's gotten rid of. It's just given a new meaning, and now we have baptism which is a spiritual circumcision, because now we move from a physical to a spiritual.

Old Testament we had sacrifices and bulls and all that kind of stuff being offered, it's not that New Testament got rid of it, but it's the sacrifice now is our Lord Jesus Christ the purest Lamb of God. So it wasn't that we got rid of it's that we found a new meaning.

The Sabbath used to be one thing, just sit down and do nothing. Now Sabbath has gotten it's fulfillment in the eighth day, the ultimate day of rest which is the day of resurrection, and it's a day that we're supposed to give to God, not just sit around and do nothing.

What I'm trying to show you is, that He didn't get rid of the old, He fulfilled the old and gave it new meaning. And it's the same thing with the priesthood. Priesthood didn't go away. Why? Because last time I told you, that when we talked about worship, worship, the audience, the end result of worship is God. And as long as God is still there, then there has to be worship and there has to be worship done God's way. And God likes worship done with priests, and altars, and sacrifices, and all that kind of stuff. Not the same way in the Old Testament but in a new way.

So it's very clear. Look at Matthew chapter 5 verse 17. Our Lord Jesus Christ said it Himself, He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law of the Prophets.” Law of the Prophets meaning the Old Testament. Old Testament is summarized by the Law of the Prophets. He said, “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” One jot or one tittle is like an exclamation mark or apostrophe thing, like the smallest grammatical point. He's saying nothing will be abolished it will all be fulfilled.

Priesthood is the same thing. There was priests in the Old Testament whose job was one thing. Priests in the New Testament have a similar job but just with new meaning behind it.

In the Old Testament priests were ordained in a very public ceremony in front of everyone, they brought the sacrifices and all that kind of stuff. In the New Testament was there a celebration? Or was there a ceremony of some sorts? Absolutely there was. The Bible calls it, the laying on of hands. 2 Timothy chapter 1 verses 6 and 7. Saint Paul is writing to Timothy who was like a Bishop, and he says, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

“The laying on of my hands.” The laying on of hands was the ordination of the priesthood. It's how the priesthood was passed from person to person.

I want you to think with me here. Kind of be smart. Why ordination and priesthood happened by laying on of hands? Why didn't it happen by just a prayer? Couldn't it have been, “I ordain all of you guys as priests right now.” If God wanted to, He could have done it that way, but He insisted that it should be on by the laying on of hands.

What comes to your mind when you think of the laying on of hands. I'll tell you what comes to my mind. When I think about laying on of hands, it's like something is being given. Something is being handed over. It's kind of like a baton that's being handed from one person to the next. Something is being transferred. It's not just a, “Hey, all you guys, you all became priests,” or you know, “You, and you, and you, you guys are priests right now.” It's come here and let me give you something with my hand on top of you.

Something is being transferred or handed over that can't be done by words It's a physical, let's not say physical, it's a tangible thing. What is it? Something tangibly is being handed from one person to the next. It's tangible even though it's invisible. But it is tangible. The answer is, it's the priesthood. The priesthood is not a, “Hey, come as you are anyone that wants to be a priest just get a hat size on and all that kind of stuff.”

The priesthood is something which I take out of my pocket and I got to give it to someone else in their pocket. The priesthood is like communion. You can't just, pheww <moving hands as if to throw communion out to everyone at the same time> there you all had communion. If you want to take communion, you come here, I give it to you and now you have it. But it's something that is tangible, and the priesthood is the same way. It's not anyone who wants to become a priest become a priest and anyone who doesn't. It's not like that, it's not a job that you apply for or put your resume. It's something which you, come here, and I give it to you and you go off and do your priest duty stuff.

It's the grace of God which our Lord Jesus Christ Himself instituted it. John chapter 20 verses 21 to 23. This is after our Lord rose again from the dead, it says, “Jesus said to them again, 'Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'” This is the first ordination ceremony for bishops and priests. “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'”

He breathed on them. He brought them close by, He breathed on them. He gave them something. That breath was the Holy Spirit, was the gift of priesthood. It was the grace of God as transferred by the breath.

Did you know that this same thing happens today in the Orthodox Church when someone gets ordained as priest. I imagine most of you have never seen a priest getting ordained. Okay, but I got a little clip right here from a priest that you may know very well. Who once got ordained.

<video clip of Abouna Anthony getting ordained at the 34 minute mark until the 35 minute mark. Abouna Anthony mentions to watch carefully for the laying on of hands and having the Holy Spirit breathed into him.>

I know that you couldn't see it very clearly, sorry it's VHS, and it was done in Egypt and things like that, but what you couldn't see there, this is by the way this is not the ordination this is like the last 5 minutes of the ordination, er, like somewhere near the end there not the exact last. But after a long set of prayers and after I have to do this long professional thing where I say, “I pledge this and that, and to keep the commands, etc. etc. etc.” the Pope lays his hands on my head, and what you couldn't hear is he says to me, okay, I'm the pope, and you're me, he says, “Open your mouth and say, 'I open my mouth and receive the Holy Spirit.'” He said that to me, he said, “Open your mouth and say, I open my mouth and receive the Holy Spirit.”

So I opened my mouth and said, “I open my mouth and receive the Holy Spirit.” And he blew in me. That should sound very similar to what we just read back there in the gospel reading. Because that is exactly how Christ ordained the first apostles and disciples and that's how exactly what our Church does to this day.

What I want you to see is this, which just happened right here, which happens all the time here in the Orthodox Church, was not something that Pope Shenouda in his free time just wrote it up, or came up with the system himself. It's something that the Church has been doing since the beginning of time and the first Person who did it was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and has continued ever since.

This is the way, if you look at the writings of the Church, the early Church, the New Testament Church, it's very clear, one person, an apostle would go to a city, like for example, Saint Mark went to Alexandria, Egypt, and he went and he preached and all that kind of stuff and he didn't just leave, he took one guy, Anianus, and he laid his hands on him, and he breathed in him the Holy Spirit and he said, “I ordain you as the new bishop of this town and this city,” and then that's how it got passed on. Anianus ordained so and so, who ordained so and so, who ordained so and so, so and so, so and so. And the same breath which started from Christ to Saint Mark to Anianus went all the way down it eventually got to Pope Shenouda, and it's the same breath that's breathed in me.

So what I want you to see, is what has been handed to me, and all Orthodox priests, is something that started with Christ Himself. It didn't start with any human being.

So that should hopefully make sense to you guys.

<video clip of the banker talking to Abouna Anthony comes in at 37:24>

Abouna Anthony: Wait a minute, my phone is ringing right here, hold on. Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring. Let's see who it is. <phone rings in background> Oh there it is.

Uh huh. Really. Okay. Okay guys, the banker just called and the banker has said, he's willing to accept, he's making you an offer. He's saying that all this stuff that we talked about spiritual fatherhood he's willing to accept and he's willing to offer you that there should be spiritual leaders, but he can't accept that the Church has someone called a father. He's saying we should all be priests, and he's basing it on a verse that comes from Revelation chapter 1 verse 6. And he's saying, the verse that says, “He has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.”

So what he is saying right now is, that he can accept the idea that there should be priests and fathers and all that kind of stuff, but it should be everyone. And everyone is equal and everyone should be brothers and everyone should be priests and all that kind of stuff. And when Christ spoke about the priesthood, He was saying that all of us should be like priests. You know why? “Because, hey let's, let's think about this. Why just the priests get the breath of the Holy Spirit? Everyone should be able to get it. We're all holy. We're all special people in God's eyes. We should all be able to be like priests.” Right?

I won't answer that question. But I will refer you to one story in the Bible. It's a story that I'm sure some of you know. It's a story about a guy named Korah. The story of Korah comes from the book of Numbers chapter 16. Korah basically said the same thing to Moses. Korah had a beef with Moses, and he said, “Look here Moses. You think you're the only one around here who can run the show. Why you get to be the priest and we don't get to be the priests? Why can't we all be like, why can't we all be like equal? Why can't we all be like spiritual brothers and all be like priests?”

He said it in Numbers chapter 16 verse 3. It says, “They,” meaning Korah and his boys, “gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, 'You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Assembly of the LORD?'”

Sounds similar to what a lot of people would say today. “How can you call one person a priest? We're all priests. He's made us all priests in his kingdom because it's a spiritual priesthood.”

Basically what these guys are saying to Moses is, “Chill out a little bit Moses. Why are you so uptight? Why are you the only one who can be a priest? Why don't you share a little bit man? What makes you so special?”

Again, I'm not going to answer it, I'm just going to read what the Bible says. Later on in verse 31. “Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods.”

I think the answer is very clear there. Look here, it's like we said last week, it doesn't matter what I think it should be. Who cares what I think? Who cares what you think? It matters what God thinks. And if God says there is to be priests, there is to be priests. And if God says it's only these guys, then it's only these guys.

This is not, this is nothing new. From the beginning of time, God said, “All My people are special. And all My people are My kids. But there is one group within them that I want to minister to the holy things and no one else should touch the holy things except them.” And that's why He separated the Tribe of Levi, so these people are not like the rest of them. Even in the Tribe of Levi, He took just the house of Aaron.

So it's very clear that God's way of thinking is, “I love everyone. And everyone is great. And everyone is My kids. But there are certain people with a specific task and their task is the priesthood.”

In order to understand this, understand this, that different is not unequal. Just because it's different doesn't mean it's unequal. And no one is saying that the priests are higher than anyone else. No one is saying that to be high in God's eyes you have to be a priest. No one is saying that. It's different.

Yes we're all brothers because we are sons of God, but some brothers have higher rank than other brothers, right? Wasn't that the way with Joseph? Joseph had 11 brothers. Weren't they all brothers? Yes. But didn't the Bible say that all of them will bow under Joseph's feet? Yes. And didn't because God had a specific plan for Joseph all the people in the world was saved? So being brothers doesn't have nothing to do with priesthood. It's two different things. I would call all of you my brothers and my sisters, but that doesn't take away my priesthood. So don't confuse the two.

Parents who have two kids should be able to see this. You treat your kids equally but not the same. Alright, you treat them both equally but not the same. Dress them the same for all the rest of eternity and stuff like that. They're different, but that doesn't mean they're unequal in any way.

I'll tell you another way I can know it for sure. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Paul in referring to it in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 17, “Therefore, in all things He,” meaning Christ, with a capital H, “had to be made like His brethren.” How can the Bible say that me and Jesus are brothers? Well now we have the same Father. Our Father is God, but that doesn't take away, He is clearly above me. He is clearly has a different role in life then me. Even Christ Himself said it to His apostles in Matthew 28 verse 10, “Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid: Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.'”

So brotherhood does not prevent fatherhood. Brotherhood does not prevent priesthood. So hopefully we solved that one and everyone can move on now.

<Video of the banker comes back up at the 43:12 mark.>

Man, pesky old banker guy. Let's see what he has to say today. Okay. Okay. Okay.

<Clip ends at the 43:21 mark>

He's saying that he accepts the priesthood and the spiritual fatherhood. But he is offering to you right now, if you're willing to accept it, the same thing, but he's not down with the whole kissing the hand kind of thing. He's willing to accept the priesthood, but he's saying you can have all the good stuff with the priesthood, but in another church we don't have to kiss the guys hand or nothing like that.

So he's saying that the kissing the hand thing is no good because really it's like worshiping the priest and we shouldn't worship the priest, and who cares, and what if it's a bad priest and why kiss his hand, and sanitary and not sanitary and all that kinds of stuff.

Good question: why kissing the hand? This one a lot of people don't know the answer. Kissing the hand...some people think we kiss the priests hand because he's a holy man, he's a good man, and he's a blessed man, and therefore we honor him, he's a good man, therefore we kiss his hand. Now while that, I can see how it applies in my specific case, that's not, believe it or not, why we do the whole hand kissing thing.

Believe it or not the hand kissing has nothing to do with the man. It has nothing to do with the guy whose hand you're kissing. And if it did, if it did then you'd discretion, that guy I like, that guy I don't like. It's not that. Kissing the hand, believe it or not, goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. From the earliest days of the Church the priests have had their hand kissed and it's preserved in the majority of the Orthodox Churches today. Why? We don't kiss the hand of the priest, of a man, we kiss the hand that touches the Body of Christ.

We're not honoring the person. When you kiss the priests hand, what you're doing is giving special honor to the Body of Christ which, none of you touch, which no one touches except the priest when he puts it in your mouth right? So because the priests hands have that honor, you're giving that honor to the Body and Blood of Christ, but not specifically to the priest.

Look what our Lord says in Matthew 23 verse 19. It's very applicable in this situation, He says, “For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?” I would change that to say, “which is greater, the hand, or the Body that sanctifies the hand?” The Body of Christ that sanctifies the hand. You know like, I don't know if you've ever done this, but one time I took a trip back to the motherland, back to Egypt, and if you've ever been to Egypt for more than 2 days, you can't wait to come back to America. I had this situation where I once had to be there, for believe it or not, 2 weeks. 2 weeks back in Egypt. First thing I did when I came back, it wasn't just me it was a group of us together, we did the same thing as soon as we touched American soil, we kissed the concrete ground that we were standing on. In the middle of the airport, right there. Full metonia, boom, right there, middle of the airport, threw the bags down, kissed the tile, like it was the first time we had ever seen tile. Why? Because I love tile? Because I miss ceramic? No. Because I missed what he ceramic stood for, which is the good ol' US of A. And I missed my homeland right here. And because of that, my expression for my love for the country was seen in my kissing of the ground. I think some of the people who kissed the ground with me are in this room as well.

The same thing with the Body of Christ. We kiss the hand out of honor to the Body of Christ. And hopefully that should solve all our issues for today.

<Video of the banker comes back up at the 46:58 mark.>

Hello? Okay. Gotcha, I knew that would come up.

<Clip ends at the 47:08 mark>

Last offer that the banker is making to you today. He's saying that you can have the spiritual fatherhood and the priesthood. You can have the hand kissing because it's important. But why in the world does the priest need to look so funny? Why can't the priests look normal. Why does the priest got to dress like this? Why he gotta dress like this? Why he gotta have a beard on his face?

And the banker in this situation is trying to make your life much easier, and he is trying to make a specific offer to you and he's got some pictures of what it is you could have if you choose his offer. So the first is a very professional look <image of Abouna Anthony in a business suit>. A very dignified kind of a classy thing. So you could have that if you choose. You know you can have your people dressed like this.

One that's a little bit more comfortable for my style <image of Abouna Anthony in a Redskins uniform>. You know, that one fits me a little bit better right there.

And then, you know, in case you're going for a more casual look <image of Abouna Anthony in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans>.

So he is making you an offer. That you can have all the stuff in the priesthood, but just looking in a nice, more normal shell.

Now while I, in a very selfish and individual kind of a way, may be inclined to at times vote for some of these particular looks, the truth of the matter is, as much as we don't like it, God's servants got to stick out. And specifically the priests.

Priests can't blend in. This goes back to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, God, like I said, called a specific tribe of people, the Levites to be His tribe. And He called a specific house in there, House of Aaron to be His priests, and once He made that decision, first thing He did was change the way they dressed. That's the first thing He did. He said they need to dress in this kind of a robe and this kind of a thing. The Bible has more than 2 chapters dedicated just how the priests should dress. And a lot of it, you'll see a lot of parallels, we kind of talked about this last week, between what they wore, and what us as priests in the liturgical services and things like that.

But the point is, is that from the beginning of time, even before priests, God servant must be separate. God's servant must stick out. God's servant can never ever blend in. It started in the very very beginning. When God wanted to create a people for Himself, first thing He did was with Abraham. First thing He made Abraham do was do what? Was to separate from his land. He needed Abraham to be separate. He needed him to go to a separate place, live in a separate place, speak and do all kinds of separate stuff. God needs our separation. And any time that God wanted to do something great with His people, it starts with separation first.

Eventually there was a group of people who were consecrated to God, and they were called the Nazirites. Maybe you've heard of that before. Group of people called the Nazarites of whom John the Baptist was one of them. These people were especially consecrated to God, and they wouldn't shave, Samson was another one of them who let his hair grow and all that kind of stuff. Look what it says about the Nazirites. Numbers chapter 6 verse 2, it says, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When either a man or woman consecrates and offering to take the vow of a Nazirite to separate himself to the LORD.'”

And it goes on to talk about the different things that He needs them to do when they take this vow. But the principle is that when you want to consecrate yourself to God, then you must be separate. Separate in appearance, separate in all that other kinds of stuff. There's a spiritual significance to it beyond just the kind of the plain ordinary just looking funny.

First thing is to realize, the principle of sticking out is what's Biblical. Specifically the black robe is not. This came about, people back in Egypt used to wear, they wear galebeya's they wear robes. So what it was, was taking what the people wore and just making it black. Black not to symbolize death and all that kind of stuff. Black wore to symbolize separation, different.

Let me tell you the spiritual significance and I am sure you will appreciate it. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I want to blend in, I can't. I can't. I can't just show up downtown on a Friday night, just kind of walk into a club and just kind of, I can't. Even if I want to with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I can't, it's not going to work, something has to give. The hat has to go. Something has to go. I can't just show up like this. I will stick out like a sore thumb and there will be a circle around me, you know, it just won't work.

That's the way God's people should all be, especially God's servants. And anyone who considers themselves a servant of God should be the same way. And my question to you is, if you consider yourself a servant of God., devoted to God, and a minister in God's house, do you stick out? I had no choice but to stick out. You have a choice. And you can make that choice whether you blend in easily or you stick out. God wants His people to stick out in a nice way. Someone once told me, if Christianity was illegal, would anyone call the cops on you? If it was illegal to be a Christian, if it was illegal to be a believer in Christ, would anyone point you out. If not, I'm not going to say you need to wear a hat or anything like this, but I hope that in some way you can stick out as well. Because that's God's plan for all His people.

This is not torture. This is not, I didn't do this just so I can be tortured. Just so I can, God didn't do this just so I can be miserable in life. God did this as a reminder, because remember, the whole idea of priesthood, like I started at the beginning, priesthood is not, I'm not your teacher, I'm not to be a disciplinarian, I'm not to be an administrator, I am to be, first and foremost a father. That's what a priest is. And a father's number one job is to set an example. And the example that the Church wanted to set with this is, the way I stick out like a sore thumb, that you should stick out as well.

Last verse that I'll tell you right here, in case you still don't buy this whole priesthood thing, Hebrews chapter 5 verse 4, Saint Paul is speaking about the priesthood, and he says, “And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.” If you don't buy anything that I said. If you don't believe me, the bottom line is this, sorry, it doesn't matter so much what you believe, it only matters what God says is true. And what God says is true is, I want priests in My house. So as long as God says it, even if you don't accept it, you don't believe it, it doesn't make that much of a difference, because God is very clear, “Just as Aaron was, that I am calling other people to the same honor, which is the honor of the priesthood.”

Let's stand up for a prayer.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God Amen.

We thank You our dear Heavenly Father, because you haven't left us outside, but You called us to be Your special people. And once we became Your special people You didn't leave us without guidance, but You've given us fathers. And I don't know where I'd be if it wasn't for my spiritual father. And I don't know where any of us would be if it wasn't for our fathers who are there to guide us. We thank You dear Lord that You thought ahead of us and you saw that we needed it, to have fathers and guides, and we needed to have priests to minster to us and lead us. And I thank You dear Lord that you haven't denied us of this great blessing. I really pray dear Lord that we would change the way we think, to really just look and see what You say and accept whatever it is You say even if it's not what we want to accept and even if it's not what we've been taught to believe. We want to accept Your word, because Your Word is all that really matters in the end. Give a special blessing to our gathering right here, a special blessing to everyone who asked us to remember them in our prayers. A special prayer for our Church, our father Abouna Bishoy for Tsoni Irini, and all those who have asked us to remember them in our prayers, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercessions and prayers of all the Saints who have pleased you since the beginning, hear us as we pray thankfully:

Our Father

Who art in Heaven

Hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from the evil one

Through Christ Jesus our Lord

For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the Glory forever Amen.