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"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17

If You Believe, You Will Receive

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on December 28, 2014

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 A sermon given on Luke 1:39-56

If You Believe, You Will Receive Transcription

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

Today as you know is the third Sunday of the Coptic month of Kiakh just one week away from the Holy Christmas.
And as you know the church divides the first chapter of Saint Luke gospel into four parts to read part of it each Sunday in Kiakh month.

The first part about the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel sent to Zacharias the priest the second week the appearance of Archangel Gabriel to Saint Mary giving her the good news and today the visit of Saint Mary to Saint Elizabeth. And finally next week will be the birth of Saint John the Baptist and then the Christmas or the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So all the readings today the Lord Himself wants to reveal His mystery to His beloved people. So we want to focus on three words repeated many times in the readings today. The first is serve, the second word - promise, the third word - mercy.

Through reading all the readings from yesterday to the gospel of the liturgy you'll find these three words repeated many, many times. Yesterday in the Vesper when we came to the last part of the gospel of the Vesper yesterday from the book of St Mark first chapter, He revealed for us the mystery in a very, very, very nice way.

He said to us, "But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever and they told Him about her at once so He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up and immediately the fever left her and she served them."

 

1. So the first word – SERVES

When the Lord healed Simon’s mother-in-law He healed her and the first sign that she was healed she started immediately to serve others.

 

 And the first sign that St Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit, last week she received the treble relationship with the HolyTrinity. The archangel Gabriel said to her God the Father will overshadow you, God the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will give birth to God the Son. So being filled with the Holy Spirit, the first sign she started to focus not on herself but on others. While the archangel Gabriel gave her the good news he spoke with her about Elizabeth. So the first sign that you know that you are filled with the Holy Spirit you would find your eyes directed not to yourself but to others. So she started to think about Elizabeth and she went to serve Elizabeth for three months.

 

So the first word – serve. Service it is not the goal of the Christians but it a sign that the true Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit.

So service is not an action but a reaction. So our goal is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and the sign that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, to start serving others.

So He took her by the hand and lifted her up and immediately the fever left her and she served them.

 

2. The second word it is the PROMISE, the promise.

And it is very clear from the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans, his book about Abraham and how God promised Abraham and Abraham believed in this promise. The Lord promised Abraham, the word promise of the Father, He did not promise Abraham to have a son but He had promised Abraham to be a partaker of His divine Nature. So what is the promise? The Lord Jesus Christ came to us to fulfill the promise of the Father to each one of us.

 

Sometimes we think that the goal of my creation is to go to heaven and spend eternity with God.

That is the goal? No, that is not the goal!

 

The promise of the Father is not to go to heaven, but the promise of the Father is to receive the Holy Spirit!

 

So when the Lord Jesus Christ spoke about the Holy Spirit He said “This is the promise of the Father”, so the promise of the Father is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ came to take our nature in Him and to abolish the sin from our nature and to renew our nature, so our nature can be ready, can be worthy to be united with the Holy Spirit. This is the promise of the Father.

 

So let us go to read what the Holy Spirit said about Abraham.

So this is the promise of the Father, in the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans he said “Abraham not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body already dead since he was about a hundred years old and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief but was strengthened in faith giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform and therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone it was imputed to him but also for us it shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” He promised Abraham, and He not only promised Abraham, He promised all of us in Abraham. What is the promise? Abraham was dead, he was about one hundred years and his wife’s womb was dead. But Abraham believed that He who promised him can fulfill.

So today is the promise, not only for Abraham but for all of us. And the role of God, His Grace, is to promise, and His promise is not to give us eternal life but His promise to give us HIMSELF, His Spirit! The promise of the Father is His Spirit.DO YOU BELIEVE IN THIS?

So there is a word. The Lord said to the Canaanite woman, today in the Matin’s gospel. He said to her, “Daughter, great is your faith. Let it be to you as you believe.” “Let it be to you as you believe.” That woman believed that the Lord can heal her daughter and she gained this.

Abraham believed that the Lord can give him a son in his old age, and he gained this. And St Mary believed that she can conceive the Son of God and she gained this.

 

Whatever you will believe you will receive. Do you believe in the promise of the Father?

The promise of the Father is not to the Church but it is you personally, for you and for me. Do you believe? His grace is to promise us.

 

Our role is two things:

1.      To believe in this. If you believe, that you, through the grace of God, you can be, how can I say it?, you can be equal to His Son Jesus Christ, you will receive this!

2.      When you believe, you have to walk in love. So it is clear from the Epistle of St John, he said in the Catholic Epistle, “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

 So let us summarize what we’ve said.

1. We said the first word is serves. Serves is the only sign that we are filled, that we have received the promise of the Father. St Mary, when she received the Holy Spirit, she started serving others, she started to focus about others, not about herself.

 

2. Promise – God promised you and myself in His Son to receive the Holy Spirit. If you believe in this you will receive THIS! How can I receive the promise of the Father?

1.      BELIEVE. As the Lord said to the woman, “Whatever you believe, you will receive.”

2.      WALK IN LOVE.

That is the two things I have to practice. So I practically accept the promise of the Father.

 3. The last word, MERCY.

The best hymn we repeat many times in the liturgy “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.”

 

And today St Mary, when she visited Elizabeth, she served her. What is the meaning of 'to serve'. Serve is not to do some social activities but serves is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to give the Holy Spirit to others. So St Mary, when she received the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit, she went to visit Zacharias’ house. Just she said “Hello”. She filled both Zacharias, Elizabeth and the child John, the baby, with the Holy Spirit. She served them. So serves means to grant the Holy Spirit to others, to be filled and to grant.

The word mercy: when St Mary praised God, when she enjoyed the presence of the Holy Spirit in Zacharias’ house she said "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.”

What is the meaning of mercy? The word mercy is derived from the Greek word “metrium”. “Metrium” means an organ in the body of the woman called uterus or the womb. The uterus is the place through which the mother protects her child, feeds her child and grows him. So the word mercy derives from the word “metrium”.  So when we say to the Lord “Have mercy upon us” it means put me in your “metrium”, protect me. There is no care above the care that the mother gives to her child in her womb. She gives him food through the umbilical cord. She gives him protection through many layers and fluids around him. She gives him life through giving him her body and her blood.

So the words “have mercy” give me the same relation. Give me life through You, give me Your body and Your blood to protect me and to feed me. This is the word “have mercy”. It is amazing in the reading today when you see the womb of Sarah, the barren Sarah cannot have fruit, and the womb of St Mary who was filled with the Holy Spirit have the Fruit of Life. So in the holy gospel we don’t say “the fruits of the holy spirit” no, it is the fruit in the singular form. There is one fruit for the Holy Spirit, we call it the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. If you’re filled with the Holy Spirit you have just one fruit. So St Elizabeth said to St Mary “Blessed is the Fruit of your womb”. What is the fruit? Jesus Christ Himself.

So when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit you will carry the Fruit of God, the Son of God, Jesus Christ and practically. We practice this every liturgy. Today we are the children of God. We will be under His wings today. He will overshadow all of us. The Holy Spirit will come upon every one of us. And every one of us we will have today the Fruit of the Father. We will go out of the Church having the body and the blood of the Son of God and THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE!

So what is service? Service is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to give the Holy Spirit to others. It is not an action but a reaction.

What is the promise? He promised us not to go to heaven. We are not waiting to go to heaven. That is not our hope. Our hope is Jesus Christ Himself, is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That is the promise of the Father. How can I receive the promise?

1.      If you believe, whatever you believe you will receive. If you believe. If you come to the church to receive healing to your son like the woman, you will receive. If you believe that you will have a son in your old age like Abraham, you will receive. But if your faith is higher than all the things, to be equal to the faith of St Mary to believe that He will give you His promise, you will receive.

2.      Walk in love, love your brother.

Finally what is mercy? To enjoy it while you say it many times in the liturgy, Lord have mercy. Put me in Your womb, protect me, give me the life through You. I don’t have any life away from You. You are the source of my life. You are my hope. You are my healing. You are my salvation and You are my resurrection.

Blessed is the kingdom of the Holy Trinity. Blessed is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.