Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok: It is painful to live in this ephemeral world because everything is built on sand — on sins like selfishness, vainglory, and self-promotion. People who live in this world unwittingly begin to play this game, and it is really difficult to stop doing it and begin to live a thoughtful and God-seeking life, where God is the cornerstone, unlike in the lives of ordinary people. No one in this world needs Christ because the whole world lieth in wickedness (1 John 5: 19). That’s why if we genuinely want to become Christians, we will have to struggle against ourselves and this world. There is sin inside us. Given favourable conditions, it may surface out. At the same time, we have already witnessed God’s love, and we can no longer survive without it. This ambiguity and this suffering, in which a Christian is born, can sometimes be very hard to endure. And yet, we have to move on.
Sin literally killed us humans. If we want to resurrect, we have to ascend to the cross voluntarily and go through a great deal of suffering of our souls and our consciences. Only then will we be restored. Sure, you can adapt all things in the Church and Her worship to please this fugacious life. Is it reasonable? It isn’t. Jesus tells every person: Follow Me (Matthew 8: 22). We reply, “Wait, we have things to do, we have too little time and too little energy to follow you. We want to keep running.” No matter how fast you run, sooner or later you will find yourself in the grave. On the other hand, we keep talking about eternity, the soul’s ascent and progress, and its transformation… The Church nurtures us and teaches us to be able to say, “No, that’s wrong. I don’t mind losing everything if my soul remains with God.” May God grant you courage and patience!
Sermon before the Confession on August 12, 2017
Priest Sergius Faley: Remember the Gospel story about the paralytic who was carried to Jesus on his bed by his friends? The house was filled with people who had come to hear the word of the Lord and to be healed. It was impossible to get inside. They disassembled the roof and suspended the bed with the paralytic right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He told the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” (cf. Matthew 9: 2).
This is similar to what happens when we pray for the deceased. A deceased person is like a paralytic because his or her agency is frozen: they cannot help themselves. Our private prayers, and especially prayers of the Church and her members are a meaningful way to help them. We pray that the Lord would forgive their sins. Those deceased who have already had their sins forgiven, pray for us, and God helps us thanks to their prayers. May we all have such people among our ancestors. However, if we don’t have such people, the Lord has brought us to his Church and given us the chance to pray for our deceased relatives with faith.
Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on October 27, 2017
Priest Valery Zakharov: Trusting God means staying in full submission to his will. God acts only to the extent that we open our hearts to him. God does not address our minds. He addresses our hearts.
Sermon after the Divine Liturgy in the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs on August 5, 2017
Having received a blessing in the church, we return to the turbulent world. Our task is to make it peaceful. It must not infect us with its turbulence but instead it should receive the peace of Christ from us so that our family members wouldn’t hide away from us but on the contrary, seek our company to receive some light of God’s grace, which we must radiate by carrying it inside our hearts and never losing it.
Sermon after the Divine Liturgy in the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs on November 11, 2017
Priest Sergius Nezhbort: People are afraid of evil spells or black cats. In fact, they themselves are the people that they should in all honesty be afraid of. This is why we need sanctification and purification. The Lord keeps sanctifying and purifying us all the time. This is the mercy of God that we cannot accept without humbling down.
I had a conversation with one of our sisters lately. She complained that she could not take communion. I asked, “What’s wrong?” — “I cannot get ready: sometimes I don’t read all required texts, sometimes I don’t fast for the required time, sometimes I’m late…” I asked another question to clarify, “How long ago did you take communion for the last time?” — “Oh, it’s been a while, I don’t even recall it, and I am afraid I won’t take it again.” Here is a person who attends church regularly, and still cannot take communion…
We all sometimes want to bargain with God: you do your part of the deal, and I’ll do mine. I read canons for your sake, and you reward me for my feats. Sometimes you have to get used to the fact that right now, you are totally unworthy, your spiritual life is the worst of the worst, but regardless of all that, you come to God and ask him to accept you in his Kingdom, like the good thief on the cross. That is the moment when one feels God’s grace most often.
Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on August 14, 2017
Let me tell you a story. There were two brothers, and the older brother found a seashell. Normally, he would just grab things and keep them. This time, he gave the seashell to the other brother, which was unusual. I said, “The Lord will comfort you now that you’ve committed such a heroic act!” And we continued walking. Hardly did he walk ten feet that he asked, “Well, when will the Lord comfort me?” I replied, “Just keep walking; the Lord will certainly comfort you.” Ten feet later, he said, “Why?! I gave up all I had, so to say, but God does not comfort me…” The Lord comforted him eventually, of course. It seems to me that it is typical of us. Sometimes we give up something. It may be even less significant than a seashell. And we sit there waiting for God’s grace to fall upon us. If it doesn’t come in a couple of days, we feel indignant: why, what’s wrong, where’s God, why doesn’t He stay true to his promises? Nonetheless, we must remember that the Lord will definitely comfort us, and it may happen when we don’t expect it.
Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on August 13, 2017
January 22, 2018