Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Genealogy of the Messiah

Who in the world can make a sermon that brings tears to your eyes from, of all texts, the genealogy of Christ? A genealogical list! So-and-so was the father of so-and-so, and he was the father of…”

Fr. Anthony can, that’s who, the priest at St. John Chrysostom parish in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He simply reminded us who some of these people were. King David, who sinned with Bathsheba. (And yet, from that union was born, by God’s mercy, King Solomon - who in turn sinned grievously.)  Rehoboam, who split David's Kingdom in half and it was never the same again. Rahab.  The prostitute, but he didn’t say that in front of the children.  And others whose lives read like soap operas, says Fr. Anthony, crossing himself as if asking forgiveness for pointing out someone else’s faults, and adding, “You really ought to read these stories, read the Bible sometime…” These are people whose lives make our own look pretty routine. “So, you know what?” he asks, with a shrug. “If these people could make it [crossing himself again ], even becoming ancestors of the Christ, then you can make it, too. Don’t give up on yourself.”

I turned to Rose with outspread hands in amazement. We both had tears in our eyes. Oh, yes, there’s hope for you and me, and that Hope was born in Bethlehem. “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”


Rosko said...

Father Anthony is a wonderful priest!

Emily H. said...

We love Father Anthony! He's a treasure from God to us!

Chris said...

The priest, Fr. Elias Issa, at my local church, St. Basil the Great here in Kansas City, gave a very similar sermon, but went ahead and talked about Rahab and exclaimed that she was a prostitute which echoed through the dome of the church so everyone heard it including innocent little children. :)

It just shows you that people like Nestorius and Arius were really, really wrong. Even if there was some logic behind their heretical arguments, that there is such a gulf between created and creator which cannot be possibly unified, Christ's coming in the flesh truly shows that he did come to redeeem the human person from all the gamut of sins that his own ancestors in the flesh had committed.

I think a better ending for Fr. Anthony's sermon would have been "Don't give up on yourself because Christ didn't give up on them, nor on you." Just mho.

Benjamin Harju said...

It's always easier to come up with an improvement when you're sitting comfortably in front of a computer, and not standing in front of a congregation mixing preparation with improvisation. Besides, I think he said that very thing by his entire composition.

God has shown great mercy sending us to such a blessed priest (not to mention the congregation, too!).

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

It wasn't even what Fr. Anthony said, though that was powerful enough; it was who was saying it, so that the Holy Spirit took ordinary words and winged them, transforming them into the Words of Life.

To improve on his sermon, one would have to be a holier person than Fr. Anthony, and that, dear friends, would be a tall order.

Dixie said...

I am ever so slowly getting caught up on this end...and even now I should be working for work but need to take a few minutes to comment here.

Fr. Joseph Huneycutt posted a video statement from St. Vlad's about the Manhattan Declaration and the first comment was "What was the point of converting, baptism (into Christ, I'm told) and all ... if I was already his brother in Christ?" If only this poster could have heard Father Anthony lovingly explain how all Christians were on the journey and yet how it is our desire to bring all to Holy Orthodoxy, the Church, which can best assist them.

Father Anthony has made such a HUGE impression on me. I am so thankful that he is the Harju's priest and thankful that I had the privilege to sit at his feet and "see" as well. His one comment about "once you know Christ you could never want anything else more" came directly from his heart and is the sound of hope for those of us walking the Way.

I also can't help but think God has a special purpose in having Father Anthony serve in Fort Wayne, Indiana...the home of Lutheran orthodoxy. If anyone from the seminary is thinking about Orthodoxy...they'll get the real deal from him.

That weekend was the best Christmas present I could have had...even though the snow kept us at the hotel and church the whole time. We really didn't need more than that.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!