Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Do Not Neglect the Very Things of Salvation

Do Not Neglect the Very Things of Salvation

Homiletic sermon delivered Sunday January 20, 2007 by Fr John Brian at
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission in Madison, Wisconsin.

First, discussing the different Easter dates - then focusing on the scriptures for the day in this order: Hebrews 2; Proverbs 9; Isaiah 55; end of John 1; and 1 Peter 3.

These are among the readings appointed for the post-Epiphany period in Orthodox Syrian Church calendar year.

Pray for our mission efforts.
Listen here:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Eagle and the Grasshopper

The Eagle and the Grasshopper

As told by Mubarak Nawaz, Hyderabad

Once upon a time there was a grasshopper, who through diligent practice
became one of the best hoppers in the land. She loved hopping so much, she
began teaching other grasshoppers how to hop. She was very disciplined and
required they faithfully follow her commands. She told her students what to
eat, when to eat and how to eat. During their practice sessions, she barked
out orders telling them exactly what to do.

Soon, baby grasshoppers that had never hopped before were learning how to
hop, adults that could barely hop were hopping much better, and even those
who already were good hoppers could now hop much higher. The teacher felt
very fulfilled.

Then one day a creature showed up that she had never seen before - an eagle.
She was determined to teach the eagle how to hop, as she was certain that
hopping was the path to fulfillment and enlightenment. But every time she
approached the eagle, he just said, "There is no need." She kept trying, but
the eagle insisted, "There is no need." Finally, at a large gathering of all
the grasshoppers, she pointed to the eagle and announced angrily, "No matter
what I say or do, this stupid eagle will never learn how to hop. He does not
understand us."

The eagle looked at the grasshoppers and said, "You are content with
hopping, but I can fly."

"Stop this foolish talk of flying!" screamed the teacher. "Flying is just
imagination and fantasy." She turned to the grasshoppers and said, "Any time
such thoughts arise, immediately focus your energy back on your hopping -
this is how you will become enlightened."

"You know nothing about flying!" said the eagle with a commanding voice that
silenced the grasshopper. The eagle turned to the grasshoppers. "I can show
you a world far beyond your grass fields. If you listen to me, I will teach
you all to fly."

The eagle waited for them to respond, but when he looked around, incredibly,
all he saw were blank looks on the faces of the grasshoppers. He walked
away, very sad.

Later that day, while soaring far above the tall grass of the fields, an
insight emerged from deep within the eagle's innermost being. He realized
that to communicate with the grasshoppers, he would have to speak the
grasshopper's language - the language of hopping.

The next day, the eagle returned to the grasshoppers' world and began
hopping with them. The grasshoppers were surprised. Not only could the eagle
hop, but he could hop as well as any of them.

The teacher kept a wary eye on the eagle. She feared her grasshoppers would
get swept away by the eagle's stories.

But the grasshoppers were curious and some of them began to sneak away to
talk to the eagle. "How is it that you know how to hop and yet you talk of
flying? It goes against our teacher's orders."

"Hopping is useful, but when you can fly, it is no longer necessary."

"Tell us more," said the grasshoppers.

The eagle began describing the world beyond the grass fields, a world that
included mountains, rivers and oceans. He sensed they were nervous but
assured them was nothing to fear.

The grasshoppers asked, "What's it like to fly?"

"When you are flying, you are totally at peace. Sometimes, I feel like I am
connected with everything and watch as everything happens automatically
without any effort on my part. I am no longer an eagle flying, but I become
flying itself."

Later that day, a solitary, brave grasshopper approached the eagle and
asked, "Can you take me flying?"

The eagle nodded and gently took the grasshopper in his powerful talon. With
a few beats of his wings they were aloft. Circling overhead, the grasshopper
could see the mountains, rivers and ocean that the eagle had described, far
beyond the familiar grass fields. Careful not to go too high, the eagle soon
returned the grasshopper to the ground.

Hearing the commotion, the other grasshoppers rushed over to find out what
had happened.

"He took me flying!" announced the brave grasshopper proudly, but then
admitted, "I got dizzy. I didn't like it."

"But our teacher has told us that flying is just imagination." said another

"Bless your teacher and be grateful to her, for she has taught you to hop,"
said the eagle. "But now you know the truth."

The eagle looked deep within the eyes of the brave grasshopper. Though she
was still a bit dizzy, he saw a spark within her very being. He looked at
the others and saw that the spark was already spreading to them. Soon, they
would no longer be content with just hopping - they would all want to fly.

"My work here is done," announced the eagle abruptly. "Some day you will all
learn to fly!"

"But if you leave, who will teach us?"

"Rest assured, as it has always been, when the student is ready, the teacher
will appear."

With that, the eagle unveiled his powerful wings and soared off into the

God Sees, Come and Show Yourself

God Sees, Come and Show Yourself

Homiletic sermon delivered Sunday January 13, 2007 by Fr John Brian at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission in Madison, Wisconsin.

Focusing on the prophecy of Isaiah Chapter 49 in light of Acts Chapter 2, Ephesians Chapter 1 and Matthew 4:12-22.

These are among the readings appointed for the post-Epiphany period in Syrian Church calendar year.

Pray for our mission efforts.

Monday, January 07, 2008

God is Here, Where Are You?

Sermon delivered Sunday January 6, 2008 by Fr John Brian
at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission in Madison, Wisconsin.

Focusing on the meaning of Nativity and Epiphany - God's manifestation.

Pray for our mission efforts.