Tag Archives: presence of god

The Nourishment I Need

In my daily life I have to be extremely careful about what I eat.  I have to avoid all traces of gluten and soy.  If I am accident-ly exposed to gluten, the consequences are unpleasant and life disrupting.  I have embarrassing gastro-intestinal problems, I am too weak to even climb stairs at times, and I get bad headaches.  This is a consequence of my body not being able to properly absorb nutrients following gluten exposure.  I eat, but what I eat doesn’t make it to my cells.  So, taking vitamins and making sure I get proper nourishment is essential for me to function.

But what about my spiritual nourishment? I have to eat, neglecting food for too long leaves me grumpy and weak.  Too often I forget that neglecting God for too long leaves me grumpy and spiritually weak.  I need daily, hourly, nourishment from Him.  It is easy to brush off prayers in the morning, saying them while doing other things or neglecting them entirely.  It is also easy to be “too tired” in the evening to spend time with God.  But, like my body eventually noticing lack of food, my body eventually notices the lack of God.  In His grace and mercy He is always there, waiting for me with open arms, welcoming me back to His presence.

I take this continuous presence for granted sometimes.  God is always going to be there, to be “out there.” There will be time for Him later, on my terms, when I can sit down and take a break.

But God won’t be there forever.  At some time in the future, maybe even in the next day, (or the next hour!) I will be called before His judgement seat.  What will I say when I get there? Will I have been so busy with the rest of my life that I don’t recognize Him? Will I be ashamed to stand before Him and give an account of myself? Most importantly, will I be able to respond with love to His loving call to me?

This season of Lent is supposed to be a time of increased discipline, of increased prayer.  I have failed.  And in that failing I feel even more keenly the call of My Father.  He’s there, waiting for me with open arms, if only I stop being self-absorbed and un-disciplined, and instead slow down and worship Him.  It’s an easy thing to say, but not an easy thing to do. But God, in His grace and mercy, always calls to His children, the entirety of the human race – even those that do not yet know Him, or those that are too busy for Him.

In a little more than a week we will again hear the Paschal sermon of Saint John Chrysostom:

… If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour. And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.

It’s never too late. I come at the eleventh hour, but my Lord, who is Love, awaits.  If only I take the time to nourish my body and respond to Him.  Glory be to God.

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Bread Transformed

I’m not going to pretend to have any deep thoughts about what happens when we take communion in the Orthodox Church.  There are plenty of blogs and books that can explain this mystery much better than I can.  But, I do want to describe what it means to me, especially since transitioning to this gluten free lifestyle.

During the liturgy, we believe that we are entering into the presence of God.  This is not a symbolic presence.  We come into the Presence of the Living God, along with all the saints from ages past, present, and future, the seraphim, and the cherubim.  At the height of this worship and celebration is the Eucharist: the receiving of the body and blood of Christ.  Through taking the body and blood of Christ into our own bodies, we join with Christ, and we join with all other Christians receiving the life-creating body and blood.  This joining is not merely symbolic, an exercise of our intellect, but is a physical and mystical reality.  It is “communion” in the greatest sense of the word.  We become the body of Christ. As a finger is an integrated part of our body, we are an integrated part of Christ’s body, with Christ as our head.  We are joined, united, to Christ and to all others.

As we believe that we are not just symbolic members of Christ’s body, we likewise believe that the Eucharistic sacrifice, the bread and wine, are not just symbolic of Christ’s body and blood.  Somehow, during the Eucharist we pray that the Holy Spirit will come down and transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. And we put our faith in God that He will do this.  The bread and wine, while remaining bread and wine, is also at the same time so much more than bread and wine.  It’s the physical and mystical reality of Christ.  It tastes like bread and wine, it feels like bread and wine, it looks like bread and wine, but at the same time that bread and wine is the deifying body and blood of Christ.

Why am I going to such great lengths to describe this?  Because I don’t get sick when I take communion.  In my normal life, I am sensitive enough to gluten that even a few crumbs of cake or a swallow of beer is enough to cause digestive problems and make me sick.  But, somehow, with faith and trust in God, and fear and trembling, I approach the cup, consume the Body and Blood of Christ / bread and wine, and don’t get sick.

I don’t understand why I don’t get sick, but the transforming power of God is at work. Glory to God.

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