Book: Understanding the Bible

understandbibleI was sent an examination copy of UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE: A GUIDE TO READING THE SCRIPTURES which Saint Mary’s Press is selling for $10.95.   It is a small one hundred page introduction to reading the Bible as well as to understanding the Bible itself.  It has a lot of very helpful information for anyone wanting to understand what the Bible as a whole is about – how the books of the bible were chosen to be in it, some background information about interpreting the bible, a glossary of terms, a few charts and maps.  For the price it is a good buy.  It was written for Roman Catholics, but most of the writing is factual information and thus useful for the Orthodox as well.  Unlike the ORTHODOX STUDY BIBLE which mostly focues its attention to Patristic writers and a Patristic reading of the Bible, this little book offers  a summary of information that scholarship has brought together to help believers understand the scriptures.  While much of the information is readily available in other books and in bibles that have extensive notes, if someone is looking for one small book to help learn the basics of Bible reading, this would be a decent choice.

Sermon on the Rich Fool (1992)

Sermon notes 1992        (Ephesians 2:4-10)   and   Luke 12:16-21Today in our community we have been blessed by being witnesses to the baptism of Paul B…. It is a blessing for us in many different ways. We all have seen a child of this world born again as a child of God. We have watched Satan being thrown aside. We have caught a glimpse of the unending life in God’s Kingdom. In addition to all of these blessings, we each have had a chance to hear again the words of the baptismal prayers. These same prayers were once said over each of us. So at each baptism, we are given the blessed chance to renew our own commitment to God. We come to understand at each baptism what it is that God expects of each of us in this world, since each of us are also baptized into Christ.

I want to remind you briefly of one reason why we do baptize so that you can today more fully appreciate the baptism of Paul and your own baptism.

We baptize in order to give a new birth and life to people. We are born into this world as a child of this world. But this world, although filled with many tempting pleasures, can ultimately lead us only to sickness and death. For this world is a world corrupted, made sick, by sin, by a separation from the life-giving God. Through baptism, Paul, you, and I can now live for the true life, the spiritual life of God’s Kingdom. This is true life because it is unending life, and life without sickness, nor sorrow nor any pain whatsoever.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.           (Ephesians 2:10)

We all are the workmanship of God. God fashioned each and every one of us for life with Him. However, that beautiful craftmanship of God has been badly battered and scarred by the evil of Satan, as well as by our own rebelliousness against God. The eternal beauty has been lost in us. Christ Jesus came into the world to restore that beauty to us. In baptism, the dirt and filth of this corrupted life are washed away in order that true beauty of the spiritual birth can be revealed to us.

As St. Paul said, God created us for good works in Christ Jesus. God intended us to do the good works of His blessed Gospel commandments. He wants us to “walk in them”. To walk in them means to follow them and to do them. But that must be our own choice. We must train ourselves to do the good which God has set before us. This training which is the discipline of Christ’s disciples is something we all must choose if we want to preserve the beauty of the baptismal life. To all of us today, but especially to Paul’s parents, godparents and grandparents, it is up to you to train him in the way he should walk to keep the beauty of God’s workmanship. You have baptized him, now you must teach him how to be a disciple of Christ.

One aspect of being God’s child and disciple was taught us in today’s Gospel lesson. The rich man who was storing up great wealth for a life of ease in this world, only to discover that he had to die. Since he had lived only for himself and his own pleasure, he found himself totally impoverished when he died and came face to face with God. All of us who are baptized, think about this lesson. To walk in the way of the Lord, means not to live for a life of greed and getting more wealth in this world. The riches we accumulate in this world will do us no good in the world to come. Because when we die, we will leave all of this wealth behind. We must choose to despise worldly wealth and to live for God’s kingdom. For the Lord Jesus clearly taught that if we use the goods given to us for the love of God and of neighbor, those riches will be stored up for us in the world to come.

Remember the lesson of the rich man. All of us are to teach the lessons of Christ. The best teacher is our own EXAMPLE.

O Lord, help us to enter upon this spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well pleasing to you. Amen.

The Parable of the Rich Fool

nikolaivelimCommenting on Luke 12:16-21, the Parable of the rich fool, Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic wrote that a man so blessed should have not been boastful but spoke to God in a spirit of Thanksgiving:  

“Jesus spoke a parable unto them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying: ‘What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?” He was not just rich; he had such a yield from his harvest that he did not know where to store it. Looking at his wheat-covered fields, and his orchards and vineyards whose branches were weighted down by fruit, his gardens overflowing with all kinds of vegetables and his hives full of honey, this rich man did not look towards heaven and cry out with joy; ‘Glory and praise to You, O most high and merciful God! How great an abundance You have, in Your power and wisdom, brought forth from the black earth! You have, through the sun’s rays, poured sweetness into all the fruits of the earth! You have given every fruit a wonderful form and particular flavor! You have rewarded me a hundredfold for my small labors! You have had mercy on Your servant, and have poured such gifts from Your full hands into his lap! O my most wondrous Lord, teach me to give joy to my brothers, sisters and neighbors with these Your gifts. May they, together with me, rejoice and thankfully glorify and praise Your holy name and Your inexpressible goodness.'”