Christ is born!
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
As 2021 comes to an end, we can ask ourselves what do we have to look forward to? St Paul’s advice would be the same as it was 2000 years ago: look to Christ, to God’s Kingdom. We might remember St Peter walking on water and becoming terrified by the storm raging around him and he began to sink into the roiling waves. Keep your eyes on Christ. The world always seems to have some storm brewing and the tumultuous politics of our time might make us quite afraid. Our faith is in Christ, not in princes or politicians. Even without the worrisome raging storms and surging seas of life, life in its calmer moments can still distract and disorient us.
St Theophan the Recluse muses:
“The question arises: how can we hold the Lord in our attention while busy with various activities? This is how it can be done. Whatever your occupation, great or small, reflect that it is the omnipresent Lord Himself who orders you to perform it and who watches to see how you are carrying it out. If you keep this thought constantly in mind you will fulfill attentively all the duties assigned to you and at the same time you will remember the Lord. In this lies the whole secret of Christian conduct for one in your position, if you are to succeed in your chief aim. Please think it over carefully and adjust yourself to this practice. When you have done this your thoughts will cease to wander hither and thither.
Why is it that things are not going well with you just now? I think it is because you wish to remember the Lord, forgetting worldly affairs. But worldly affairs intrude into your consciousness and push out the remembrance of the Lord. What you should do is just the reverse: you should busy yourself with worldly affairs, but think of them as a commission from the Lord, as something done in His presence. As things are now, you fail both on the spiritual and on the material level. But if you act as I have explained, things will go well in both spheres. (THE ART OF PRAYER, pp 235-236)
Most amazing words from an ascetic monk like St Theophan: We don’t serve the Lord by forgetting worldly affairs. Rather, we serve the Lord when we immerse ourselves in worldly affairs while simultaneously seeing these affairs as our God-given opportunities to practice the faith and serve the Lord. The world is not completely depraved. It is God’s creation, fallen in sin, but still the very place where we can do God’s will and make the light of Christ present to the world.
I wish each of you a blessed New Year. May you always have the sense of God’s presence in your lives to give you hope and direction. Let Christ be your light in the New Year and make yourself to be a lit candle to drive away the darkness, which certainly offers more hope to all than any cursing of the darkness you might utter.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 5:8)