The Transitory Nature of this Life
I responded to a house fire on Vashon Island late Monday afternoon. The home was in a remote location and the fire fighters were hard pressed to get to the house in time to save it. They arrived to find a locked gate with a high fence, delaying even further their arrival. One corner of the house was already fully engulfed.
I'd been working on correspondence in my study when I heard the first siren, and the moment I heard the fire truck I also smelled smoke. Stepping out on the porch I could see a large plume of smoke southeast of the monastery. Before my pager went off I was in my vehicle, camera in hand. Fire chaplains often take on the role of station photographer, documenting fires for their departments.
When you live in the heart of a forest, a fire can easily consume far beyond the place of origin. This fire seemed to have started in a fire pit, quickly burning through tall grasses until catching the house on fire. The occupants were not home at the time, so no one was injured.
The thought of the home owners returning to find their house destroyed, left me feeling sad. In the eight or nine years I've served as the island's police and fire chaplain, I've witnessed far too many similar incidences. It is never easy to see families suffering loss, be it a house fire or a sudden death.
Ultimately, all is transitory and there is no real security in this life. A number of years ago a fire in our own forest came within one foot of destroying the Saint John Chapel. I've not taken anything for granted ever since. Natural disasters and the economy have deprived countless American families of their homes and the future does not look bright.
Most of us do not even own our homes, since taxes and mortgages are like a form of rent and make us vulnerable to banks and the Dow Jones. Everything in this life is transitory and can disappear in a moment of time. Even our own life can end abruptly and without warning. Yet as Christians we keep moving forward, embracing whatever God has placed before us. Worrying about the future keeps us from focusing on the horizon and trusting that God is there with us every step of the way.
This life has been given to us as a time of preparation for the eternal life that is our inheritance as God's children. The transitory nature of this world will end when God's kingdom is ushered in and we all stand before the Great Judgment Throne of God. Loss, pain and suffering in this world will have not been in vain if we embrace everything as an occasion for transformation of self. To stand in the presence of God for eternity requires that we be deified, and all of life's suffering is meant to help prepare us for an eternity of communion with the Holy Trinity.
With love in Christ,
Tuesday August 16, 2011 / August 3, 2011
10th Week after Pentecost.
Dormition of the Holy Virgin Fast. Food without Oil
Venerables Isaac, Dalmatus, and Faustus, ascetics of the Dalmatian Monastery, Constantinople (5th c.).
Venerable Anthony the Roman, abbot (Novgorod) (1147).
29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
1 Corinthians 15:29-38
Effects of Denying the Resurrection
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
A Glorious Body
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
Jesus’ Authority Questioned23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.”
And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.