In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Everything in the Orthodox Church, everything in Christian life, begins and ends with the person of Jesus Christ. All of life’s big questions, all of the issues that confront us each day, have as their center or as their corrective Christ, and have as their answer, Christ. Christianity is not a great religion, it’s not a belief system or a philosophy or even a life-style. In fact, Christianity is all of those things, but much more—it’s belief in the person of Jesus Christ, God the Word made flesh. Everything in Christianity is Christ. And not just simply “lip service” to a belief in Christ. As Christ said, it’s not enough to say we believe—we must live as though we believe. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” If we believe, if we’re truly Christian, then the overarching goal and direction of our life is following the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every breath should be Christ. As I alluded to a moment ago, everything in life is held in reference to Christ. In the last few weeks we’ve celebrated two of the major events in the life of Christ—His holy Nativity, and His baptism by John in the River Jordan. Two clear Epiphanies—two revelations by Christ to the world of His mission. God has become man. God gave Himself entirely to us in the person of Jesus Christ. He became all that we are—born of a woman, growing and learning, working, able to accept baptism at the hands of St. John, able to humbly undergo crucifixion and death, and ultimately to rise again on the third day. Christ took on every aspect of human existence. And this is mankind’s salvation. This is why Christianity is all about Christ. God became man. He offers us communion, intimate knowledge of Himself, and He does it with utter humility and love. Taking on the form of a servant. He revealed Himself to us in the most complete way we could hope for, in a way that we can identify with the absolute most fully. He became what we are. With no sin! He clearly shows us by His life that sin is not a natural part of human existence. He has to come and die to offer us release from the slavery of sin that we voluntarily choose. In fact, from a proper theological vision, Christ cannot sin. I always used to think that our salvation was tied up in a willing decision by Christ to not sin, and then to offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice. But Christ could not sin. He was, and is, God. And God can’t sin. But not being able to sin doesn’t lessen the humanity of Christ in any way. Because we aren’t meant to sin. Sin is not part of human existence. It’s below us, it’s something less that we choose. Christ is the perfect man. We’re created in His image—which He fully revealed in the fullness of time. Our salvation is not tied up with a defeat of sin by Christ’s human will. Our salvation lies in the fact that God the Creator loved us so much that He sent His Son, the Word, to become what He had created. Just ponder the humility of God—the Creator became part of His own Creation, and then allowed Himself to be treated like a common criminal. Our salvation is our relationship with Christ, the Godman. A relation He offers fully and freely. Christ became all that we are to show us all that we’re created to be. We’re created. from the beginning, to share in the bounty of God. What we know about God is revealed in Christ. And what we know about humanity as we were created is revealed in Christ. In the Christian life, everything is seen through the lense of the life of Christ. Now, from this point in this homily, I can go anywhere. Because the starting point, and the ending point, is Christ. We could talk about icons or saints or the worship of the Church or the ascetic life of the Gospel. But all of these things have one purpose—to point us to Christ. To lead us to Christ. To deepen our love for our God. To lead us to a saving relationship with Christ. God created man; God loves man, and offers us life with Him; man rejects God time and time again; in His love and for man’s salvation God became man; He gives Himself fully to us solely out of love—to offer us salvation (life with Him). This is what the Christian life is all about. Living, breathing, experiencing, God. Life in the constant presence of God. Christ tells us the kingdom is within, and it begins even now. Christian life is life with Christ in the Kingdom of God—a life we begin now, and a life that continues for all eternity. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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