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We are never worthy! December 16, 2012

Posted by daniel ayad in History & Tradition.
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One of the most interesting aspects to living a Christian life is the constant battle between pride and humility. It is commonly taught (and rightly so) that pride is the most dangerous of all vices, and thus subsequently pride is the root of all sins. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5: 5), and how we need this grace!

Jesus Christ spoke a lot about humility. Some of his teachings that stand out to me include the saying that unless you become like a little child you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven, and also  when Christ called the Pharisees and teachers of the law hypocrites like whitewashed tombs! On both of these instances the people were thoroughly ‘in’ the church, i.e. the disciples of Christ and the teachers of the law were viewed as good spiritual people.

What you can gather though, is that being inside the church and serving always means that you are at risk of being exposed to pride. Yes even some of the disciples of Christ were proud at one point in time! The devil will leave if you don’t care about your spiritual life, but he will most definitely not leave you when you struggle to serve the God he despises.

St Paul despite all his great achievements viewed them as nothing, and pressed on towards the goal of Jesus Christ. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 12-13).

There is a nice story told of the saintly Abbot Sisois who was dying at the age of 100. As his disciples gathered round him to see how the great master was going to die, they heard him praying that God would give him more time to repent. His disciples were amazed. They said to him, “You are asking for time to repent. You are a master of the art of repentance.” He replied, “I am just beginning to learn the art.” After all those years of struggle and spiritual growth, he was still excited about growing, realising the unlimited potential of the bonding between God and man.

The Christian life is thus a constant growth from the image of god to the likeness of God. A Christian person is called to never stop learning and never stop serving. You should never stop praying, never stop reading spiritual books, never stop listening to spiritual talks, and most definitely never stop serving God.

All the works we do, we should say it is all for the glory of God and not of man.

Now part of the reason I am sharing the above is because I was recently ordained as a subdeacon, the third rank of deacons in the Coptic Orthodox church. The conditions for this ordination are:

  1. He is not to be less than 20 years old in normal conditions, except if he is brilliant and outstanding in the church’s service, he is wise as the elders and as honest as the saints.
  2. To be recommended by the people and priests.
  3. To everyone witness that he is of good manners and deeds.

I tried hard to ‘escape’ this ordination, especially since only recently (in fact just 9 months before) I was ordained as the second rank of deacons. Despite my efforts of declining, both the priests and the people did recommend me and in the end I believe that you should be obedient to the clergy and laity as they represent Christ.

It was a difficult but lovely experience, especially as you have to kneel for half of the ordination while keeping an upright back!

I’ve said before and I will say it again….we are not worthy of God’s blessings and we will never be worthy. All the good we have is because of God’s grace and mercy.

We remember that we were created out of dust and we will return to dust. However every Christian is precious in God’s eyes as they are in the image of the creator.

I was not worthy to be ordained the first level of deacons, nor the second. I think I was about 16 years old when I was first ordained, and I remember that I was ordained with a young child about 7 years old who knew much more about the church than me. I could probably only sing one response back then, and it was the most commonly sung words in the Coptic church….lord have mercy (kirie eleison in Greek)!

Times have changed for me…due to the grace working inside of me, yet there is still a lot to learn and we all can so easily fall into the trap of thinking that we deserve the power/authority/respect/praise and honour when we never do.

I would also sincerely like to thank all those who congratulated my ordination, and those that were keen to have a photo with me! That meant a lot and always will.

I and you pray that we do not become people who honour God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him.

We pray to always remember how much bigger God is than us, while we love Him so dearly that His grace works in us to achieve great things.

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Comments»

1. Bishoy - December 17, 2012

Well deserved my brother in the deaconship!


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