An Incredible Sermon

An incredible sermon can be something which totally startles you with something new: e.g. in one of John Chrysostom’s 4th century homilies he says that the wheat and the tares are left side by side until the harvest BECAUSE mystically, until the end, wheat may become tares and tares may become wheat (i.e. the unrighteous may repent and the righteous may become corrupt.) Ezekiel says the same thing (paraphrasing) If a person lives all of their life in righteousness but in their last days turns to iniquity then all of their righteousness shall be counted for nothing. But if the worker of iniquity in their final says repents and turns to righteousness then all of their iniquity will be counted as nothing. We tend to associate PREACHING with nagging scolding. We even say “preaching to the choir” meaning we are trying to persuade people who are already convinced.

Actually, I first heard the abbot of a Greek monastery give a sermon which started out with some verse from Ecclesiastes 11:3 If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.” The abbot asked (rhetorically) “Why are we told about a tree? What possible spiritual significance can a fallen tree have?” Then in the sermon he proceeded to liken the estate of a fallen tree to the final estate of someone who has died. Whatever direction you were headed in, it stays frozen that way forever, whether towards righteousness or iniquity. The sermon wove the verse about the fallen tree into the verse from Ezekiel. This point about the final state is similar to parables which warn that we should labor while there is time because once the darkness comes then we can do no more.

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