Offering Everything to God
Key Facts and Ideas
The juxtaposition of these two images is, of course, deliberate. The first is a woman offering God her hopes, her fears, her life, her longings; who can say what she is not offering?! This is done in the context of impending international conflict and, as we know now, an enormous eruption of violence in her own country of Iraq. She does not say: "How can I believe in God in the face of so much evil?" She prays. She gets on with the business of being a Christian. Her attitude is not one of Stoic resignation, therefore, but active trust.
Consider now the Panagia, the Theotokos, the Ever Virgin Mary. Is her attitude in prayer not the same? She also has had her hopes, her fears, her afflictions, yet she has responded to the message of an angel and she presents Christ to a world arguably just as battered, bloody and torn apart as our own. She also does not sit down with the rationalists, the moral philosophers, the political commentators. She prays. She offers everything to God. She consecrates.
If we have repented of our sins then in gratitude and great joy, we come before our Father in heaven and with Christ in the Holy Spirit we offer ALL of ourselves and our lives to God.
At the end of every litany of prayer in the Orthodox Church the community prays as these words are said ...
"Remembering our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed, and glorious Lady, Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God."
This is what Bishop John Yazigi says about this:-
"Every one of us desires to offer things to God. One gives money. Another gives incense, oil, or other things to the Church. The truest and greatest offering, however, is the offering of man himself. It is good and beautiful to offer from our belongings to God, but what is most beautiful is to offer all of oneself to God. It is to make one's heart a throne of the Lord, and make one's being His abode. In this way one is transfigured and transformed into a living altar to the Lord."
[from a sermon at the consecration of St. Michael's Audley, UK on 11th August 2002]
This is what we must do to be of service to God and his world ... offer up ourselves, each other and everything to God.
"Everything" means everything of course ... every human faculty, our possessions, our relationships, our thinking and feelings, our relationships ... the list would be endless. We offer these things to God NOT for to have them taken away but to show in gratitude to our Creator that ALL that we have and ALL that we are is a gift from Him and that one day we shall make the final offering in our dying so that an even greater gift may be given in the resurrection. May then we pray with Christ:- "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. Amen."
"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You." [1 Chronicles 29:14]
Am I keeping anything back from God? Why?
1. An Orthodox Understanding of Stewardship (extract from an article on the site of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of America republished here by Sts. Constantine and Helen web site.
2. David’s Praise to God for the Offerings to Build the Temple
10 Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David
“ Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.
riches and honour come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.
therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise Your glorious name.
But who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?
For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You.
15 For we are aliens and
pilgrims before You,
As were all our fathers;
Our days on earth are as a shadow,
And without hope.
16 “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. 17 I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You. 18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You. 19 And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision.”
20 Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless the LORD your God.” So all the assembly blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD and the king.
[1 Chronicles 29]
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