Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

The Word of God is Life

25 January 1981

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

To-day we celebrate in Slavonic, and the custom is that I should therefore preach in Russian; but I should like to say a few words now in English to our newly ordained reader, so that he, together with his family who have come from France understand my greeting.

St John Climacus says that the word of God will be powerless and dormant if it is not spoken by one who speaks the word of God from the depth of his own soul. Giving us an image, he says that an arrow will lie useless, however straight and pointed it be, unless there is a bow and a string, an arm, and an eye, and a determinate intention, to fly the shaft to its goal in the mind of him who uses it.

The word of God is life, the word of God is Spirit; but we can, alas, quench the Spirit, make the holiest words into an empty sound, whether we celebrate, whether we read the Holy Scriptures or whether we proclaim them if these holy words have not reached us before they reach anyone else. Whether we pray, whether we read the Scriptures whether we preach the word of God, those who hear us speak should overhear the way in which we speak to God — not to them. And this is why, in the admonition which is read to the reader, it is said that he must read daily the Scriptures; and he must not only allow the word of God to reach him, but force the word of God into his mind, so that his mind be moulded by this word; force it into his heart, so that his heart is made clean and renewed by this word of truth, and this word of light.

And also — and this is not the least — every word he proclaims, every word a Christian says to God in his prayers, he must embody in his life; unless our prayers, unless the word of God which we read and we proclaim is made into life within us, gives a shake and a dynamis to other words and to every action, to every thought and every movement of our heart and our will, then when we will proclaim it, it will reach those who hear it as a distant echo, but not as an arrow, flying straight and hitting the target.

And so to-day, our brother Andrew has undertaken a task which is far beyond the actual reading of the Scriptures aloud to us; he has undertaken to read this Scriptures and live by them in such a way that he may identify with these words, and may speak them not with outward skill but with power of truth. May God's blessing be upon him, upon those who are of his blood, who have brought him up, and accompanied him to this first step of dedication. And may he rejoice and give life to us in his endeavour to identify himself with the word of God and proclaim it from within a life ever more dedicated to Him. Amen.

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