“Freely you have received. Freely give.”

Matthew 10:8

A Sermon by Father James Dokos

In worldly everyday conversations; we hear the familiar phrase…Nothing is free in life.  Now the reality…freedom of any kind is a gift that is presented with a cost of humanity, dignity and the sharing with others.  We need not receive a penny for a favor; but await a reward of gratitude and joyful heart of another human being.  Simply stated and to borrow a phrase…Ask not what your Lord can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your Lord and His people!

In recent years, we have embarked upon the harvests of food, clothing, housing and medicine; especially for our brothers and sisters suffering from the effects of hurricanes and other natural disasters.  A need was presented and His people opened their hearts to offer love and comfort to those suffering.  God has given unto all of us. We therefore give in triumphant pleasure for indeed: it is more Blessed to Give then to Receive.

“Witnessing” the LOVE OF GOD is to live in Christ and live a life of the purest, unqualified love.  Love lies at the very heart of Orthodox Christian life.  This Divine Gift causes unity, fulfillment and everlasting joy.  When we witness in today’s society, we share in the Life of our Lord.  His is the Head and we are the body.  Our witness, as we carry His Cross and rise again, is described by Saint Paul as those who are in Christ are a “New Creation”.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  Let us rejoice!

We receive also as we witness the Good News and our true faith amongst all the world’s people.  We have the gift to feed others with our prayers, our support and human expressions of Christian outreach.  Simply put: to go into the world and love one and all.  Generations have passed whereby some faithful may have had the attitude of hearing these sweet religious words and just went on with their lives.  Without the gift of stewardship, meaning one’s faith and witness, the end of their lives are lonely and unforgiving.  On this very day as I pen these words; a faithful parishioner fell asleep in the Lord as he lay in his hospital bed.  Offering the prayers of the Church; along with his loving wife, he kissed my right hand, witnessed the love of his wife and shortly after entered into Paradise.  The kissing of the hand was not for my unworthy person; but it was a witness to the many years of his life as an Orthodox Christian.  He gave of his life as a dedicated physician, husband, father, grandfather, relative and friend.  He witnessed his faith and love for the Church.  The soul of this man was given his true reward in Heaven we pray.  It is our privilege to offer the gifts bestowed unto us and to share with God’s people without recognition or earthly reward.  Truly, Love bears fruit!

“Service” is our rendering to His Church.  Our whole being must praise and worship the Father who provides for us all.  Indeed, a great invitation.  As we offer service to the Church with a grateful heart; we realize our true mission as baptized Orthodox Christians.  To be amongst a community of people who choose to live not only in the world, but also for the world.  To offer outreach and service to proclaim the Good News of not only what God has done, but also what He is doing in our time.  We proclaim our faith, service and stewardship of life not only to ourselves, our families, our Church Communities; but also to society as we realize our Orthodox Mission Works.  We enhance the good works and service of our faith walk in establishing the Kingdom of God, the rule of righteousness and the love in and for this world.

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:45)  When we love people, we are drawn instinctively to help them, to give them service as best we can.  But if love is service, sin is the refusal to serve.  It is proud, vain, arrogant, self-centered.  It will not spend itself generously for the needs of others.  By offering our hearts, our time, our talents to the Church and His people; we come to share in the Life of Christ.  Indeed, a privilege of honor, joy and sustaining Blessings.  We Christians are called to share in the Life of Christ.  Service to His Church and His people is our discipleship to Christ.  It’s real and inspires the people of God to offer their very best of time, talent and treasures which are abundantly blessed.  Truly, Service bears fruit!

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my Name He may give you.”  John 15:16

As an Orthodox Christians; we bear the fruits of God’s Love.  “Freely you have received.  Freely give.”  Matthew 10:8

Fr James Dokos, Protopresbyter, serves the Church of the Annunciation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.