He Must Increase
The primary, and in our age, often unique mission of St. Nicholas Old Catholic Church is to point to Christ. As John the Baptist says in today’s gospel reading, “He must increase; I must decrease.” As a priest for over twenty years, and now a bishop for going on four years, I’ve understood my personal calling in the ministry to be similar to that of the “Baptizer,” and that is simply to preach the gospel in the wilderness of our modern age. In that understanding, John’s message of the need for repentance is just as important today as it was just over two-thousand years ago — The Kingdom of God is at Hand.
St. Nicholas Old Catholic Church has made a conscious decision to stand in contrast to the mainstream churches of our age who boldly proclaim that God is still speaking to his Church. By that, they insinuate that they have somehow been given permission to create a new morality which substitutes their prideful lusts and desires over how the Church has understood morality for two millennia.
in essence, modern churches are elevating themselves above divinely revealed scripture and the traditions that have been handed down from the early Church Fathers and Councils. In actuality they end up preaching a false gospel where pride of self is more important than submitting to God’s moral standards.
Yes, we do believe that God is still speaking to His Church. However, if you’re hearing something that contradicts historical teachings, you’re not listening to the Holy Spirit, but, rather, an evil spirit. I was discussing this topic with a deacon yesterday, and I emphasized that it is our role as clergy to properly catechize, or teach those in our spiritual care. And NO, it’s not enough to rely on “Scripture Alone.” Multiple thousands of Christian denominations, all relying on the Bible as their source, have come up with various and sundry teachings. Which one is correct? They cannot all be right!
it is often pride that gets in our way. In our pre-conceived notions, as well as selfish ambitions, we look to what seems right in our own mind as justification to ignore historic president. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard, in theological discussions, that the early church, the Apostles and Fathers, simply didn’t understand this issue or that. My sisters and brothers, that logic removes God’s Holy inspiration from the equation altogether, and elevates personal prerogative, and pride of self over both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.
Pray, my friends that your faith will be well-formed, that you’ll find a church, and pastors who are committed to the truth, not their prideful personal agendas. Pray also that our world will seek the Lord, while He still may be found, repent, and be baptized, for the remission of their sins. In essence, like the graphic, above suggests, our mission is to be the Light, leading folks to Eternal Life, which may only be found by following the Gospel TRUTH.
Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized, for John had not yet been imprisoned. Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew about ceremonial washings. So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.”