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lightstock_41615_xsmall_fr-_barnabasIt was an incredibly moving experience. Dressed in their formal uniforms, the military guard walked to the casket holding the remains of the honored veteran and they began the mournful playing of taps as the color guard saluted. Then, with such attention,  the two sailors began the methodical folding of the flag that had draped the coffin. And then one sailor received the folded banner from the other. Moving with deliberate precision, the sailor took the flag to the widow on the front row, knelt, handed the flag to the widow with the words that always move me to tears: “On behalf of a grateful nation…”

There’s something powerful in the active and purposeful reception of a duty or an honor. Being awake to this dignity, this calling, is part of the maturing process of spiritual vitality. So, what is your ministry? What is your calling? Surely it can’t be just the accumulation of “stuff.” Or even the shallow acquisition of mere physical wealth. Your purpose in life has to be received FROM Someone and BY someone!

Look at our lesson today in Colossians 4:10-18:

BRETHREN, Aristarchos my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions-if he comes to you, receive him), and Jesus who is called Justos. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always remembering you earnestly in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Give my greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, and Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippos, “See that you fulfill the ministry which you have received in the Lord.” I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my fetters. Grace be with you. Amen.

St. Paul is finishing up his letter to the Colossian church and he takes the time to give some final instructions about some very real people. As an aside, these personal details are extremely important because these details remind us that our Faith is based in real life with real people and real situations. It’s all too easy in our modern age to reduce the Faith to a mere religious philosophy that is divorced from how I live my everyday life. That is a fatal mistake and blind spot that will always make your faith just a theory and never an actual reality. Our Orthodox faith is meant to be actually practiced, not just “talked” about.

But look at St. Paul’s words to Archippos. St. Paul specifically reminds Archippos that he is to “fulfill” his “diaconia” (his labor or service). Of course, this is where we get the word “deacon.” And deacons, in the Church (of which there are far too few!) are first and foremost, servants and helpers. Their ministry, their calling is to fulfill their service! Now this may mean that Archippos was, in fact, an ordained deacon that had begun to forget or neglect his calling. We really aren’t sure. But, this same Archippos is mentioned in Philemon by St. Paul as a fellow soldier of Christ. So, why does Paul make such a public spectacle of Archippos with this pointed admonition? Because to forget one’s calling, or, worse yet, never embrace or activate one’s calling, is not merely a personal loss. No. The neglect of your calling affects everyone around you. And it’s a domino effect as well. Your neglect helps those around you neglect their calling as well. St. Paul cannot, in good conscience, be the “apostle” to these Colossians, and to Archippos himself, if he doesn’t help us stay focused on our calling! It matters more than you or I may ever realize in this life.

Today, what is your calling? What are your gifts and talents? What is your ministry? Are you actively about discovering the answers to these questions? Are you working with your spiritual father to develop these gifts and callings? Your parish needs your gifts to be active. After all being Orthodox on Purpose is never just a spectator’s sport!

P.S. Have a great weekend. Fr. Barnabas is looking forward to hearing from you this weekend and next week. What are you thankful for? Email us at!

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  • Tina Cuthbertson
    Posted November 18, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I am so grateful for Journey to Fullness ministry. I look forward to listening everyday; would be nice to have it on weekends too. I will continue to support and pray for you. God bless you.

    • Post Author
      Fr. Barnabas Powell
      Posted November 22, 2016 at 8:51 am

      Dear Tina, thanks so much for your kind words. To God be the glory!

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