St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

This Sunday in the Holy Orthodox Church marks the Sunday of the forefathers. These are the righteous ancestors of Christ in the flesh, who were the holy ones from the Old Testament. These figures all had one thing in common: they were awaiting the coming of the Holy one of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is what this day remembers - that these holy men and women were awaiting the Savior of the world, the One who would redeem mankind and exalt us up to heaven. Some of these forefathers are well known: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Sarah, along with Joachim and Anna, and the Holy Prophet and Forerunner and Baptist of our Lord John.

One of the forefathers whose story is very relatable to us today, is that of our Father Abraham. As many of us might know, Abraham left his homeland to travel to a new land of Canaan, where God promised him that He would make him a great nation. This was a remarkable thing, not just because Abraham would be the father of a great nation, but the fact that Abraham had no children. As the story relates, his wife was also older and unable to bear children. This should have made Abraham lose trust in God: how can an old couple bear children, this was absolutely impossible! Even people in antiquity saw this as something that could not be done. How could God keep his promise when Abraham had no seed of his own?

This lack of faith was even exemplified in the person of Sarah. At one point, she overheard the Lord in the form of three angels speaking to Abraham. The Lord spoke about how Sarah would bear a child. What was her reaction? She laughed! She could not believe that this would be possible. I mean how can an old lady of over 90 years of age, have any more children? This is impossible to believe. And yet, God responded saying: "Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14). Truly all things are possible for God.

On the other hand, Abraham's faith did not waver. He truly trusted in God and knew that God would grant what he promised. In the Church, Abraham is praised for his great faith in God: "Abraham was one hundred years old when God told him that his wife, barren until then, would bear a son, and he believed. And even before Sarah had given birth to Isaac, God said to Abraham: "I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth" (Genesis 13:16)". This strong faith is what made him a great father and a great role model for us today. His faith brought him fruit, for he had a son born named Isaac.

And yet God commanded Abraham, as a test, to offer his only son as a sacrifice. Abraham was prepared to go through with this, had God not turned him from it at the last moment. Abraham was given this great gift from God, and yet Abraham trusted in God completely to deliver him from this misfortune. God tested Abraham, because actions speak louder than words. If we think about it, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. How could God perform this great miracle of giving Abraham a son in his old age, and then just simply take him away again? Abraham knew that God would not take away Isaac and that this was just a test because he believed in the word of God. Abraham was ready to do whatever God commanded him because he had that absolute trust in God and knew that God would deliver him from all misfortune, which is exactly what God did.

So beloved in the Lord, we too are called to follow Abraham and have the same unwavering faith that he had. We all probably know that God truly wants the best for us, but do we really believe that?  When misfortunes happen in our lives, we tend to criticize God and to complain to him. What we should really do is to stop and think: "is anything too hard for the Lord?" No, it is not, all things are possible for God. When misfortunes happen, we should put our absolute trust that God will deliver us from these troubles in time. Sometimes it will take days before our misfortunes are behind us, sometimes it will be years, sometimes it will last a lifetime. But these are all done in God's time. We should turn ourselves and put our absolute unwavering faith in God. We are called to do so because God truly wants the best for us. He will not betray us ever, he will always stand by us and guide us, just as He guided Abraham to be the father of many.

Let us pray for unwavering faith just as our father Abraham had!

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