Month: January 2016

The Trap of Little Sins

I have a little print-paper icon of St. Moses of Ethiopia that I use as a bookmark.  It is currently in use as I read My Life in Christ by St. John of Kronstadt as part of my bedroom prayer rule.  On the icon are these words from the African monastic,

Even in little sins, let us force ourselves and not become lazy for truly we have forgiveness of sins

From the Russian priest, I found these words on page 58,

Most men not only bear Satan’s burden willingly in their hearts, but they become so accustomed to it that they often do not feel it, and even imperceptibly increase it

moses and kronstadt

It is not hard for us to wake up and repent of our “big” sins.  We are quick to be offended, saddened, or feel some other emotion when an obvious act of immorality has been committed.  If our vision along our spiritual journey goes no further than what can readily be seen, then Satan has blinded us.  As long as we aren’t observant that we don’t fall for the “minor” temptations and make excuses for us committing them, the evil one is allowing us to rot from the inside.  He is often waiting for the rot to set in so deeply that when faced with a major temptation, we will fall quite easily and not realize how we could do such a thing.

Oh, it is a little thing for a man to “check out” a shapely woman every now and then and consider it harmless.  Yet, our Lord taught us better;

But, I say to you, if a man looks upon a woman to lust for her, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  (Matthew 5:28)

In many cases of child molestation and rape it is not unusual for law enforcement to find the perpetrator had a pornography habit.  Affairs and fornication begin with the eyes and the mind long before the sexual organs are involved.  And rather than confront a son’s (or daughter’s, I suppose) lengthy times in the restroom or alone online, even Christian parents resign themselves to the phrase, “boys will be boys.”  The perpetual laziness in not being watchful against and embracing lust is the cause of men and women failing at relationships as we don’t know how to relate to one another as beings who pursue purity of heart.  Even as we pursue our “soul mates,” lust stains our souls so that we wouldn’t know the “right one” unless an archangel actually pointed him (or her) out.  And even if we do find a good spouse, those little sins left unchecked and well fed are able to rot the best of marriages.

Murder can begin with unchecked anger, theft with envy, hate with pride; every “big” sin begins with a “little” sin, or a series of “little” sins.  Care must be taken that we search them out within ourselves in times of contemplation and prayer.  We who seek God cannot afford to accept the worldly excuses for them.  They must not be tolerated in ourselves.  But, we must repent of them no matter how minor they may seem.




Open House of Prayer

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On the first Sunday of December, 2013, I saddened and surprised many of you when I announced that I was leaving the Baptist pulpit and Protestant Christianity.  To make the shock even more unbelievable, I converted to Orthodox Christianity; a faith that very few whites were exposed to, far fewer we blacks.  The dust has long settled and most of you are at peace knowing that I am still a devout Christian.  Perhaps you have some questions about my beliefs and practices.  Perhaps you wanted to ask, but wasn’t sure how to catch up with me.  I am offering you a chance to converse, visit, and pray with me.

On Tuesdays, you are welcome to observe and pray with me as I observe my Vespers prayer rule at 6 pm.  It is a simple order of prayer based on the Gospels and Psalms.  After the prayer, you are welcome to ask whatever you wish and have a bowl of whatever I have in my crock pot (if it is chili, I promise not to make it too spicy).  At 7 pm I will offer prayers from the Canon for Racial Reconciliation and the Prayer for Africa’s Children in America by the black abolitionist Maria Stewart.  This is a great opportunity to talk about the issues that separate people in our society, what problems we have in our own town, and what can be done to improve our own back yard.

If you wish to take me up on this offer, please call text, or e-mail me.   I can also be contacted via Facebook.

Christ is in our midst.  He is and ever shall be.

John R. Gresham, Jr.

Lay Chanter, St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church, Hampton

President, VA Chapter of the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black

National Secretary, Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black

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