Spiritual Teamwork

Spiritual Teamwork

St Moses The Black and My Faith Journey

October 22, 2020

Welcome back! This episode is a little different because I am sharing a little of my faith journey and tie it in with the story of St Moses the Black, whose name I took when I was Chrismated into the Orthodox church. I first shared this at St John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church in Jacksonville, Florida. I have changed it up a bit because there are things I wanted to share that I wasn’t able to the first time. 

So here’s some background... When individuals convert to orthodoxy they take on the name of a saint. This is usually someone they admire or with my children they just take the name of the Saint I gave them when they were born. When our family converted to Orthodoxy, I chose St Moses the Black because he was someone who I could identify with, but he was also someone I could look to in my walk of faith.

Lifestyle of a Saint

St Moses started out his life as a slave but was banished by his master because he, according to some accounts, murdered a man. Whether or not he did St Moses was an all around bad guy so his master didn’t want him around.  Soon after being banished, he became the leader of his own band of marauders.  What else could he do?

St Moses lived a life of excess whether eating, drinking or stealing. It is said that no man could stand up to him because of his strength. Once he was interrupted as he was trying to steal from a farm so he waited until night, swam the river to kill the farmer who had hid from him again so he stole two of his sheep and swam back across the river to kill and roast them for dinner.  

The church I grew up in only baptized people when they accepted Christ into their lives, and this is known as Believers Baptism. They baptized me at 13 years old.  I don’t remember what was said or what prompted me to go forward. I knew at that age I was filled with a blackness that needed to be cleansed. That’s where my connection to Abba Moses starts. Because when Abba Moses was ordained to the priesthood, someone commented that “now Abba Moses has become as white as snow.”  And Abba Moses retorted, “all but in his heart.”  

I understood at 13 years old exactly how he felt. 

Even as a child I knew God couldn’t forgive me because of the blackness in my heart. All I remember hearing when I went to church was that God was angry with me for my sin.  That I could do no right.  I don’t even know that was what was said, I just know that is what I heard.  Jesus was an insurance card to keep me out of hell, not someone I could have a relationship with or someone I could live like. I was a Christian in name only and believe it or not I was arrested within a year for breaking and entering. Church wasn't where I could fit in, but the guys I was arrested with they knew me. We were close. Except for when they would steal my stuff, but that’s the price you pay to have friends.

I left the church at age 16 because those same friends didn’t go to church, so why would I.  I walked out of church one Sunday and my best friend asked me why I went there because I cursed and smoked and did drugs, and he was right. Church was for people who were good, not people like me. Church was guilt driven and shame based, and I didn’t want to feel guilty or ashamed. My friends didn’t judge me, they encouraged me. 

I stayed away from church for the next 10 years. I became an agnostic, which means I assumed there could be a God, I just didn’t want him in my life. But, in my heart, I knew I needed God, but I wasn’t willing to accept him. One story says that St Moses would talk to the God he didn’t know and ask him to show himself to him. 

God has a funny way of getting through to people. 

After 10 years I had a conversion experience ironically...