Gary Hoag: Everything is a Gift for the Life of the World – Alexander Schmemann

“All that exists is God’s gift to man, and all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God. It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything He creates, and in biblical language, this means He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation.”

Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983) in For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000) 14.

Tonight Jenni and I will begin attending a seven-week video series with couples at our church called “For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles” inspired, at least in part, by this classic book. Schmemann’s thesis is that everything is a gift from God to man to be enjoyed and shared for the life of the world. The video series presents this idea with contemporary genius! Schmemann does it with celebration and caution: spelling out the implications of both living and not living in accordance with this reality.

Schmemann adds “as long as we live after the fashion of this world, as long, in other words, as we make our life an end in itself, no meaning and no goal can stand, for they are dissolved in death. It is only when we give up freely, totally, unconditionally, the self-sufficiency of our life, when we put all its meaning in Christ, that the ‘newness of life’ – which means a new possession of the world – is given to us. The world then truly becomes the sacrament of Christ’s presence, the growth of the Kingdom and of life eternal” (90)

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