Acquainted With Grief

November 15/28, 2015
Commencement of Advent & the Nativity Fast

nativityThat most wonderful time of the year is again upon us, but what truly makes it sparkle with wonder? As millions of refugees worldwide flee their homelands looking for a place to lay their heads, it is important for us to remember the humble and destitute circumstances chosen by the Lord of Glory for His first Advent into the world. For this reason and many others pertaining to our salvation, the Church has designed these several weeks leading up to our Lord’s Nativity in human flesh to be a time of fasting and increased prayer. But in the rush to hunt down gifts for every person on the planet and attend every holiday party offered, it is easy to forget our eternal destiny and the place where true life can be found. So where can a weary shopper go, besides church, to pray more, shop less, and truly wonder at the condescension of our God? Continue reading

The Charity of Charles Dickens

Just finished Dicken’s Great Expectations with our older girls as an evening read aloud, a project which has lasted two years for us. It is hard to have patience in our age of soundbites with an author who was paid by the word and often seemed to multiply characters needlessly. But any reader who has spent time with his tomes and become acquainted with his universe of characters knows the power they have of teaching charity and a host of other virtues to hearts grown cold with indifference and self-centeredness. Continue reading

The Mysterious Writing and the Selfish King

Belshazzar palace was close to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had a son named Belshazzar. When Belshazzar became King God was angry at Belshazzar for being so selfish that he forgot about God. God sent Daniel to help Belshazzar understand God’s message. By those rivers a wondrous thing was about to happen.

God sent a message to the king. A mysterious hand wrote a cryptic message on a wall. The king called for his super-wise men, but they could not understand the language that it was written in. Belshazzar started shaking head to toe in fear. The queen announced, “I know a man who is very wise and whom your father trusted.” He sent for Daniel who interpreted the writing, “God is angry at you for worshiping false gods.”

That very evening, a king named Darius of the Medes took over the kingdom of Babylon. He captured the city of Babylon while Belshazzar died horrifically.

Making Fun of Evil

October 31, 2015
Eve of All Saints (Western Calendar)

At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.   (I Kings 18:27-29)

There is a long and venerable tradition of mocking evil in the Church. The Prophet Elijah taunted the devotees of the false god Baal and revealed this demon’s utter powerlessness. The righteous maiden Justina fouled the plans of the arch-sorcerer Cyprian and made light of his demonic powers to seduce her into an unlawful and sinful union. And the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ, mocked death itself and eventually defeated death by deceiving the deceiver with his outward weakness and humility. Continue reading