Being Separate in a Connected World

On this blog, I publish mostly original material, but every so often, I come across an excellent article that I feel needs a larger platform. Below is something that came to me courtesy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Department of Outreach and Evangelism.

Beloved in Christ, we have to see ourselves as being different than the world around us!  As Christians we are called to be “in the world, but not of the world.” (John 15:19).  The Scripture says “come out and be separate…..” (2 Cor. 6:17)

Yet this can be very difficult in a world that pressures us to conform to its ways and to be connected to it at all times. We live in this age of the 24hr news cycle, which most of the time is not really  “news,” but entertainment, shock factor, blog/twitter commentary of usually trivial information.  We live in the age of text, twitter, snap chat, Facebook, etc., etc. and we’re pressured to feel we have to be connected constantly or we’ll miss something.

And yes, we are missing something, Jesus, and relationship with Him.  We’re missing quietness, prayer, stillness, reflection. And instead, we’ve become impersonal, impatient, addicted, nervous if we don’t have our iPhone “on us” at all times.  Is this human advancement?  Is this progress of civilization? Continue reading

The Sweet-Bitter Taste of Fun

Clean Tuesday
First Week of Great Lent

I grew up near one of the best amusement parks in the country, or so the advertisements boldly proclaimed. As a child, I envied the houses we passed along the way as we started getting closer to the place of our yearly pilgrimage of fun. How did these folks get so lucky to live so close to a place where perpetual thrills were to be had almost 24/7? Surely a place with this much mindless entertainment must be like living in a virtual paradise. Yet my youthful impressions lasted only as long as the day, and my disappointment in the end came from the fleeting and exhausting nature of this exhilaration. For a steady diet of cotton candy and deep fat fried fun begins in sweetness but turns very quickly into bitterness. Continue reading

Always Winter

Always winter but never Christmas… the spell of the White Witch in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia has a prescient quality for us here in New England where the incessant battery of snow, snow, and more snow is testing the patience of even the most ardent lover of the white wonder. Here, for those of you in warmer climes, are some of the best things seen and heard from my camera in the past several weeks.

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Joy in Secret Places

December 25/January 7, 2014
Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the Flesh
A.K.A. Old School Christmas

Matthew 2:1-12

Several years ago for seminary, I composed the following sermon for a class on the exegesis of the Gospel of St. Matthew. I share it here with all in honor of the Old Style celebration of Christmas. Stay tuned also for an announcement of our Best of the Best in 2014. Happy Christmas to all and blessed and Happy New Year! Continue reading

Christmas Service Groupies

familyJPGIt happens to us every year as we approach the eve of December 25th. A certain Christmas euphoria overtakes the family, and we simply cannot resist gorging ourselves on the rich liturgical offerings of so many Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches. Since we celebrate Orthodox Nativity on the Old Calendar (January 7), this affords us the opportunity to visit other churches on one of the holiest Christian holidays of the year. And I cannot think of a single holiday on the Western liturgical cycle in which services are offered throughout the entire evening, even as late as 10:00pm! Continue reading

Having That One Back Again

Mendicant Monk:

831987Sounding at least one last note of repentance for this beloved season of Advent before we ramp up to the festivities of Christmas. My boss has done it again with this sermon from a few weeks ago. He did not directly intend this resonance, but I had a phrase from the confession at Anglican Morning Prayer drumming through my head the entire time:

CONFESSION

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

It seems like this phrase from sports is a wonderful and contemporary rephrasing of an old idea of “leaving undone those things we ought to have done.” May this nostalgia for righteousness inspire our upcoming celebrations of the Lord’s birth in our frail human flesh.

Originally posted on Trinity Newton Sermons:

Sermon for Sunday, December 7, 2014
Advent 2B
Isaiah 40:1-11

“I’d love to have that one back again.”  Serious sports fans who watch the post-game interviews will have heard the phrase.  Pitchers who let a pitch hang too long so that it was hit for a game-winning home run will say it:  “I wish I could have that one back again.”  Quarterbacks who under-throw the ball and have it intercepted on the final, losing drive of the game will say it:  “I’d love to have that one back again.”  Golfers who miss an easy putt that costs them the tournament will say it, too:  “I wish I could have that one back again.”

I bet all of us have had times in our life when we would love “to have that one back again.”  Maybe it was something we said or something we did.  And even though we said it…

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