I recently heard a news story about the supposed revolutionary nature of the American Pilgrim’s form of worship. In Plymouth Colony, exactly 400 years ago (reason to celebrate this as news), they sang their worship to God with acapella, metered Psalms and besides these Psalms, all their other hymns came straight from Scripture. While I grant that their metered and rhyming Psalter was a bit of a novelty (and a good one as rhyme improves memory), to say that their worship was revolutionary because it came straight from Scripture belies an ignorance of the more ancient path of the Church’s worship.Continue reading
Giving us before Thy passion an assurance of the general Resurrection, Thou didst raise Lazarus from the dead O Christ Our God. Therefore, we like the children carry tokens of victory and cry to Thee the conqueror of death, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. (Troparia of Lazarus Saturday)
As a youth, I was often in need of assurance. Movements of my soul toward God were quickly followed by moments of intense doubt: “Did the Creator of the universe really perform a work in me or was it simply something I ate?” Assurance of genuine salvation then came by frequently answering a call to the altar, kneeling in a bare church, and praying somehow that this time salvation would really sink in deep. While this was a great beginning, I sensed there was more to my relationship with Christ. And when I discovered the Church’s sacramental life, I also found the key to unlocking my much needed assurance. Continue reading
March 27, 2016
Easter Day, Western Calendar
2nd Sunday of Great Lent, Eastern Calendar
As I was formatting the bulletins for Holy Week and Easter last week at the Episcopal Church where I work, I made a most amazing discovery. I had stated earlier how an Englishman in the middle of the nineteenth century was the first to translate the Orthodox hymns of Easter into English, specifically the Canon of Pascha (Easter). Well, this past week, I discovered where exactly in the Anglican hymnal exists both the words and the melody used. In the 1982 hymnal in the Episcopal Church, it is #210 to the tune Ellacombe: Continue reading
Just posted yesterday a talk I gave on March 27 to the Institute for Christian Unity on Orthodox Worship in Five Senses. Enjoy!
Easter Sunday sermons really do get this good. This is what happens when deep, ancient insight converses with contemporary experience. Kalli Anastasi to all my Orthodox friends and Happy Easter to all my friends in the West!
Sermon for Easter, 2015
This morning’s sermon is going to take us to three places: present-day Cuba, interstate 90 between here and Rochester, New York, and Whitehall Chapel in 17th century London. Let’s begin with present-day Cuba.
This past December, as I was packing for a trip to Rochester to visit my mother, who was dying of cancer, the news broke that the United States had restored diplomatic relations with Cuba. My memories went back to better times, to the trip that Ashley and I made to Cuba about ten years ago. We were able to get in on a religious visa through a church connection. It was an amazing trip, and some of my favorite memories are of the music. OMG, the music was fabulous! It was like being on the set of “Buena Vista Social Club.” Rhythms as only Cubans can do rhythm. …
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Sunday, April 5, 2015
Orthodox Palm Sunday
I will never forget one of my first experiences of worship in the Orthodox Church. It was a Syrian/Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania, OH, and I thought I had come prepared for what I was about to experience. Had my Bible, my trusty notebook (that I still carry around to this day), and I was ready to drill the priest or anyone else who asked with a battery of biblical objections to what I presumed in advance would be idolatry. What I was not prepared for was an argument from a wordless two year old, toddling next to me in church. He was busy staring open-mouthed in wonder at a larger-than-life icon of St. Anthony the Great of the Desert. In a matter of seconds, I put my book away and decided that the two-year old was getting something that I was missing. For just as the babes and sucklings in today’s feast, his open mouth was already beginning to perfect the praise worthy of Almighty God. Continue reading
It 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
Love this post from my boss about some of my favorite Anglicans, especially John Mason Neale, whom I mentioned last year on his feast day. Forgotten heroes and forgotten spiritual practices/treasures go hand in hand.
“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
I’m going to begin today’s sermon with a car. My first car was a 1977 Chevette that I bought when I was in college for $100 from a music professor at Carleton College. The best I can say about that car is that the price was right, and that it made me forever grateful for cars that start and get me where I need to go. The stories I could tell about that car stalling in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota… To try to better care for that car and restart it when it stalled, I began purchasing tools and also a toolbox that…
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In the tomb with the body, in hell with the soul as God, in paradise with the thief and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit, wast Thou O Christ, filling all things with Thyself. Bearing life and more fruitful than paradise, brighter than any royal chamber: Your tomb, O Christ, is the fountain of our resurrection.
–Priest’s words at the Great Entrance during the Divine Liturgy
Since Pascha is the Feast of all Feasts, it is easy to miss all of the rich liturgical portions offered by Mother Church directly before the Easter extravaganza and directly afterwards. For me, especially dear is the service which acts as a kind of proto-Pascha, the Vesperal Liturgy usually chanted on the morning of Great & Holy Saturday, a service similar in content and purpose to what in the West is called the Easter Vigil. Continue reading
My boss has done it again with a rock solid sermon for Lent. Incidentally, he also shows us Orthodox what we should be doing with our own icons: exegesis of both text AND image. It’s absolutely stunning work from a man who is currently besieged with the difficulties of growing a lively suburban parish. Enjoy!
Sermon for Sunday, March 30, 2014
“The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” — I Samuel 16:7
For this morning’ sermon, I’m going to let you in on one of the secrets of the priesthood. No, it’s not some “hocus pocus” about the Eucharist; nor is it a secret handshake we all learned in seminary; and neither is it some Dan Brown-style secret that each of us has been sworn to guard. The secret is at once more closely guarded than that and yet at the same time an “open” secret. The secret is this: most clergy feel – at least some of the time – inadequate and unworthy of our calling. This sense of inadequacy and unworthiness may appear for some of us as we are chairing a meeting. For others it may…
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