Glory to God for All Things

June19/July 2, 2017
St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Wonderworker

On this great feast day of America’s own saint, whose relics lie in the San Francisco Cathedral, I feel compelled again to bring the church into our home. I discover another divine service which is found online in both text and youtube, making it easy to pray along with the video. The Akathist Glory to God for All Things can be sung at any time for any reason, and I especially feel its message now as I plan departure from a city that has taken such good care of us these past several years. Wondrous is God in His Saints!

Bring Church into Your Home

Said farewell to the family today as they traveled once again to Russia while papa stays home to pack for our upcoming move. Wanted to do a divine service at home to make the place feel less lonely. There is a lovely Service of the Small Paraklesis to the Most Holy Lady Theotokos Mary I have been wanting to chant, but I do not know the music well enough, and it is difficult on the voice to do the whole service by myself. Imagine my great joy when I discovered a recorded example of the entire service on youtube using the exact same text and music. It is a great service to pray at any time and in any need. Enjoy!

Mocking God with Metaphor

thomasdoubting1500x1105-56a1463f5f9b58b7d0bdb773Christ is Risen! In this great season of the resurrection, I would like to post one of my all time favorite resurrection poems by John Updike entitled Seven Stanzas at Easter. In it, the poet delivers this one liner punch to those who would claim to be Christian, and yet not hold to the belief that Christ is raised from the dead, bones and all: Let us not mock God with metaphor (i.e., Either he rose in fact, or He did not). May He who rose from the dead, Christ our True God, give strength to those who still doubt and wonder at the mystery of our Faith. Truly He is risen!

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall. Continue reading

Alive Unto God

Great & Holy Saturday, 2017
Eve of Pascha, The Resurrection of Christ

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:11)

great-and-holy-saturday-burial11“If there were only one book left in the Bible, only one chapter, yea only one verse, it would have to come from Romans chapter 6.” I was used to hearing such hyperboles from our pastor and teacher growing up, so when he made this particular declaration, it did not make much of an impression on me at the time. I mean, if I had to lay my bets on the most seminal verse in Scripture, I might have chosen something about love like the ever-popular football verse, John 3:16. But this spiritual father of mine was closer to the truth than I realized. For the next time I heard his declaration ringing in my ears was the first time I heard that chapter situated in the very heart of the church year. Continue reading

Deep Repentance, Profound Forgiveness

Great & Holy Wednesday
Holy Week

Heard the Hymn of Cassiani last night in church and today on a wonderful youtube mix. What a profound expression of repentance and grace. May he who rose from the dead, Christ our True God, grant us the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness as we near the day of his most glorious resurrection from the dead:

My Debt of Love

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.      — Romans 13:8

February 26, 2017
Cheesefare & Forgiveness Sunday

seasonally_inspired_7-course_french_style_dinner_with_live_maine_lobster_and_prime_tenderloin_of_beef_main_entreesOn this Forgiveness Sunday, the beginning of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church, with our Western brothers and sisters beginning Lent this coming Wednesday, I need to beg forgiveness for a debt I will never be able to repay. It is a debt of love I owe especially to the Episcopal (Anglican) Church for midwifing me into the Orthodox Church over 25 years ago.

When I was a Christian in College without a church to call home, the local Episcopal church took me in. While the richness of the Orthodox Church stunned me into silence and kept me at an awkward distance, the local Anglican priest shared hymns and church customs that were more familiar. In the presence of an Orthodox Liturgy, I felt like a bum dragged off the street and set before a seven course French meal; Continue reading

Christmas Parties in Desolate Places

02closeup_scrooge_cratchit“I’m a Christian, so I don’t go to parties,” said a person to me recently. There was a time in my life I would have accepted such a judgment about parties without qualification. The theology behind the idea of canceling Christmas is partly to blame for this tepid approach to life. Indeed the Lord does give his peace to us not as the world gives  with the implication that all worldly parties without Him will always fall short of the mark. But where does this trepidation towards partying in general and towards specific Christian feasts/parties mean for the life in Christ? How do we answer Scrooge’s argument to his jubilant nephew in our musical adaptation of Dicken’s classic Carol:

“The 25th of December from what I remember is no special day, just a date.” Continue reading