A Surprise from God

There was a time in my life when I was a clueless Protestant convert to the Holy Orthodox Church. Every weekend, as a bachelor, I headed to a monastery that bore the name of a despised Greek Orthodox Metropolitan that became a saint after his death and is loved the world over by the common people. This saint taught me so much in the brief time that I knew him that I labeled my automobile, the St. Nektarios Taxi Service. Every weekend I was bringing pilgrims to this monastery that bore his name. Tonight, I saw an online screening of a new movie about his life as part of the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. It was every bit of what I remember from my bachelorhood encounters with this saint who is the champion of the common man.

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Christianity Without the Cheese

Happy Easter to those on the Western calendar. Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

To those of us in the East, 4 more weeks til we party in the resurrection. But our friend Dallas Jenkins has given us a reason to celebrate early. FINALLY, media featuring the Son of God that is not overly sappy, obvious, moralistic, or preachy. Tonight in honor of Easter Sunday, Dallas gave us episode one of season Two of The Chosen. I recommend watching the whole first season and giving this brilliant man all the money you have saved up to donate to worthy evangelism! I cannot tell you how long I have waited for such understated, artistic loveliness. You will not be disappointed!

The Power of Confession in Community

Saturday, November 28, 2020
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

In this season of hope and expectation of deliverance, I saw a film about the power of confession within community. Words on Bathroom Walls tells the story of a young man named Adam diagnosed with schizophrenia during his senior year in high school and how he copes with this very difficult mental illness. He hears and sometimes sees characters and voices that severely distract and sometimes rip apart his soul. His first instinct is to try to pretend that he can hide it from friends and those beyond his immediate family circle. When that plan backfires, he is expelled from school for being too much of a danger to others. His mother and stepfather enroll him in a private Catholic school where he is given a second chance and encounters an extraordinary young lady named Maya whose love begins to chip away at his defensive and ultimately harmful facade.

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Another Downton Abbey

Fans of the now concluded Downton Abbey have been looking for sometime for the next creation of director Julian Fellowes. I am pleased to say that his latest creation Belgravia, now available on DVD or through a subscription to EPIX, more than fits the bill.

I just finished watching this six episode mini-drama about a self-made businessman named James Trenchard who makes his way into London society via marriage with his eligible daughter Sophia. All the usual pretensions of true and not-so-true aristocracy play out in this wonderful tale of love, betrayal, and everlasting integrity. So order your copy of the drama wherever you find good British period pieces. You won’t be sorry you did!

Two Great Classic Television Shows

Want to make my readership aware of the availability of two great old classic television shows now on Amazon Prime, streaming for free all episodes of all seasons. Some would disparage growing up in such a time as ours, but I for one greatly appreciate the ability to watch such shows in their entirety, in order, from start to finish without annoying commercials or the need to block out a particular time. I speak of Little House on the Prairie and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

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Best of the Best 2019

Drum roll please… The results are in for the 2019: Best of the Best in all the respective media categories. Please see below and also the archives for previous years. Happy viewing and reading everyone, and as always, we would love to know what you think in the comment section below.  Separate reviews are linked on the underlined titles. Enjoy!

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Give to the Poor, Inherit Life

December 2/15, 2019

Ephesians 5:8-19
Luke 18:18-27

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ. What does it mean to follow the Lord Jesus Christ? All the martyrs, apostles, and saints through the ages have provided a pattern for being disciples of Christ. The rich young ruler in today’s Gospel asks the age-old question for the would-be disciple, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Lord who knows the heart and sees its true intention perceives that the man is not genuine in his search. He first rebukes him for his flattery in calling him “good teacher” without recognizing his divinity. Then he issues the same call that he did to all disciples, “sell all you have, give to the poor, and come follow me.” The man who only wished to ensnare the teacher with his question became suddenly sad for he was very rich.

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Dramatic Reversals of Grace

Ven. Hilarion the Great4166599

Galatians 1:11-19
Luke 16:19-31

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ. Beloved in the Lord, don’t we all enjoy a good story like this one in which the forgotten and downtrodden beggar becomes the exalted hero? And where the former persecutor becomes the fearless advocate of the oppressed? They are both examples of dramatic reversal that makes us wonder about the world– its true nature and the paradox that seems to govern all despite outward appearances to the contrary. Continue reading

Unworthy, But Thankful

lessons-from-parables-parable-of-worker-fair-wage-fair-employerFor my yearly Back-to-School post, I offer this sermon on one of my favorite teacher flicks, Mr. Pip. Good strength to all in your September return to learning. God bless your studies in this new school year!

September 2/15, 2019
13th Sunday After Pentecost
M. Mamas
1 Corinthians 16:13-24
Matthew 21:33-42

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ. Glory forever. Happy New Year! Yesterday was a special day in the liturgical calendar for it marked the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, the new year of grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. It also happens to coincide with the beginning of the school year. No doubt by now all the students gathered here have had their first day of school in an academic year that will last until sometime next year in the late spring or early summer. So it is a good time for us to gather our strength, take stock of our supplies, and above all be thankful for the opportunities afforded us with a fresh start.

This morning’s Gospel of the vineyard parable features an interesting array of characters to study. The vineyard owner is Christ who provides every supply necessary for a successful operation before he travels to a far off country. He even performs some of the tasks the workers should have done themselves: he plants a vineyard, sets a hedge around it, digs a winepress in it and builds a tower to protect it, but the vine-dressers rather than thank him for it squander both their time and resources. Not only do they not do what they’re supposed to do, but they actively plot to take over control from the owner and murder his son! In short, they wish to benefit from the fruit of the vineyard without the work of cultivating it. Yet the owner comes back and the Gospel asks, “What do you think he will do to those workers?” Continue reading