In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Beloved in the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ, Today is Family Day. It is the day we recognize and remember the Holy Ancestors of God. What a wonderful expression— Ancestors of God. It may sound scandalous to some who believe only in a God outside of time who stands aloof and unconcerned with the affairs of humankind. But we Christians confess Emmanuel— the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, whose earthly ancestors form today a spiritual choir inviting us mere mortals to a heavenly feast of faith.
Scrooge then made bold to inquire what business brought the spirit to him. “Your welfare!” said the Ghost. Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately— “Your reclamation, then. Take heed!”
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
As the coronavirus continues to surge across the nation and many states are rolling back on their reopening plans, it becomes harder and harder to celebrate the Advent and Christmas season with the fullness it deserves. But the answer encapsulated above in the Spirit’s response to Scrooge reminds us that welfare, comfort and safety is not the chief goal of Advent or what the Orthodox Church calls the Nativity fast. Scrooge was violently ripped away from his commercial comfort zone because his business dealings were killing his soul. His night long journey deep into his own soul is what ultimately led to Scrooge’s reclamation, or in other words, his salvation.
One of my favorite obedience is as a Deacon in the Orthodox Church is bringing communion to the sick and disabled. It emphasizes what my seminary professor used to call, “the ecstatic nature of the Church”; ecstatic, for she is never satisfied with staying put in a box, but is ever moving outward just as we pray that the Holy Spirit is everywhere present, filling all things. No remote or isolated place on this planet is beyond the reach of our Lord Jesus Christ, and He frequently sends his messengers to those places to prove it. No locked doors, not even the strictest quarantine can prevent His healing touch to the health of soul and body which results from receiving his body and his blood.
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.
Despair is a temptation when life loses its purpose and the threat of an untimely death threatens to shorten that purposeless existence. As the worldwide coronavirus continues to rage with the possible hope for medical relief still months away, it is difficult to find cause to give thanks. Yet the lives of the saints show us how to find joy under all circumstances and the saint we remember this year on the feast of American Thanksgiving especially teaches how to give glory to God for all things.
Saint John Chrysostom the Golden-mouthed Archbishop of Constantinople (347-407) not only lived a life of thanksgiving, he is the principle author of the Divine Liturgy, the means by which the Church communes the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the medicine of immortality and the mystical union of humanity with God. The Liturgy is also called the Eucharist from the Greek verb eucharisto which literally means “to give thanks” or to say thank you. When the church celebrates the Liturgy, She is thanking God, returning the gift received to the Giver of all good things in an eternal circle of reciprocal thanks.
Nothing is as magical this time of year as the first serious snowfall. Our kids took full advantage of the 3 plus inches of snow that fell and lingered for at least a day. We parents are blessed that the usual difficulty of getting the tikes outside to breath fresh air is no longer a chore. They literally chomp at the bit to get on gloves, hats, scarves, boots and be rollicking in fluffy white creations of their own design. Here is just a sample of the fun!
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!
I had my first full week of teaching this past week. After over six months of pandemic restrictions of various degrees, it was invigorating to see several classrooms full of eager faces, albeit masked and socially distant faces. Our family continues the same hybrid model of classroom and at-home education which now, strangely enough, has become almost the norm under COVID-19. As classical Christian educators, we continue with an ancient method of learning that has been baptized and re-contextualized in the light of divine revelation. It is the relationship between these two terms, classical and Christian, which I propose as my topic for this year’s back to school post.
Just watched via Hoopla an off-Broadway production I have wanted to see for some time. Seems it is becoming the custom in this pandemic to place any number of good Broadway shows online where they can be streamed on demand (I confess a recent subscription to Disney plus just so that I could see the musical Hamilton).
This show that I saw on hoopla from a Broadway company I have long admired features a bright light of the 20th century who combined with a handful of others saved my spiritual life from bankruptcy. C.S. Lewis the Most Reluctant Convert in England is a crisp monologue performed by the director of an organization called the Fellowship of the Performing Arts. The show logs in at a crisp hour and 15 minutes and packs more deep philosophical yearning and profound spiritual insight than anything Broadway has cooked up for some time.