The Difference Between Safety and Salvation

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.

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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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The Real Santa & His Heavenly Siblings

December 6/19, St. Nicholas
Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the Wonderworker
Whose Relics Lie Principally in Bari, Italy
And Whose Legendary Brother Santa Claus Lives in the North Pole

I was asked to play Santa Claus today for our Parish School but not the legendary one that poses for pictures at shopping malls and lives at the North Pole. I was asked to play the real one that lived and reposed in the 4th century, worked and continues to work wonders, and is loved the world over as Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. Trying to live like a Saint is hard enough; imagine trying to play one live. The task was daunting but there is a way to study for the part.

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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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Fish for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28, 2019
American Thanksgiving
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

By an uncommon occurrence, the beginning of our Orthodox Advent Fast this year coincides with the 4th Thursday of November, otherwise known in America as Thanksgiving. I have blogged before about my annoyance at reducing this great holiday to its chief dish. This year we received an opportunity to practice giving thanks without the turkey, and you know, I think we all felt quite a bit lighter.

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In Defense of Christmas Trees

31657782822_84d1ed5f32_oIn this time of the year, as the days wane more and more and darkness swallows up the light of the sun, we Christians in the northern hemisphere dream of the time of turning. The turning, or “yule” as it was called by our Saxon/Germanic ancestors, marked the time when the sun would end its long descent into the South and begin to climb north again. The Pagan Romans celebrated this as the Feast of the Invincible Sun, Sol Invictus, on or close to December 25th. The Church baptized this great celestial event by celebrating in its place an event of cosmic proportion: viz. The Advent of the Son of Righteousness whose coming in the flesh heralds the salvation of the whole universe. And this yuletide turning brings with it two great and ancient symbols of life and hope: trees that are evergreen and lights upon them that overcome the night. Continue reading

East Meets West

32267134888_4423af09d2_kFirst Sunday of Advent in West
Montreal, Quebec

I used to say that Boston was the most European city in North America. That was until I visited Montreal, Quebec, our neighbors to the north in Canada. Now I claim Boston’s most European status only for America. Ah, Montreal. What an elegant, cultured, and beautiful city. It was the perfect place to debut music from the Boston Byzantine Choir’s sixth CD, Twelve Days, set to come out before the 25th of this month (watch this blog for the official announcement). Our concert as advertised previously was entitled East Meets West and combined the music of our choir with the more western pieces played and sung by the choir of our host, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral. Continue reading

Dickens Meets Shakespeare

Tuesday, November 15/28, 2017
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

SMSG Publicity Shots - 15

Bob Cratchit & Scrooge, © Francois James 2017.

Have you ever thought of seeing a mash-up of Dickens and Shakespeare? If you love Dickens and Shakespeare, then Scrooge Meets Shakespeare’s Ghosts would be the show for you. If you have read the story A Christmas Carol or seen one of the movie adaptations, you are probably familiar with the plot.

In Scrooge Meet Shakespeare’s Ghosts  the Ghost’s are all different from the ones in the original tale. The Ghost of Christmas Past becomes the three witches from Macbeth. The Ghost of Christmas Present is played by Hamlet’s Father’s Ghost. The Ghost of Christmas Future is ghost of Caesar in Macbeth. The rest of the characters remain the same so you can see the rest of the show with the all-time favorite story by Charles Dickens. This rendition of Scrooge also features old carol tunes sung with original lyrics written for Dicken’s and Shakespeare’s timeless characters.

There are two shows in December and the price for tickets is not too much. If you would like to learn more and buy tickets please visit our website.

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Theatre You Can Believe In

scroogeMonday, November 15/28, 2016
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

It has been a New Year’s resolution of my oldest daughter since she saw her first show three years ago: To act and sing in a production of New Life Fine Arts out of Concord, MA. What she saw in Ebezener Scrooge: A Christmas Carol sparked her imagination while deepening her understanding of this literary character’s repentance. Now that three of us have been blessed to be chosen as cast members in this year’s production, it has allowed us an even more intimate acquaintance with NLFA’s uniquely spiritual approach to musical theatre. Continue reading

A Sobering Christmas Ghost Story: REPOST

It has been three years since this last time that Scrooge: A Christmas Carol was staged and this review was published. It is happening again, and the Friar Family is in it. Please don’t miss the action. Click on the banner below to buy tickets and come see us.

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leech-marleys-ghost-5
December 15, 2013
Concord, MA

Every year faithful Christians struggle with the rush and distraction of holiday preparations and long to take a moment to slow down and reflect on the real meaning of the season. It is an especially difficult struggle for Orthodox Christians as we are prescribed by Mother Church to fast in our preparation to meet the newborn King in his Nativity. The Lenten Fast by comparison is somewhat easier in the sense that the season is already more austere in the wider culture (everyone fasting in the springtime, if for no other religious reason, so that they can fit into summertime bathing suits). The weeks leading up to Christmas in America are anything but austere. Between Christmas parties at work, holiday concerts galore, and the extra latte at Starbucks to keep up our shopping stamina, few things in the broader culture give us pause to stop and reflect on our eternal destiny with one amazing exception, Charles Dicken’s classic Christmas ghost story, A Christmas Carol. Continue reading