The following is the text of a toast I gave in honor of my parents’ reception into the Holy Orthodox Church on Sunday, May 12, Third Sunday of Pascha in honor of the Holy Myrrhbearers and American Mother’s Day. My father was received by Baptism and my mother by Chrismation at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in East Syracuse, NY.
“Nobody knows the trouble I seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.”
These simple, yet profound lyrics from an old negro spiritual express the longing of many a Christian lost in the multitude of denominations and confessions of the Church in this country and in the world. This family alone has experienced not less than 15 in our collective lives. But when I first witnessed the Orthodox Church I could see a church where, “Every generation chanteth hymns of praise to Christ.” Everyone from the smallest infant to the oldest great grandmother, all gather together in one Church. Today this prophecy has been fulfilled in your eyes: Not in a church designed principally for the youth, not in a church designed principally for the elderly, but in the Church where family integrated worship has never gone out of style. Continue reading
Main Gate of Danilov Monastery, Moscow
I will never forget the first time I visited an Orthodox monastery to stay for a month-long missionary school hosted there. I was newly converted to the church and I was still getting used to regular church life. Life in a monastery was like learning to walk on the moon by comparison. I felt the awkwardness of a bum yanked from the street and set before a seven course French Meal. I did not know how to use the knife and fork let alone how to behave in this highly cultured environment. But the hunger and thirst after righteousness kept me from fleeing what was unfamiliar. Continue reading
New Movie on the Life of Rich Mullins
I first heard his music in a Christian bookstore back in the eighties when the only way to listen to new music was to sample it in the store or hear it in church. Christian Contemporary music (CCM) did not have the advantage of its secular counterpart: playtime on multiple radio stations, so songs and singers were far less known. Oh the hours I spent in my favorite Christian superstore looking for deep theological reflection and profound devotional commitment… mostly to no avail. More often what I heard was pop cultural leftovers, bands that were supposed to be the “Christian equivalent” of bands in the world, but were merely derivative and therefore inferior to what the world produced. I was lost in this sea of spin-off artistry, desperate to find an authentic voice, someone who did not have to imitate the world and sprinkle their lyrics with God-speak to sell records to gullible, culture-starved believers. And that’s when I heard Rich Mullins, who not only inspired me with his authentic witness for Christ, but showed me the way home into apostolic Christianity. Continue reading
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the priesthood of Fr. Antony Hughes at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Cambridge, the 20th anniversary of the Boston Byzantine Choir, and incidentally also the 20th year of my being an Orthodox Christian, I would like to present this memory of Fr. Antony from the very beginning of his ministry and the very beginning of my walk as an Orthodox Christian. We remembered so many of these tonight at a special banquet in his honor at St. Mary’s… Continue reading
I think I am on to a new personal favorite genre of spiritual literature: memoirs that tell the story of a person’s unlikely spiritual transformation in an environment very much unfamiliar and even inimical to the one in which he/she was raised. The market is flooded with conversion stories to Christ, but ones that tell the story in a grateful and truly humble way are few and far between. Eager new converts too often come across to their audience as, “I’ve got it, whatever ‘it’ is, and you need it, whoever ‘you’ are.” With hardly a note of personal connection, their plea for salvation falls flat as nothing more than a hawking of cheap furniture.
Two books that have come out in the last few years buck this trend, the first one by a man who remained a more informed non-believer and the second by a lesbian English professor whose transformation led her to become the wife of a Reformed Presbyterian pastor. Continue reading