On the Brink of Salvation

33866143862_a610ba3812_kFebruary 5/18, 2018
Sunday of Forgiveness
Beginning of Great Lent

Romans 13:11-14:4
Matthew 6:14-21

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Beloved in the Lord, This sermon was not an easy one for me to write this week. This always happens to me as we approach the Doors of Repentance, Holy and Great Lent. I am filled with so many lofty ideas about what it would take to fix the world, but that isn’t the point, is it? Lent is an invitation to fix what’s inside of me, and I don’t know about you, but I would far rather be doing something else. But this morning’s Gospel insists that our hearts can be found wherever we find the things we most desire or treasure. And when those desires are fixed on worldly things and not on eternity, our hearts will be restless until they find their rest in God. Continue reading

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

God Is With Us

kneelingMarch 13, 2015
Sunday of Forgiveness
Beginning of Great Lent

Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy house, the place where Thy glory dwelleth. (Psalm 26:8)

Fr. Michael Pomazansky of blessed memory has a wonderful phrase to describe the rich banquet of divine services offered by the Church for the salvation of our souls: He calls this banquet liturgical maximalism. And now as the Orthodox Church begins her 40 days of the Great Fast toward Holy Week and the Bright & Holy Pascha of Our Lord’s Resurrection, the sheer number of services multiplies exponentially. In just the two Orthodox parishes local to us, there is a service offered almost every day in this first week of Lent. What should we make of all this church-going in a month usually dedicated to madness and green beer? Doesn’t all this abstaining and prostrating lead to a repression of life and joy? Continue reading

Making Forgiveness a Ritual

Forgiveness Sunday- The Beginning of Great Lent

Russian Forgiveness“O, sweety, there is nothing to forgive.” How many times has our attempt to make amends with another we have offended end in this kind of dismissive, shrugging off of responsibility which is supposed to help the offended party feel better? Yet, when any of us takes a deeper look at ourselves, what the twelve steppers call making a “searching and fearless moral inventory”, we find that not only are we filled with sinful thoughts, inclinations, motives and actions, but ignoring and sweeping them under the rug of forgetfulness will only make matters worse, not better. Those not practiced in the Christian art and divine gift of forgiveness may be tempted to dispense with it as a necessary step to restoring peace in human relationships, but this morning’s Gospel lesson makes it clear that it is a non-negotiable. Continue reading