Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Христос Воскресе! Truly, Truly, He is risen!
Who can contain this good news? The Lord of heaven, who lately was held fast in the grave is no longer there. He is risen! And with his arising, we too have eternal life.
Take a moment out of your day today and listen to this irrepressible good news with one of the brightest melodies of paschal joy, the Georgian (the country, not the state) version of the Resurrection theme song. And tell me after listening that you still don’t believe it. FOR CHRIST IS RISEN!!!
Dear Readers, I came across this lovely portrayal of an Orthodox Holy Week from the associate priest of our parish who grew up in an Orthodox Christian country. I always say that we converts (those who became Orthodox as adults) can learn so much from those who knew it from their very cradle, for to them the faith is as natural as breathing air. This kind of simple innocence shines through in father’s words below. And if you have never been to any Orthodox services, behold NOW is the time, while Divine Services last until this Sunday when we celebrate the Feasts of all Feasts, Great and Holy Pascha!
Having prepared through weeks of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we are now approaching the “feast of feasts and the holy day of holy days.” But before we can arrive at that sacred day of Pascha, we first must traverse the Church’s Great & Holy Week, where there will be more services than usual, sometimes both in the morning and in the evening. That means more opportunities to emerge from our daily jobs, homes, and chores and into the Church – not unlike the way in which the ancient monastics would return to their monasteries after spending the entirety of Great Lent in the wilderness.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is risen! Truly he is risen! The Pascal Canon declares “This is the chosen and holy day, the first of Sabbaths, King and Lord of days, the Feasts of feasts, Holy Day of holy days on this day we bless Christ forever more.”
And on this Sunday of the never-ending day of the resurrection we remember a man who seemed to possess never-ending suffering. The paralytic in today’s Gospel had been by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. Yet he does not waver in his desire and perseverance to be healed, even when as he confesses that he has no man to help him into the healing pool. The question put to him by the Lord is quite striking and may even sound offensive to some of us, “Do you want to be healed?”
Well, folks. It is here again. But this papa has had a lot less time than previous years to quietly contemplate the great mystery before us. But we Christians believe that all is part of God’s providence, so Glory to God for all things. I do have a good post written out, but I recognize with only 30 minutes left on the clock, I dare not wade too deeply into the waters of God’s extravagant love and our deep debt towards his unfathomable loving kindness. So instead, I will simply share a picture of our home shrine and wish you all…
Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Христос Воскресе! Truly, Truly, He is risen!
This is a picture of a book that my father found when he was digging through old books. Once I saw it, I began reading immediately because I love comics. The details in the book about the resurrection of Christ are both simple to copy and complicated enough to be interesting. One picture displays Jesus Christ shining 20 times brighter than the sun and breaking the gates of Hades by destroying the power of death. The author Michael Elgamal creates art by transforming ancient icons into fun kids’ pictures. Here are some of my drawings of his illustrations: Continue reading →
We did it! We survived Holy Week, Pascha, and Bright Week mostly from our at home services and through live-stream on TV. The joy of the Resurrection and the growing warmth of spring naturally turns us outward, desiring to share the good news with others. But the continued COVID-19 quarantine still places limits on that desire.
A place in western Massachusetts that was bought by one of our parish deacons and his wife and transformed into a farm, retreat center, and sometime summer camp is now a fully-fledged, full-service spiritual oasis, St. John the Baptist Orthodox Christian Monastery. Our family visits the two monastic fathers who dwell here for a day trip that allows us to fulfill our desire to evangelize while obeying the strict rule of the government not to gather in groups larger than ten (7 + 2= 9).
And who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?
— Pharaoh, King of Egypt to Moses the Great, Patriarch, Prophet & God-seer
The taunt of this particular Egyptian ruler rings down through the centuries and is rehearsed every Great and Holy Saturday during one of the 13 readings from the Old Testament. But it is more than a taunt or even an honest query: It is the prayer of every person in the grip of some power beyond their making or control.
Every year around this time I encourage those of you in my world wide readership that have never been to an Orthodox Church or visited an Orthodox worship service to GO. This year we have the especial privilege and blessing to not have much on our schedule as most are quarantined. I hereby encourage you then to live stream the Holy Week services in very own living room!
Starting today and continuing throughout next week until Pascha (Orthodox Easter) and beyond will be served throughout the world the most sublimely beautiful and divinely inspired worship you have ever seen, heard, felt, smelled or touched, except this year the feeling, smelling and touching will be left to only a few (those few who are left to serve what is being live streamed).
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ is risen!
Beloved in the Lord, I am grateful today for the privilege of expositing such a deliciously gregarious conversation between our risen Lord and a woman from Samaria named Photini. Our beloved Apostle and Evangelist John delights in recording these deep and sacred conversations and this one is his longest between the Lord and one other person, logging in at a whopping 20 verses.
Consider with me first the setting of this conversation at Jacob’s well in Sychar of Samaria. It is a very public, yet intimate gathering place, akin to the public, yet intimate encounter one has today riding on a bus or flying on a plane— random, yet providential encounters between total strangers that have the capacity to turn quite personal, and even eternal. Some would even call them divine appointments. Such is today’s providential encounter between the savior and a woman whose life up to then was shameful and without purpose. She was the daughter of a race of half-breeds, whose heretical faith, compromised ethnicity, and immoral lifestyle had ensured her membership in a disenfranchised class. Photini was a woman living a dead-end life among a discriminated minority. Continue reading →
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 →