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
May 9/22 Translation of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from Myra to Bari, in 1087
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
A quiet day was planned at home with an equally quiet evening. I had spent most of the day watching the kids and recouping from an especially busy schedule visiting family and friends. The continuing overcast skies and subarctic temperatures made even playing on the local playground unattractive. My wife was just about to depart for an evening on the town with old school mates when the doorbell rang. Continue reading
May 10, 2015
American Mother’s Day
Moscow is principally for us a place to gather as many friends and family as we can muster at any given time, and since the observed holiday for Victory Day is tomorrow (Monday), the Sunday gathering at our apartment is more than usually crowded. My American friend and his family come over with fried chicken wings and garlic bread, while my wife’s local cousins bring their children for a sleepover. It is a grand occasion of East meets West with overlapping conversations in Russian and English. But the capital part of the evening after all the eating and customary toasting is the after dinner tea. It is the most vital symbol of the seemingly endless conversation that ensues. Continue reading
One of the big temptations in traveling to another land is to expect many of the familiar things there from your home country. Or if those things do not live natively in the host culture, the temptation is to somehow import them. Such a tradition for us is the great American church custom of coffee hour. Yes, that’s right, coffee hour is not a given at churches around the world but is a distinctively American custom for Christians to gather after a Sunday service for at least coffee and donuts and sometimes a whole lot more.
One of the churches we consider our home away from home in Moscow has long held the tradition of refreshments and social mingling after the Sunday Liturgy, but they don’t call it coffee hour and they don’t claim that the custom is borrowed from America. Continue reading
Arrived yesterday to Moscow for our family’s seventh time in the land of the Rus. Mama Friar and our brood of four preceded me by two weeks. It is a great place to vacation as we have established patterns that we easily settle into here. A young family such as ours needs routine even when we are attempting to be adventurous and break out into something new.
Our daily schedule while we are here in Moscow runs more or less as follows. Wake up to morning prayers followed by tea and kasha. After breakfast, the middle of the day is usually a museum or show that is reachable by public transportation (bus, trolley, or subway). We return late afternoon to our apartment for tea and refreshments. Kids go with a designated adult to one of several local (and colorful) playgrounds while the others prepare dinner. In the evening, we gather for the most relaxed meal of the day and the most likely time to receive guests: suppertime. Continue reading
Today we celebrate simultaneously the birthday of my father-in-law and the anniversary of the day he first met his future wife and our baba so many years ago. I hear a toast this evening at dinner that I have never heard before: “Here’s to finding or discovering a path/road for our life.” (za zheezin na darogu in Russian) Continue reading