Monday, October 30, 2006

I Met My God...

The usual question--"How was church today?"--from my mother this afternoon, followed by the usual murmured "Oh, fine...good..." and change of subject by either me or her...

Please don't misunderstand...I'd much rather have this than what my mother and I did to each other when I first became Orthodox. My mother has shown that she can be a very big person regarding something she so clearly and strongly opposes; her resisting the temptation to badmouth my Faith is noticed and appreciated, but...still...

It's difficult to avoid the elephant in the can I really justify saying anything but "I stood in the courts of the King of Glory today, Ma...I sang with the cherubim and glorified God at the empty Tomb...I chanted "Holy, Holy, Holy" with the angels and elders of the faith...I saw the Queen of Heaven sitted at the right hand of her Lord...I saw the Lamb and Word of God on the Holy Altar, and He spoke to me and gave Himself to me as food...the flesh and blood of He who loves me--who loves mankind--mingled with my own, for the forgiveness of my sins and the healing of my soul and body--I kissed the Tree of Life and ate of the Fruit thereof...I met my God in heaven today..."

In other know...oh, fine...good... (sigh)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"A 'Good Uneasiness'"

Dixie's got a great post here about mindsets and conversion and how mental gymnastics don't always apply when wanting to fit in while pining for the past... The part that most caught my interest was this:
"I started reading the Lutheran Confessions anachronistically. I tried to convince myself that Lutheranism was Orthodoxy...just the Western version of it. A few Lutheran pastors I know, including my own, would tell me "that's not how we were taught to understand the Confessions" but I couldn't pretend to be Orthodox if I couldn't be allowed to read the Confessions in a particular light."
I commented there, but thought it also worth mentioning's hard also, when coming from the Southern Baptist Church to Orthodoxy, to let go of the idea (which is even less ancient than Lutheranism) of "Once Saved Always Saved," wherein God is either so loving that He lets you KNOW you're saved, or He's a sourpuss who nitpicks at every little work you do as you scrape together your own salvation.

As Fr. Thomas Hopko says, God is a God who, when He meets our sin, says, "You're not gonna get me to bless it, but you're not gonna get rid of Me, either." The possibility of choosing sin and death over Life remains, but the love never wanes--nevertheless, every now and again it gets hard not to paint a "Once Saved Always Saved" veneer over the somber faces on those icons...

They're somber for a reason.

They're somber 'cause they care.


I was just notified today by a parent that her daughter--one of my students, Kaylyn--has been missing from her home for ten days now. She was suspended, and now has left home and her parents have no idea where she is.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Funny how things can speak right to you...

Tonight at Vespers, the reading from the prophecy of Jeremiah: (2:2-12, Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.)

2Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: Thus saith the Lord: I have remembered thee, pitying thy soul, pitying thy youth, and the love of thy espousals, when thou followedst me in the desert, in a land that is not sown.

3Israel is holy to the Lord, the first fruits of his increase: all they that devour him offend: evils shall come upon them, saith the Lord.

4Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all ye families of the house of Israel.

5Thus saith the Lord: What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

6And they have not said: Where is the Lord, that made us come up out of the land of Egypt? that led us through the desert, through a land uninhabited and unpassable, through a land of drought, and the image of death, through a land wherein no man walked, nor any man dwelt?

7And I brought you into the land of Carmel, to eat the fruit thereof, and the best things thereof: ad when ye entered in, you defiled my land, and made my inheritance an abomination.

8The priests did not say: Where is the Lord? and they that held the law knew me not, and the pastors transgressed against me: and the prophets prophesied in Baal, and followed idols.

9Therefore will I yet contend in judgement with you, saith the Lord, and I will plead with your children.

10Pass over to the isles of Cethim, and see: and send into Cedar, and consider diligently: and see if there hath been done any thing like this.

11If a nation hath changed their gods, and indeed they are not gods,: but my people have changed their glory into an idol.

12Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and ye gates thereof, be very desolate, saith the Lord.

Holy and Glorious Great Martyr Demetrius the Myrrh-gusher of Thessalonica
, pray to God for us...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Abraham's Seed

At the request of Stephen, the following is as brief an elaboration of my thoughts as I can muster re: the nature of "Israel"--who is in it today, who is not, and what this has to do with that hotly-disputed little parcel of land in the Middle East.

Firstly: I do not believe in--nor, imo, does the Orthodox Church teach--what is called "Replacement Theology" by many groups in Christianity that are enamored with all things Hebrew...that is, the idea that the Old Testament Israel has ceased to be, and has been replaced by the Church. The Church does not see herself as a Second Israel, for the Scriptures teach that the Original, First Israel never ceased to be. What has happened is that, simply speaking, those human beings, be they Jew or Gentile, who have rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah of God have been severed from the Israel of God (see Rom. 11 for an indepth description of this by St. Paul). In the same manner, then, all those who live by faith in Christ have been baptized into the Body of the Messiah, who is the Root of Jesse and the flowering of the tree of Israel.

St. Paul states it succinctly: "If ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." For me--and for the Church--the idea that a group of people that have, by and large, deliberately and vehemently separated themselves from Christ for almost 2,000 years can still be called heirs of promises made to the "children of Abraham" is a slap in the face of Jesus Christ himself. Will all of the Jews come to faith in Christ? Eventually, somehow, yes, to the glory of God they will accept their Messiah and be united to Him with the circumcision not made with hands (baptism), but until then--we must be clear--they are no longer in the green wood of the tree of Israel, but rather the dry (Luke 23:31), and therefore inheritors of none of the promises made to Israel in the Old (or New) Testament, for they (unlike the Christians) no longer comprise the Israel of God, which has been carried on into the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ by those who would accept said Christ.

"Reclaiming" the Gospel

In the Ancient Faith Radio archives, there is this supremely excellent "interview with Dr. Bradley Nassif on Orthodoxy and the Gospel"...specifically, it is on how the Orthodox need to reclaim the actual practice of living out the faithfulness to Christ and the Gospel on which our faith actually centers.

So many good things in it, I won't go into it here. Just know that this Orthoblogger gives his "Amen" to all of it...a prophetic message to the Church, imo...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Zorya Ukranian Dance Ensemble at TX St. Fair

Recovering still from a great three-day weekend with the in-laws, during which we went to the fair and saw the Zorya Ukranian Dance Ensemble--several of whose members attend St. Barbara's! They did four very impressive numbers, all of which were recorded amateurishly by Yours Truly and are available for viewing here, here, here and here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Orthodox and the Afterlife

Yeah...another audio download post for folks with a LOT of time on their hands to listen to stuff...

Go here and you can download all nine talks from the 2006 St. Vladimir's Seminary Summer Institute, where the theme was, obviously, death and the afterlife in the Orthodox tradition.
Just click like you're going to "buy" them, then download them to your hard drive as mp3s.