Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blog is moving

But have no should mean easier posting, which could mean more posting. COULD mean.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Christos Vozkrese!

From the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom:

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hell and took hell captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!

"O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?"

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Voistina Vozkrese!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Imagine with me if you will...

Christ died. Every. single. year. I am struck by that. Christ, one of the Holy Trinity. died.

From the Lamentations (Matins of Great and Holy Saturday)

Let awe and wonder shake the heavens
and let the earth's foundations quake
For He who dwells in the heavens is laid
within a dark and dismal tomb
And numbered among the dead...

Can you imagine this from the point of view of those long-dead? From the perspective of the demons?

The hymns we sang tonight talked about the chaos that likely ensued when Christ descended into hell and freed the captives. For like two seconds it looked like evil and death had triumphed, but then He-who-created-the-world showed up.

So for me, for those of us here on earth, Christ is dead and in the tomb. But there's so much more going on.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Holy Week humbling

Lent did to me what it always does to me...and I guess what is supposed to do...revealed those areas in my life that need some shoring up, some care and tending to. For me, this year, that's been a lot about my cynicism and my aggressive irritation with those around me: the least of these, usually, who stand in the way of my progress toward wherever it is I think I'm going, or think I need to go.

Then, yesterday, I saw this little clip on know the clip I'm talking about. And Miss Susan Boyle showed me what grace looks like. She took me to a place where I needed to go, but I confess I didn't expect it. Come on, neither did you. I was just like Simon Cowell, cringing at the thought of whatever was going to come out of her mouth and smugly looking forward to the trainwreck that was about to ensue.

And as I watched it unfold on my computer at work, I tried not to weep. I thought about her all evening, as I sat before the icons during Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. I thought about how grace-less I am, and how I do not treat people with anything remotely resembling the respect due them as those created in the image of God.

So, thank you, Susan Boyle. Thank you for being an instrument of God's grace in my life. Thank you for holding up the mirror of my own heart in front of my eyes so I could see those areas that needed polishing so I can better reflect that Divine Image. Thank you, Susan Boyle, for blessing this Holy Week for me in a very real way.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Forgive me...and may God forgive us

Forgiveness Sunday...the first Sunday of Great Lent...and an evening spent seeking the forgiveness of my brothers and sisters, many of whose names I do not even know. What a great way to start.

As Father David spoke today about the purpose of Great Lent, about how it moves along in The Way, I thought about how (sometimes in Western) Christians tends to think of Lent in terms of what is missing...What are you giving up? How big is the inconvenience going to be? I'm giving up chocolate for Lent. I'm going to try not to swear as much.

These can be good things. Denial of self always is.

But, as Father David said, Great Lent is about our own personal earnestness in joining our lives to Christ. Christianity, once called The Way, is about LIFE, not as he put it, a box of rules and ideas we hang onto to draw from as needed. It is, (a more apt description I've not heard in awhile), as a paper towel placed over a small puddle of water. The water will spread throughout every fiber of that paper towel, until the whole thing is soaked and can hold no more. My life, my heart, my workplace attitude, my demeanor with others, these things should be like that paper towel, soaked through with the love of God.

So if Lent is for me about what is missing (whole food groups), it should be about what is gained. Empty spaces filled with God. I have plenty of spaces in my heart that ought to be empty. Get me angry enough about something stupid and most of them will reveal themselves right quick. Great Lent should give me the time, the motivation and the focus to look on those spaces, filled with crap that must be surrendered to God and open to God. This is my prayer. This is my goal. Lord, have mercy.

For those who read who know me personally or professionally or whatever, please forgive me any offense I have committed against you (and I'm sure they are many) in word or deed, intentionally or in ignorance. May you, if you believe Christ is the Son of the Living God who died and rose for our sins, have a blessed Lenten season.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


So at the request of a dear friend, who points out my laziness with his enthusiasm, I am blogging. But it's the Theophany anyway, and I always seem to blog at Theophany (if you don't believe me, check it's true)

We (my family, now a gang of nine not counting dogs--if you count dogs, well, let's not count dogs) celebrated Christmas on New Year's, which is not a bad way to welcome in the next round of 12 months. And is our way, we can't get together around the 150-year-old dining room table without a theological debate (sorry, Grandma). I do think it was Bob that started it this year.

Tagging up on so many big issues--Calvinism, the Apocrypha, free will--my brain got stuck on two things: Salvation and Submission. I'll get to Salvation later (maybe next time I blog, next Theophany. Just kidding.)

For now: Submission.

It's not an easy word, not to hear, not to say in relationship to your responsibility and most certainly not to act on.

And anyone that knows me even the teensiest bit knows that it is not a trait I possess. I am stiff-necked, willful and will usually go too far if left unattended even though I know better. But in this, in leaving Protestantism for Orthodoxy, that's what it is for me. That's what it came down to. Submission.

People have said to me, about their own behavior, their own choices and their own will, that they don't submit to the Church, they can't. They submit to God and what He wants for them. They don't want to, or can't, allow anything in between to dictate their actions, maybe out of a misunderstanding that the Church is actually between like a roof, instead of between like a stem connecting a flower to a root. But whatever, I understand that hesitancy, that reluctance.

But God, whom I submit to (albeit awkwardly), told me to submit myself to His Church. So that means that I cannot submit myself to Him and not accept that which He has for me, anymore than a infantryman can say to his captain "yes, sir" and then completely ignore the directives of his sergeant whom the captain has placed over him.

My Chrismation vows, which I take seriously (because words matter, symbol matters--they connect us to reality), I confessed my belief in the teachings of that Church. I said "yes, sir." I chose to submit.

I hadn't realized how foreign that concept was to me, and to those who are outside the Orthodox Church, until I thought about it later. I believe these things I didn't used to believe in--a Sacramental view of Holy Communion, baptism as a saving action, the role of Tradition in making me more like Christ. And I know this for sure: I didn't believe them as much when I read that Creed at the back of the Church during my Chrismation as I do know. But I trusted that if I jumped into it, I'd learn to swim or at least not drown in it. Or going back to my original analogy, I trusted that my Captain had put someone in charge of me who could handle me and get me from point A to point B safely and victoriously. Thanks be to God, so much more of that belief has come. The more I surrender to the Truth of His Church, the more it protects me and guides me. The more I willingly take what it offers me, the closer I get to Him.

It's nice how that works out.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

On the Transfiguration

Forgive me for saying this, but I never really got the whole Transfiguration thing. Seriously.

Until tonight. (liturgically tomorrow)

And God bless Father David, because he made it even make more sense than the hymns were making it make on its own. I know, that's a TERRIBLE sentence, but bear with me.

Here's what I finally understood. Well, two things actually.

First, if it wasn't clear to the disciples, particularly those three, who Christ was, what with all the water-into-wine, voice-of-God-from-the-Heavens, water walking and whatnot, He TRANSFIGURES. He changed. The radiance of His divinity shot out of Him, through His clothes. And just in case any doubts remained, Moses and Elijah showed up and said PAY ATTENTION. This is the ONE. And Christ, in His great love for mankind, said keep this to yourselves, kids, until after I resurrect. You're going to have the world's biggest AHA moment, and I want you to remember this. Remember this when I'm on the Cross and you can't, for the life of you, figure out what is happening. Remember this. I AM GOD.

Second, He is showing us what we are to become, what we should be, what we were supposed to be. If we are in Him and He is in us, we too will be TRANSFIGURED, with the radiance of God's divine light shooting out of us. I am to be this. When I partook of Holy Communion, I took Him in. He entered into me. He will transform me. I will be LIKE HIM. He wants us to be that, to quote Fr. David, to shine brighter than the stars in the heavens, to be higher than the angels.

So, on this day, this day of great change, great revealing, I pray. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Who shone with great light on Mt. Tabor, change me. Make me into that which is a radiant reflection of who and what You created me to be. Through the prayers of Sts. Peter, James and John who stood with You that day, through the prayers of Moses and Elijah who pointed to You, have mercy upon me and save me.


Memory Eternal

Alexander Solzhenitsyn--Dec. 11, 1918 to Aug. 4, 2008

He saw the constructs of man for what they were. We shall miss him for we still need him.