If any of us were asked to define it, we likely would not give a very biblical answer…or a very Christian answer. And by “Christian” I mean, defining it as Christ does in the words of the Gospel reading this Sunday.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Knowing God is eternal life. If eternal life were just living forever, as a matter of length of time, then those in hell, those in punishment, those outside of the grace of God, also have eternal life. That is forever, too, but obviously not what Christ means by “eternal life”. Eternal life is not about length of time.
Continue reading “What Is Eternal Life”
We prepare to celebrate All Saints of North America this Sunday. The hymnography is mostly fine, but needs two major updates. One, relatively easy to fix: it is quite limited in the names it mentions, probably a product of when the service was written. That is fairly easy to fix, and not necessitating a mention of every name, for that would also soon be out of date, but to focus on more prominent or categorical additions.
The second issue needing an update is that that the wording of the service in its current form has in mind only immigrant saints, and we need to see that this is a living faith which has produced and continues to produce saints among the native-born people of the Americas. Within that issue, it is also a problem that though “men and women” is mentioned in various places, it still sounds past-tense, speaking of the immigrants; though we do not have canonized women saints in America, yet, we must intentionally commemorate the women among the all-saints of our lands, for All Saints is all about the saints we do not know about. Just think Matushka Olga.
Continue reading “Updating Hymnography for the American Saints”
When looking at the gospel reading for the Sunday of Zacchaeus this past Sunday, and how it shows his repentance to be the “baptism”, the cleansing, that brings about the statement from Christ: salvation has come to this house and that Zacchaeus is revealed as a son of Abraham. Not only is this a look back at Theophany, but it is revelatory of passing into the next “stage” of our liturgical-spiritual journey…that is, into Great Lent.
This is much like the stages of the spiritual life that Father Zacharias, in Essex, talks about. He was taught by his spiritual father, St. Sophrony, who was taught by his spiritual father, St. Silouan. At the beginning of our journey toward God, we are given whatever grace is necessary to bring us into relationship with him and to set our path right, enough grace to make a start.
Continue reading “Zacchaeus Is Our Transition into Lenten Repentance”
We just had Zacchaeus Sunday, so-called because the gospel reading is about Christ’s interaction with Zacchaeus. The testimony of Zacchaeus is being used as a link between Theophany and Pascha. In giving us this reading, the Church is giving us a little hint, a hint to look toward Zacchaeus, so that we can know how to step out of Theophany and into Great Lent.
Since this Gospel reading is set at the end of this season, we should look briefly at what has happened in this season. What do we celebrate at Theophany? Christ was baptized. And baptism, at its root, is a cleansing. Christ came to be baptized, but being God, was in no need of cleansing, and indeed, it was he that sanctified the waters. And just as we see Christ enter into the waters of the Jordan, now we see Christ enter the house of Zacchaeus.
Continue reading “Zacchaeus Is Our Transition out of Theophany”
And how do we apply all these ideas in our parishes today? Do we build our own mission parishes here at home or send money to foreign “missions”?
I do not want to go too far, as if to suggest that the Protestant drive toward missions that I grew up with is completely misplaced, because, otherwise, “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” And truth be told, their zealousness toward missions shames us. However, I would say that using money to support people to go and live among another culture often gives us a false sense of self-accomplishment. We feel like we are “doing missions”, but we choose to ignore the negative effects of what is actually happening.
Your parish will choose how to use your money and how to engage in missions. However, there is one waning sign I would like to share, something that might be helpful in determining to whom or to what organization you should send your money.
Continue reading “Do We Need to Send Money for Missions?”