May 2018

The Promise of Truth

On the Feast of Pentecost, the Church recalls the promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit to guide and protect the Church in all truth. If we believe in Christ and His Holy Spirit, life will flow from our hearts like rivers of living water. Two thousand years ago some chose to deny Christ and trusted their own truth, but Christ is the Truth and the Holy Spirit has guided the Church to maintain this truth. It is a truth we can trust.

 

The Struggle is Brief

During this period between Ascension and Pentecost, when the Church is “waiting” for the coming of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded that the Holy Apostles were anxious about the wait. We must keep in mind they thought the coming of the Messiah would mean the end to their suffering. They thought (this explains Judas’ fervor for rushing the process) that the oppression from the Romans would end now that Christ had arrived. They were wrong, and they were anxious.

Increased Expectations

There is a very good book that I encourage anyone who is concerned with church attendance to read, and to read it with an open mind to your own faults. It doesn’t take a scientist to discover our churches have fewer people today (in MOST cases) than fifty years ago, and for those who are attending church on a regular basis, the average age is at or above retirement. Statistics bear this out. The Church celebrates more funerals than baptisms and weddings, and many clergy report rarely if ever seeing parishioners in church after their wedding or baptism. There is a problem.

The Opportunity to Know God

When we contemplate such horrific instances such as the most recent school shooting by a Greek Orthodox young man, we wonder how such things can happen. Some even turn to blaming the Church for not doing enough to help people in their struggles. The truth is, painfully enough, that people can choose to use their free will to love God or to hate Him. The difference comes down to knowing about God vs actually knowing God. The only cure for our cultural pain is for us take the opportunity to know God, which is only possible in the chalice through Holy Communion.

 

All About Christ

During a conversation recently, I was asked to explain how we determine the truth among all the different teachings in the world. How do we know the Church is teaching the truth? I believe this question haunts many today in the Church who are seeking to know the truth. With the availability of the internet and a different church on ever street corner in America, it can be quite confusing to determine the truth about God.

The Real Normal

Today is the Leavetaking (that’s a fancy word for end) of Pascha. That means today is the final day we sing and say Christ is Risen for another year. Our Churches will undecorated today in anticipation of the Feast of Ascension which begins with Great Vespers this evening. The Resurrection Banner is put away, the Epitaphios Icon is returned to it place of storage, and the last few remaining flowers are cleaned out. Some may even say the Church is “back to normal” because it will look like it does the rest of the year again.

Some Prefer Blindness

We began this week’s theme of blindness with the healing of the man born blind. (see John 9.1-38) No matter how many times the man had given his witness to how Christ healed him, many refused to believe, even calling Christ evil because He healed on the Sabbath. The man’s parents and many in the crowd preferred to remain blind to God’s blessings rather than risk the secular comfort of their Roman society.

The Church is a Mother we can Trust

When we look into our mother’s eyes for the first time, we see her love and learn to trust that she is will protect and guide us through life. In the story of the man born blind found in the Gospel of John 9.1-38, God’s healing is revealed in our ability to see and believe in His Truth. Many in the Gospel refused to believe, just as many today work tirelessly to deceive us into not trusting our own eyes, but the Church is a mother we can trust to teach us the truth.

 

Seeing is Believing

We’ve all heard the saying before, “seeing is believing”. Saint Thomas had to see Jesus raised from the dead in order to believe. The Myrrhbearing women saw Jesus and believed. The Apostles saw him and believed. Jesus appeared to hundreds after His resurrection, but still some never believed their own eyes. For many who are spiritually blind, seeing is not believing.