COME AND SEE, IN THE NATIVITY FAST

“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought h

WHEN GOD DOESN’T ANSWER

“One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, ‘Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.’ He answered them, ‘I also will ask you a question; now tell me, Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?’ And they discussed it with one another, saying, ‘If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.’ So they answered that they did not know whence it was. And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what au

THE NATIVITY FAST

“...The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glor

THE TIME OF YOUR VISITATION

“And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace (τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην)! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation (τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου).” (Lk 19: 41-44) The coming/advent of Christ was a time of “visitation“ (τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς/tes episkopes); of Jerusalem being “visited“ by God. Being “visited“ in this sense (i.e., in the “

A SABBATICAL WAY OF LIFE

“Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, ‘Woman, you are freed/untied (ἀπολέλυσαι) from your infirmity.’ And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.’ Then the Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sa

CALLED TO UNITY

“I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called (τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε), with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager (σπουδάζοντες) to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in the one hope of your calling, – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4: 1-6) The “calling to which you have been called”! What is that, exactly? It is “to maintain the unity of the Spirit (ἐνότητα τοῦ Πνεύματος) in the bond (συνδέσμῳ) of peace,“ as one Body, in

GOD’S KIND OF “BLACK” FRIDAY

“He who dwells in the help of the Most High shall abide in the shelter of the God of heaven. He shall say to the Lord, ‘You are my helper and my refuge. He is my God, and I hope in him.” (Ps 90: 1-2, Septuagint-translation) After a few days of traveling, far away from my own bed, habitual surroundings and routine, I appreciate the unchanging “refuge” of familiar Scripture-passages like this one. I can “dwell” and “abide” in a stable place, if I choose to lean on God, in a God-focused way of being, regardless of the various places and gatherings and persons/personalities I find myself confronted with. So let me make this “Black” Friday a good kind of “black,” – the kind that signifies the vei

PREPARING FOR THANKSGIVING

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.” (Ps 106/107: 1) Goodness and mercy. That’s what I’d like to give thanks for, this year, as I prepare for the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. God reveals His goodness and mercy to me not only through things and situations and states of my mind and heart, in His grace, but also through the kind words, actions, and attitudes of people I know. People impart to me God’s goodness and mercy. I’m reminded of that once again today, as I’m meeting with remarkable people, both old and new friends, during my trip to Boston. Thank You, God, for the goodness and mercy of Your people. Amen!

THE UNIFYING SELF-OFFERING OF THE THEOTOKOS

“The most pure Temple of the Savior; / the precious Chamber and Virgin; / the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, / is led today into the house of the Lord, / bringing with her the grace of the Spirit. / Therefore, the angels of God praise her: / ‘Truly this woman is the abode of heaven.’” (Kontakion-hymn, Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple) Today, those of us on the “New” Calendar celebrate the Most-Pure Virgin “being led,” at three years of age, into the Temple; and those of us on the Older Calendar – the feast of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Powers (i.e., the invisible creation of angels, archangels, seraphim, cherubim, etc.). Thankfully, the above-quoted h

FINANCIAL CONCERNS & GOD

“One of the multitude said to him, ‘Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or divider (κριτὴν ἢ μεριστὴν) over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; tak

GOD’S WORKS-IN-PROGRESS

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made both (τὰ ἀμφότερα) one, and has broken down the dividing wall, the hostility, in/by his flesh, abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizen

GOD LOVES US UNCONDITIONALLY

“If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Fo

THE LIGHT OF LIFE

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (Jn 8: 12) How many times have I heard these words, and they just passed over me? But this morning, while it’s still dark outside and a group of drunks is singing and laughing outside my windows in the center of Vienna, I just came across this passage and it’s almost overwhelming. It’s “killing me softly,” if that doesn’t sound too cheesy. (Sorry to those of you who will now have Roberta Flack’s voice in your heads). What does it mean, to “have the light of life”? It means walking and talking and reacting to things in God-reliance, rather than burd

FINDING THE LOST

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing… Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have fou

INCREASE AND ABOUND IN LOVE

“For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy which we feel for your sake before our God, praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you; and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all people, as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1 Thess 3: 9-13) I love how St. Paul is so full of “joy,” that he doesn’t even know “what thanksgiving” he can render to God, – for these Thessalonians, s

BE ENLIGHTENED

“I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall always be in my mouth. In the Lord shall my soul make its boast; let the meek hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my tribulations. Come to him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be ashamed. This poor one cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him from all his tribulations.” (Ps 33/34: 1-6) I’d like to begin this Monday in the Spirit of this psalm. It doesn’t rant and complain about what is “wrong” with the world or with us, as the words we read or hear in the news (and share on social media) often do. No, the psalm teac

SUNDAY, THE LORD’S DAY

“This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 117/118: 24, Prokeimenon on Pascha-Sunday) The day known as “Sunday” (dies solis) according to the Planetary Week of the ancient, pagan world, is also known as “the Lord’s day” (κυριακή, domenica, dimanche, duminică) in the Christian world. The Church did take advantage, eventually, of using the symbolism of the Sun-cult to its advantage, associating Christ with the Sun, as “The True Sun” and “The Sun of Righteousness.” But our observance of “Sunday” originates, in any event, in close connection with the Person of Jesus Christ, and particularly with the “new worship” He established in His “new covenant” (Mt 26:

LOVING OURSELVES

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you read?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered right; do this, and you will live.’ But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was goi

ON UNEXPECTED & SUDDEN DEATHS

“There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent (ἀλλ᾽ἐαν μὴ μετανοῆτε) you will all likewise (ὁμοίως) perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise (ὡσαύτως) perish.’” (Lk 13: 1-5) Here our Lord is not using the word “likewise” (ὁμοίως, ὡσαύτως) literally, in the sense

DIVISIONS IN OUR OWN “HOUSE“

“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Lk 12: 49-53) Our Lord knew that His light, His “fire,” would stir up the forces of darkness in new ways, not only or even primarily

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