IMAGINE THERE’S NO HEAVEN

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mk 13: 31) Which “heaven” will “pass away”? The sky we see above us. It’s not the “no heaven” that John Lennon called us to “imagine,” with “above us, only sky,” no. In fact this sky, this earth, along with the words of John Lennon, will pass away. “But according to his (the Lord’s) promise,” as St. Peter explains, “we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet 3: 13) All this will pass, to be fully made over and made “new” by our One Creator, by His life-creating Word. Let me also be made “new” this morning, once again, by the ever-life-creating words of our Lord, which will not pass away.

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5: 14-16) This passage is read on the feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs, Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, celebrated today (NC). They “let” the “light of the world,” Christ (Jn 8: 12), “so shine” through them, that it lit up the lives of all who encountered them. When I choose to “let” Christ light up my life, connecting with Him in my heart, I can also be of servi

BEING PATIENT WITH MY "SELF"

“But take heed to yourselves/watch yourselves (βλέπετε…ἑαυτούς); for they will deliver you up to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who has patience (ὑ

KEEPING PRAYER SIMPLE

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with/by himself (πρὸς ἑαυτὸν), ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be hu

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge (ἐν ἐπιγνώσει) of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge (διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως) of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (ἐπιθυμίᾳ), and become partakers (κοινωνοὶ) of the divine nature.” (2 Pet 1: 2-4) The “knowledge“ of God brings grace, peace and divine power into my life, St. Peter reminds me here. We have been given to “know“ Him in the coming to us, as one of us

THE “ROBES” & “SEATS” OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLE

“And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, ‘How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet.’ David himself calls him Lord; so how is he his son?’ And the great throng heard him gladly. And in his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’” (Mk 12: 35-40) Now, let me make no mistake

SLOWED DOWN BY THE FLU

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh for us, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.” (1 Pet 4: 1-3) There’s this hidden blessing of falling ill “in the flesh”; that I am slowed down against my will, and compelled at least to press “pause” on my usual sinful patterns or “passions.” I don’t, however, necessarily “arm myself with the same thought” as the one Christ

GOD OF THE LIVING

“And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Is not this why you err, not knowing (μὴ εἰδότες) either the scriptures or the power of God? For when

SHEPHERD AND GUARDIAN

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Pet 2: 21-25) St. Peter reminds me that I have a choice this Monday morning, between “straying like (a) sheep,” or “following in His steps.”

FAMILY ISN’T “EVERYTHING”

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10: 34-39) What kind of “sword” is our merciful Lord talking about here? The kind that slashed the ropes with which c

THEOPHANY

“When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan / The worship of the Trinity was revealed, / For the voice of the Father bore witness to You / And called You His beloved Son. / And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, / Confirmed the truthfulness of His word. / O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself / And have enlightened the world, glory to You!” (Byzantine Troparion-hymn of Theophany / Baptism of the Lord) The Lord “reveals” Himself; He appears unto us. That’s what He does, on this great feast of Theo-phany (θεο-φάνεια, Бого-явление, or «appearance/revelation of God»), celebrated today by those of us on the Older Calendar. He doesn’t hide Himself from us, but exposes Himself, immersing

BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT & FIRE

”In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to fl

SANCTIFYING THE WATERS

“Of old, the river Jordan / turned back before Elisha’s mantle at Elijah’s ascension. / The waters were parted in two / and the waterway became a dry path. / This is truly a symbol of baptism / by which we pass through this mortal life. / Christ has appeared in the Jordan to sanctify the waters!” (Troparion-hymn, Forefeast of Theophany) Today those of us on the Older Calendar begin the third day of the “Forefeast” (προεόρτια, предпразднство) of the great feast of Theophany, or the important moment in Salvation History, of the Baptism of the Lord in the river Jordan. So now the texts of our church-services are explaining to us, and bringing to life, some of the “hints“ that God “dropped“ thro

BEING ”FRUITFUL” FOR GOD

“On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, ’May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard it.” (Mk 11: 12-14) Is our Lord being “unreasonable” here, with regard to the fig tree? I mean, it’s not even “the season for figs”! And yet He curses this tree, for not having any figs, out-of-season! So yes, He’s being unreasonable, with regard to the tree. But the fig tree is a tree, after all, and is not informed or affected by what the Lord says. So He is say

FAITH in ACTION

“What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2: 14-17) I’m grateful to come across the above-quoted passage on this chilly Monday morning in Vienna, as I begin my work-week. I’m reminded that my faith in God, however Orthodox, does not “clothe” or nurture me merely by the words I profess on Sundays; nor does it simply ensure that I speak the “right” words, on the “right” kinds of

WE ARE NO NUISANCE TO GOD

“As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ’Lord, let me receive my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ’Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God;

SERVING GOD in FINANCIAL MATTERS

“He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous (ἄδικος) in a very little is unrighteous also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true (riches)? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk 16: 10-13) I am called to be “faithful” and God-focused in all areas of life, including the unrighteous “mammon” (a Semitic word meaning money or riches). So, wherever

WOMEN & LAYMEN, RECEIVING & LOSING FOR CHRIST

“Peter began to say to him, ‘Lo, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions (μετὰ διωγμῶν), and in the age to come eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first.’” (Mk 10: 28-31) Indeed, we receive “a hundredfold“ of whatever we have had to let go of, or have had to “leave,“ for the sake of Christ and for the gospel, already “now in this time.“ But we also receive “pe

HE WILL REMIND YOU

“These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor / Comforter (ὁ παράκλητος), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance (ὑπομνήσει ὑμᾶς, will remind you) all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…” (Jn 14: 25-27) The Holy Spirit “reminds” us of all that Christ has said to us, because we tend to forget. It is not only on a weekly basis, at the celebration of the Eucharist, that the Holy Spirit helps us to “do” in “remembrance” of Christ, (as He commanded, “

RECEIVING LIKE A CHILD

”And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And taking them in his arms (ἐναγκαλισάμενος αὐτὰ, hugging them) he blessed them, laying his hands upon them.” (Mk 10: 13-16) What does it mean, to “receive” a gift “like a child”? For one thing, it means not asking whether “I” am “worthy” of the gift being offered to me; whether I’ve been “naughty” or “nice.” Small children jump to open their Christma

© 2020 Coffee with Sister Vassa Inc.

  • Odnoklassniki Social Icon
  • YouTube Reflection
  • Facebook Reflection
  • Vkontakte App Icon
  • Twitter Reflection
  • Google+ Reflection