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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

     “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while coming together / eating with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times o...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

    “In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, / Fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness, as You did cry to all: / If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! / O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!” (Troparion of Mid-Pentecost)

     Today we celebrate “Mid-Pentecost” (Μεσοπεντηκοστή, Преполовение Пятидесятницы), which is the “midpoint” of the fifty days between Pascha and “Pentecost” (i.e., the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on the 50th Day after Pascha). I’m reminded that we’re in the middle of a 50-day journey right now, in case I lost focus on the Church Calendar soon after the 40-day journey of Lent ended. In the Troparion-hymn of this day, quoted above, the Church taps me on the shoulder and says: Hey!! Your soul is thirsting!! Time to come back...

Sunday, April 28, 2019

     “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (Jn 1: 1-5)

     Today Christ tramples death by death, inviting us to come out of our self-imposed “tombs” and “darkness,” with Him. Let me let Him take me by the hand, and pull me out of my rut, if I happen to be stuck there. Today I can hand myself over to Him, in a bit of faith and heartfelt prayer, even if my “darkness” seems too “dark” to be overcome by this Light coming from a 2,000-year-old Tomb just outside Jerusalem. Particularly if I’ve become di...

Monday, March 4, 2019

     “As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’” (Lk 19: 37-40)

     The Pharisees can’t stand the simple folk rejoicing and praising God, when Christ “draws near” to Jerusalem seated on a donkey, like the Messiah (Zech. 9: 9). But when they try to get Jesus to silence His disciples, He says, “if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” It was a...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

     “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς).” (Rom 6: 3-4)

     This past, “Thomas” Sunday (the first one after Pascha/Easter), is also called the Sunday of Renewal, or simply “New” Sunday, because it is the first Sunday of the year on which we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection “anew,” having celebrated it in a special, once-a-year manner on Pascha or Easter. We continue to celebrate the resurrection “anew” on every Sunday throughout the year in our weekly liturgical cycle, the focal point of which is always Sunday. That is to say, all...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

     “While he (the lame man, just healed by the prayer of Peter and John) clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man str...

Friday, April 13, 2018

     “It is the day of resurrection! Let us be radiant, O people! Pascha! The Lord's Pascha! For Christ our God has brought us from death to life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing the song of victory!” (Paschal Canon, Irmos-hymn of Ode 1) 

     Transitions can be hard. And yet I am invited, on “the day of the resurrection,” to join the Lord’s Great Transition, – the Lord’s “Pascha” or “Passover” from death to life, and from earth to heaven. This “day” is every day in the life of anyone who believes in the risen Lord; “This is the day which the Lord has made” (Ps 117/118: 24), also this Friday of Bright Week, on which I am, once again, invited to join “the Lord’s Pascha” and to transition from any death I may have slipped into, into Life in Christ.

     So let me re-...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

     “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” (Paschal Troparion-hymn)

     Christ is risen! – as most of you have probably heard by now. I for one have heard the news many times this week, and I’ve also been hearing and singing the above-quoted hymn many times, these past few days of Bright Week. 

     But I’d like to “hear” the news of our Lord’s rising from “the dead” once again this morning, that I may once again choose to “rise” in Him, and to receive wholeheartedly the “life” He is “bestowing,” yet not forcing, upon me. As I rise from bed this morning, I recognize that I have a choice, – either to be with “those in the tombs” and dead-ends of self-reliance and self-isolation outside of God’s gra...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptised?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptised with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19: 1-6)

Today, on the “Leavetaking of Pascha,” with just ten more days to go until the Descent of the Holy S...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, / Fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness (εὐσεβείας, devotion, piety), as You did cry to all: / If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! / O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!” (Troparion, Mid-feast of Pentecost)

Today is the Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost (τῆς Μεσοπεντηκοστῆς, Преполовения). So, Pascha is exactly three-and-a-half weeks behind us, and we have exactly three-and-a-half weeks to go until Pentecost, or the Descent of the Holy Spirit. At this mid-point of our long, 50-day journey from Pascha to Pentecost, it is easy to lose focus, and slip away from any kind of “devotion,” forgetting both the feast behind us (Pascha), and the one before us (Pentecost). Summer is coming, after all, so our thoughts might be more fo...

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