“One of the greatest dangers for Christian mission is that we become forgetful in the practice of the cross and create a comfortable type of Christian who wants the cross as an ornament, but who often prefers to crucify others than to be crucified himself.”
– Archbishop Anastasios
During Holy Week in the Orthodox Christian church, we hear all of the Gospel readings where Jesus derides the religious leaders of the day, for their strict adherence to their traditions, laws, and practices, while having cold and closed hearts and unable to have mercy on those they lead. Every year, hearing these, I can’t help but wonder, often, are we Christians the modern day Pharisees or are we still followers of the gentle Man from Nazareth? What would the Christ have to say to us if He came back today? I read Matthew 23 and substitute “Christians” every time Jesus says “Scribes & Pharisees”, and then I meditate on that…and I lament and ask for mercy and help because I see parallels everywhere and am convicted in my own heart that truly, often we are they, as “they” were the “us” of their day. I fear that, as Dostoyevsky wrote in “The Grand Inquisitor”, if our Lord returned today, we may not recognize Him, or worse, denounce Him because He’s not acting “Christian” and is interfering with the mission of our Church, and we no longer have need of Him or His miracles and mercy.
Continuing on from my last post, I’ll say again, that I’ve noticed a lack of genuine dialogue amongst people of differing beliefs.
When G.K. Chesterton was asked by the London Times to enter an essay contest to answer the question, “What is wrong with the world?” he responded simply,
“Dear Sirs; I am.”
I am. I am? On January 26th my wife and I celebrated 13 years of marriage, on April 26th I’ll have been on this Earth 37 years, and on July 26th I’ll have been the Director of St. John’s Camp Programs for 16 years. Much has happened in all of those years, and most of all, I’d say more than anything else, I remember the loves and losses that I’ve experienced in my short time here on Planet Earth. Love and loss. These are the things that often define us as human beings, or at the very least go into defining who it is that we are as persons and how we relate to others, and for each one of us fallen ones, these loves and losses are very personal and very different. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says,
“Until we have accepted, recognized, and loved what is broken in us and what is despicable in us, we will continue to despise others. I must accept myself as a broken person.” -Martin Luther King, Jr. as related by Jean Vanier
I confess that I am a broken person. I accept that brokenness. Life is a long and winding road, with twists and turns and irony and all nature of things we never expect to see or experience or pass through. Often it is kind and good and filled with wonder… Continue reading
Growing up, every year during Holy Week, despite our poverty, my dad would splurge to rent a VCR and the VHS version of “Jesus of Nazareth” by Franco Zeffereli, and we would watch it as a family beginning on Holy Thursday and usually finishing up on Holy Saturday. (I realize some of you reading this are too young to remember the days of VCR’s and VHS video tapes…much less the necessity of “renting” one…) To this day I still try to watch the movie at some point during Holy Week, both to keep the tradition alive, and also because it is still my favorite theatrical version of the events surrounding the life and times of Jesus Christ. I also like to watch pieces of it occasionally throughout the year, and while watching it recently, something Jesus said during his first encounter with Matthew struck me.
Shortly after Jesus’s first meeting with Peter, Continue reading
Welcome to my old friend and camp mentor, Randy Evans! Fr. Stephen Freeman has recently posted a few different things on his blog, that, while excellent (in this writer’s opinion) have sparked some debate with other folk, including other Orthodox clergy members. I personally was surprised by the amount of debate and controversy sparked by what I have always believed to be Orthodox theology and doctrine. I think it speaks to a much larger issue going on in the Orthodox Church, and the “West” and U.S. Christianity at large, but that I’ll save for a later post. For now, Randy has written what I consider to be a very poignant and timely essay and reflection on Fr. Stephen’s recent posts. So, without further ado…here’s Randy!
Reflections on Fr. Stephen Freeman’s latest blog entitled “The Unmoral Christian”
by: Randy Evans
We are not immoral, we are dead. We inherited from Adam – all of us, including the Blessed Theotokos—the wound of mortality, and now, though we exist on planet earth, are in actuality, the “walking dead.” Our wound just hasn’t physically caught up with us yet.
Corpses have no interest in “progressively improving their state of being.” Corpses never ask each other “Are you doing any better today?” or confess to each other “Man, I really blew it today” (as opposed to how well I did yesterday.) If a corpse has any grasp of his true state, Continue reading