Friday, April 18, 2014

The Most Holy 24 Hours of the Year

This week is unarguably the most sacred week of the year, one reason the Church names this week Great and Holy Week. Beginning with this past Sunday evening and the Matins of the Bridegroom each evening the Church has asked us to dig deeper into our hearts, ponder longer within our minds, and pray fervently for the strength that we can embrace the call to repentance, and follow Christ as He ascends His Glorious Throne.

But the mood changed last night with the service of the Twelve Gospels of the Passion of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. The Church was dark and filled with candles and incense as the Priest and Chanters recited pages and pages of prayers and Scriptures. The high point of last was the procession of the Lord hanging on the cross with the words,
Today, He who suspended the earth in the waters is suspended on a cross (3x). The King of the Angels wears a crown of thorns. He who wraps the sky in clouds is wrapped in a fake purple robe. He who freed Adam in the Jordan accepts to be slapped. The Bridegroom of the Church is fixed with nails to the cross. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We worship Your Passion, O Christ (3x). Show us also Your glorious Resurrection.

Following the sacred procession we were invited to come and humble ourselves at the foot of His Cross. This physical sign of humility must be met with a life of repentance and dedication to the Way established by Christ before ascending to heaven.

Today is a continuation of our sacred vigil at the Cross of Christ. Churches commemorate the time Christ spent on the Cross with a service called the Royal Hours. This afternoon, at the Ninth Hour, Churches will remove His dead body from the Cross and place it in His Tomb, which has been covered with flowers. And from that moment, the mood changes again as we immediately glance ahead at His Glorious Resurrection.

By the time we complete this 24 hour vigil, we will gather at the Tomb of Christ singing hymns of joyful-sorrow, called Lamentations, through which we will praise God’s saving work and expected Glorious Resurrecti

on.

If you have not yet engaged in the services of Holy Week, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE! It won’t get any more sacred than these 24 hours seeing Christ on the Cross. The next time we see Him, He will be raised from the Dead, and another NEW season will blossom in our lives.


Have a blessed Pascha!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Scriptures and Great Lent - Palm Sunday and Holy Week

A Bible study focused on the Themes and Scriptures readings assigned for Palm Sunday and Holy Week in the Orthodox Christian Church. Filmed LIVE Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Florence, SC.


What Makes Holy Week So Special?

Every year we are invited by the Church to slow our busy lives down and spend an entire week coming to Church. This week, which is called Great and Holy Week, not only commemorates the final days of Jesus on Earth, but they are specifically set aside by the Church for us to devote our entire life to Christ. As early as 150AD there is evidence that Holy and Great Week was already a week of special devotion for Christians as they prepared to celebrate the Feast of Feasts – Holy and Great Pascha.

That means the week we begin today and the sacred and pious traditions, we are invited to participate in, are more than 1800 years old. That means millions of pious and devout Christians have shared many of the same processions, prayers, blessings, anointing services, and celebrations as we will this week. That means Holy Week is “tested and proven” by countless holy men and women, bishops, priests, monks, nuns, and myriad children.


This year is YOUR opportunity to join the millions of holy men and women in the most holy week of the year. This year is YOUR opportunity to dedicate your life to Christ and growing even closer to Him. This year is YOUR opportunity to add your voice to the countless saints of the Church in prayer for the grace of God. This year is YOUR opportunity to experience a life united to God.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Glory Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

When James and John asked Christ, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory,” Jesus responded with a challenge, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10.37-38) What the disciples were hoping for glory was not quite what Jesus had in mind.

Many of us seek glory in life. We desire to be honored by our family, friends and coworkers. We desire to be recognized for the hard work and accomplishments we collect throughout our adult careers. We expect that our worldly success will gain us influence among our neighbors and fellow citizens of society. We even dare many times to think that God will ring the bells of heaven “just because” we are entering the Holy Gates. But that isn’t the type of glory Jesus had in mind.

Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.” (Mark 10.42-44)


The sort of glory Jesus had in mind was serving our fellow human beings, and worrying more about their needs than our own glory. The sort of glory Jesus had in mind was for us to become like Him, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10.45) The other kinds of glory…..let’s leave that sort of glory for those outside the Kingdom.

The Scriptures and Great Lent - Saint Mary of Egypt

A special study of the themes and Scriptures readings for the fifth Sunday of Great Lent.