Monday, January 25, 2010

Fast of Nineveh 2010, January 25-27

This three-day fast, observed in both East and West Syrian traditions, commemorates the reluctant mission of Jonah to the city of Nineveh. In the story, Jonah spends three days and three nights in the belly of the "fish". Jesus refers to his own time in the tomb as "the sign of Jonah". Once Jonah gets it together and actually preaches to the Ninevites, they fast for three days and three nights in repentance, much to Jonah's chagrin. While the book of Jonah is inspired fiction, it is indeed INSPIRED, telling the story of an all-too-human prophet who is bound by the prejudices and cultural limitations of his time and place, but who is, nonetheless, a genuine prophet, and is used by God in spite of himself.

In the ACCA, the pre-Lenten season begins with the Fourth to Last Sunday of Theophany, which commemorates all departed priests. This year, this Sunday occurred yesterday. The Fast of Nineveh then occupies the next three days, Monday through Wednesday, so this Fast begins today and continues through Wednesday.

We in the ACCA have used this fast to pray especially for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ who remain in the Middle East. This year, let us also pray for those who suffer in Haiti and let us assist both in any way we can. One easy way to help ease the suffering in Haiti is to text the word Haiti to 90999. This will donate 10 dollars to the Red Cross for Haitian relief which will be charged to your cell phone bill.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pastor John Roop writes...

...about a visit to St. Demetrios in Knoxville:

Sunday last I attended evening Divine Liturgy at a local Oriental Orthodox parish – one of a handful of places in this world I know myself truly loved in Christ. This congregation conducts a vibrant and challenging outreach ministry to the Knoxville inner-city homeless population; several dozen men and women receive physical and spiritual nourishment from the church each week.

Sunday was cold – brutally so – and several “children of the streets” sought the warmth of the church during service. One sat behind me, a chronically homeless man who has made some considerable progress in the years I’ve known him; he is now more often clean and sober than in the past. Pray God to have mercy on him. He commented –good-naturedly – on the late arrival of a homeless friend, "God, they’ll let anyone in here.” I looked around and thought, “God, he’s right. They will.” Quite a spectrum of people crowded the small church that night: politically, from far left to far right; economically, from middle class to homeless; intellectually, from sophisticated to simple and even damaged; spiritually – well, who am I to judge that? I know there were saints there, and I know there was at least one sinner, so the spectrum was represented. My friend was right: God – in God’s name – they’ll let anyone in here.
John is the pastor of Holy Trinity Ecumenical Orthodox Church, a nondenominational house church in Knoxville. The above opens a sermon he preached recently on the Baptism of the Lord - and by extension, baptism in general.

One of the aspects of baptism upon which John focuses has to do with its social implications. To be baptized into Christ means being baptized into Christ's body, "the family of God". Read it all here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Prophets of old continue to speak...

"Bourgeois Life and the Orthodox Mind: The Importance of the Prophets"

"The institutions of bourgeois capitalism are incompatible, at their root, with the life of Orthodox Christianity."


"In sum, the modern world is based on the essence of Baalism: the belief in epistemological nominalism, the manipulation of natural forces for personal gain (which, it might be added, includes both magic and science), the justification of radical class stratification, legalism and litigiousness, ecumenical religion, individualism (the necessary consequence of nominalism), “republican government,” centralization of political and financial power, the continued sacrifice of lives in the name of “progress,” the fetishization of commodities, deceit, secret societies, moral compartmentalization and luxury. This is the Enlightenment at its essence, which means it was merely a “renaissance” of ancient fertility paganism, though fetishized as progress and/or science."

and, from the Fathers:

"The Church Fathers on wealth, poverty, social justice, charity, and communitarianism"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! (and Circumcision of the Lord, and...

...Holy Name, and Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and St. Basil, and the Octave Day of Christmas.

Did I miss any?

Just in time for this Most Holy of Days (at least by number of celebrations), from Fr. Jonathan Tobias (who serves a jurisdiction for which today is Friday, December 19, still within the Nativity Fast):

"I saw Him coming"

"so did you"

"Baby God"