See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

Ryan and friend

Ryan and friend
Mommy, Daddy, I'm saying Hi to Grandma?

This one is for you, Grandma!


soccer with determination and no airplane distractions

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Prize of the Upward Call of God

What is the upward call of God, so that we shall inherit the prize? Certainly in Philippians chapter four we learn that many walk not in the way of the cross of Christ. They are those whose god is their belly, glory is their shame, but most of all they set their MIND on earthly things.

They do not receive the prize but, destruction.

Soon we will celebrate Thanksgiving and in doing so we are once again called to look toward our neighbor. It is a time for thankfulness and sharing, not gluttony.  Sunday, during the Liturgy we sing a hymn that tells us "to lay aside all earthly cares". We are not meant to carry the world upon our shoulders and it is enough for us singularly to try to transform ourselves with God's help, our lowly body. Understanding that only He can change us from the corruptible to the incorruptible, by following His example, that is: putting on Christ.

Today the light shines dimly but, with single mindedness we must look for the pattern to attain the goal which leads to the prize, the upward call in Christ Jesus, which God will reveal to you.

I leave you with this thought? What have you done lately to love your neighbor? Let's let the light in and let it shine forth in a world of darkness, reaching for the hope that there is --and let generosity shine, one person at a time, forgetting those things which drag us down, reaching towards those things which are meaningful and helpful, then, just ahead and to come....the Prize.

Love, joy and Peace can be yours if you are willing to take on the "Light" and let it shine forth in a darkened world, "Let it begin with me."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hearts Desire

Have you ever made a wish for something and wanted it so badly that you could perceive how it looked, tasted, and desired it to the point of almost seeing it before it happened?

If someone gave it to you, surely you'd be compelled to say "how did you know"? Certainly that person would have to know you quite well, and really want to please you, whether or not you deserved it. That is unconditional love.

I have just described Jesus to you and His ability to know what it is in your heart of hearts. He knows all your secrets and all your desires. When you least expect it--there it is, and it's perfect. You might not even be asking at the time, or maybe it's something that you may even have forgotten that you had once wanted, or even asked for. He didn't forget or wouldn't forget as He lives to please you.

I've gotten things that only He could give me. No one else knew. He makes all my dreams come true.

He has a perfect plan for you too. Have faith, and in time you will see what a friend we have in Jesus.

Taste and see that the Lord is Good, that the Lord is Good!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Entered into the Wedding Feast

Perhaps the most popular prayer, recited by most religions is the "Our Father." One of the lines says,  Thy Kingdom come. Today the gospel reading is helpful in our understanding of the kingdom. Matthew 22:1-13 tells us who is invited, where the kingdom is, the wedding garment, and more. But in the final verse (14) it says --"For many are called, but few are chosen." The next question should be what happens to those who are not chosen? and clearly in verse (13) it says "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" in a place called outer darkness. To be cast out will be by your decision, one unchangeable and eternal, having rejected God.

Sadly, people are being misled to believe that heaven is automatic and it is not necessary to go to church to attain salvation, also, their confession of faith will be enough to enter into through gates.

(5)"But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business." Are we to busy for God.  We see many who are invited to the Wedding Feast to worship God in His Kingdom, which is on earth as it is in heaven, but have not the desire or time. They are not willing to come.

If you have been baptized and chrismated, you have entered into the marriage or union with Christ, now and to come. We receive the body and blood of Christ at the banquet table each Liturgy. The kingdom is where the King is.

Worshiping God is His first commandment. We must enter in with humility, having been given the invitation and ability to serve in what ever way we can with thanksgiving, true repentance and walk in the way of righteousness, through the grace of God.

Only then, can we find salvation in God's Kingdom, through Christ for all humanity, for all time.

The Gospel of Luke 14:23 "Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.' "

His desire to fill His house will not be frustrated. We must all do our part by invitation and prayer for the salvation of all mankind.

Scripture readings taken from the Orthodox Study Bible


Monday, July 27, 2015

Compassionate One

Yesterday's reading was so meaningful and insightful. It was the one in which people gathered to hear our Lord Jesus speak to large crowds of 4,000 or 5,000 men excluding in its count the women and children. I used to think how could they get the numbers right when reading different versions of this story, missing the whole point. It is NOT about the numbers, it is about the way the Lord sees each and every one of us within those numbers with compassionate eyes.

I like looking at shows such as the survivalists, where we are taught how to create fire in various ways. Yes, fire can be made from many materials both man-made and natural. Knowledge is power and essentials are needed to survive. God supplies us out of his compassion, as he did feed the multitude.

The interesting part of the story is that grown men were given the task by Jesus "You give them something to eat." (Matt 14:16).
They had said previously, that it was a "deserted place." Jesus maintains that they, (the hungry people) need not leave.

Five loaves and two fish, were given over to Jesus to feed the multitudes. After the distribution, there was twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. (Mark 6:43). This means to imply that God can fulfill all our needs with great abundance.  His abundance is never exhausted. He is enough.

Three type of people are found here, beside the needy. One who says, we can't, and they don't even try. The other who says perhaps, we can if we try. The last type just gives everything over, knowing and trusting that whatever they have is enough, whether physically or spiritually, and gives it to God to multiply for everyone to receive.

God provides the blessing and we the distribution.

Everywhere you turn people are concerned about futuristic things. During my recent travels, I met an old woman, who was from the Russian Church. She pulled out a cross like the one my husband wore around his neck, saying that it was given to her for a baptism gift. She was saddened by the way people have turned away from the Church and by their lifestyle choices. I told her I believed in the power of God and His ability to do all things in His love and plan for us. Luke 12:5, paints for us a picture of current events, especially verse 4-6.
(vs 7) says, "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows."

Today, I am grateful for the God who loves me and loves you too. Who not only sustains us in the here and now, but has an everlasting plan for us, when we like the crowds, draw near to Him. He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

(verse 8) "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God."

The one thing that you can depend on in life, is that God loves you, and He will provide for you, if you seek and ask Him.

references taken from the Orthodox Study Bible

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The scarlet days of summer

Wherever did they get the expression cool as a cucumber? Whenever I think of a summer salad, I see as one of the basic ingredients, cukes. It's summertime, and it's anything but cool lately.

According to the latest map, the states are heating up. Fortunately, not in New England, at least weather-wise. Otherwise there is shit in the caboose, as my mother-in-law used to say, problems everywhere. I've noticed that "heat" triggers many short stacks. Like it or not, the heat will be soon upon us. I for one, cannot stand the humid hot nights. There used to be a song about the hazy, lazy, days of summer. Days where you lose your appetite and want to sip on ice  or whatever, barefoot.

What has changed you wonder as the sun is so intense burning your skin mercilessly while the water drips down your forehead? I never used to sweat like this, perhaps, it's my age. I find myself wondering--was it always like this? Or, has something radically changed? Somehow, so much is and has become different.

That's it! It's summertime and the liven is not easy anymore. Maybe we've become the new south, and why not when the snow we had this winter was more than what they got in Alaska.

What happened to the "good 'ole summertime"  maybe that was just a myth. We wait all wintertime for it to get here and here it is--the dog days of summer are back. On snowy freezing days I dream of the beach and ice cream treats. On hot summer days, I think that we are experiencing a  foretaste of another unknown place.

Today, the huge black carpenter ants have retreated after weeks of spraying and battling them inside and outside our home, only to be replaced with the upcoming relentless mosquitoes. Seriously, this is paradise, where else would I want to live, compared to those who battle much worse situations, just check the news.

I have everything, a nice screened-in area with beautiful gardens, you name it--and still I complain. Guess I have the "summertime blues". Why? because we want perfection on this side of the planet and I know that ain't going to happen anytime soon.

So the question remains---Is it worse than ever? Who knows. The good news for New Englander's is we are blessed with changing seasons, one of life's blessings. June has been a busy month for birthdays, fathers day, graduations, weddings, summer camp, and our anniversary. It's time for church picnics and boating, hiking, walking on the beach, vacations on the shore, and so much more. The days are longer, and no winter boots or attire. No shoveling snow and I love my husband's barbequed meats. Concerts begin this Sunday on the common. What can be better than the Summertime?

I wonder what it will be like when my grandchildren get older with the talk of climate change? I remember how hot it was when I was a kid. And yet, it feels so much hotter now. The storms seem to be intensifying as well.

One thing is true.... it's like a song that was sung when I was a young girl. Kay Serra, Serra..whatever will be, will be... the futures not ours to see...Kay Serra, Serra. What will be, will be.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How Do You See Jesus of Nazareth

The Jesus that I've come to know requires little from us. First we need to ask ourselves who is He, why did He create me and why does He love me? These difficult answers do not come to us overnight, and will require communication (prayer), on our part. As evident in the gospel at the Temple, Jesus demonstrated by the overturned money changers that worshiping God is never to become commercialized, its much more than that. We've all heard it before, grow your attendance and the revenue grows with it. Almost like a business, and all about power and numbers. The truth is the Kingdom of God, is all about love of God and neighbor and self.

The fact is that things were in need of change then, as well as now, as Mike Slaughter in his book Renegade Gospel so correctly stated: "Following in the way of the cross will mean a radical reordering of our priorities."
Change, not because any religion dictates this action, but the following of  Christ and your new found love for Him will be the reason for its mandate. It is the mystery of God at work, for the working out of your salvation.

Some will focus on the whip. I say of those that do, it is more a telling of how they are perceiving Jesus based on their own physical and mental condition at the time. This is not repeat not the Jesus that I have come to know. We all need reminders from time to time. Jesus came not to force us to love Him, but to enable us to see Him so clearly that we cannot help but Love Him hopefully, for all eternity.

Many years ago, I came to know my Savior, who revealed Himself to me in Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

He is not the tyrant as some need Him to be, but a nonjudgmental loving God who cannot help but find you to be the apple of His eye. We are called to become like Him.

Certainly, those who choose Him and desire to be His followers, are committed even unto death. We live in troubled times, as they have always been, but one thing is certain, He is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In The Twinkling of an Eye

In the Twinkling of an eye you will be changed is a phrase that I've heard somewhere, and at the moment, I'm at a loss to remember where. This rings true in our back yard today. I have never seen long-dead plants come back to life as fast as this year. What appears to be budding in the early morning is in fact fully grown by evening, like my weeping cherry tree.

Instead of nice spring weather, we got a very humid ninety degree day, with pollen all over, making it miserable for many hay fever suffers. It happens so fast, that you do not have time to adjust to the temperature change of instant summer. Even the snow disappeared quickly leaving the ground very dry, and in some communities red flagged. 

Needless to say, we wanted to drag out the pool already, but settled for just getting wet with water cans and the like. Some potted plants are just now starting to develop tiny baby leaves as most perennials return. They are growing quite fast even before we can finish putting down our mulch in the back.

Mother's day was great. The lilacs were already in bloom, and it brought back many happy childhood memories and I remember I used to bring some to my mom every mother's day. We bought my mother-in-law a cute ceramic birdhouse planter, which has a straw nest and ivy growing from the top. On the house sits a lovely yellow ceramic bird on a stick, making it the ideal choice for her.

While in her room, a young woman from Kenya, told us that she cannot stand this heat which was far worse than anything experienced in Africa, much to my surprise. Once she finishes her education, she is planning to return to her homeland. I was surprised to hear that as I always thought nothing was hotter than Africa and some of the desert parts of the world. She claimed that the heat was very different.

It's been getting hotter in the sun, like the sun has grown in intensity, causing burns. And, it feels more like summertime than spring. What is really odd is that the butterfly's are out before the butterfly bush. Yet, the pesky May bugs are out right on time. It may all be in the twinkling of an eye, but it certainly is not paradise.

Not sure what is going on, but I feel things are very different here in New England.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are privileged to bear the title of motherhood. As well, it is a special day to remember also those who are no longer with us, who devoted their lives to having raised children, and in some cases grandchildren. They deserve our gratitude, loving memories and prayers. Let us not forget those in waiting, for the anticipated blessing of their lifetime, with the hope, joy and honor bestowed upon them and their new arrival. Your life is about to dramatically change--forever. You have our best wishes.

Today, I got a special surprise when my nephew came over with a card and gift. He has been like a son to me, and is one of my many godchildren. Now grown up and towering over me, he makes all mother's and godmothers proud. What was so unique about the present, was not the cost but the thought. I have wanted for many years, a replacement of the cherished plant called the umbrella, which produces lovely little white flowers in the spring. It resembles a clover plant, and was part of a collection that my mother cultivated, giving starter plants to friends and family. I had received a piece of her plant, which I lost and hoped one day to replace.

I have memories of my first born son, born in April, having the flowered plant on his dresser. It has special significance to me and is greatly appreciated. I know that Matt potted the plant himself, and came with directions on how to care for it. How did he know?

It's the little things in life that mean a lot to mothers. The first time you look into your baby's eyes, their first little laugh--when you know that they are truly happy. Their first step and everything new that they accomplish from day one to full grown adults.

Once your a mother, your given a sixth sense, becoming like a mom to all, and nurturing is what you can't help but be to everything and everyone you put your hands on.  And, as if that isn't enough, you sometimes get the chance to do it all over again with the grand kids. There is no greater joy!

My sister, who has gone to her eternal rest and who I miss so much, was a mother of four children. One mother's day she presented me with a heart-shaped pink box which has been one of my favorite keepsakes throughout the years. It reads: "A mother's love is the fairest flower that grows in God's garden."

Well said...We will get together to share dinner and it will be divine. And yes, Ryan grandma made the chocolate cupcakes with green frosting and jimmies, and Nate you'll have your chocolate-chip cookies with vanilla ice cream. Family means the world to me and I'm lucky to be so loved.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Be Still Oh My Soul

Looking out of the window, I thought of these words, Be Still Oh My Soul. How often do we want to just be doing nothing --with a list a mile long, yet the wisdom in it.

I was born in a small town, which is more like a small city now, and live on the outskirts.  City-like with it's traffic lights and structural development, it even has it's own hospital, cancer center, YMCA, fire and police, fully staffed, large library, and an abundance of churches. I guess you could say we have it all in many ways. It is not like the neighboring towns that surround us, in fact they have been utilizing our commodities for as long as I can remember. We have a beautiful golf course, and our own airport.

One might think this the ideal place to live, not like in a smaller town, where many have to rely on their own septic systems and wells for water. Luckily, in this area, we have an abundance of resources. What's lacking here, is employment, like many towns established in the early 1800's.

Having been exposed to the mid-west with the threat of tornadoes constantly, and the east and west coast cities, I find where I am to be a blessing. I didn't feel that way when I was younger. Then, I thought that there was nothing for us to do, except chores. Coming back this way, I fell in love with the environment, clean and green, and grew a new appreciation for my birthplace. A place of hills and valleys, just like life. We are surrounded by lakes,  and water resources in natural settings having many varieties of birds, and wildlife.

It is so quiet here right now that one would have to invent noise, which is not the case in most cities. Yet, people get used to their surrounding sounds and accept the punishing pace as natural and unassuming. They probably do not know what it means to be "still" and just quiet, the way a baby looks when it sleeps. It's crazy to live life on a rail. And sadly, most people do not even realize their pace.

Today I've taken the time to observe stillness. The stillness outside the darkened sky, where nothing absolutely nothing is moving, because there is no wind. Nature has taken the time to take it all in. Perhaps, waiting for the nourishing rainfall, we all need to be refreshed, in a like manner. There is a time for resting, even though for many, life goes on by the calendar of scheduled events. We become frazzled and anxious--and as well, sick. Realization for some, comes too late.

Let us take a lesson from nature, and in our stillness just breathe. Be showered with the luxury of rest. Chew your food before you swallow it, and open your eyes to the beauty in your midst. Finally, Spring is here, and in this valley, beauty everywhere has begun. Drink in the stillness--it won't always be this way, for nothing lasts forever.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Stirring Up The Water

The Pool of Bethesda becomes a place of miracles at a certain time of year, having an angel stirring up the water for a blessing for the first recipient to step forth after the stirring. That person, would receive  a healing of whatever disease he had. According to John 5:3-4. Many sick people, waited for the water's movement, the blind, lame, paralyzed--a great multitude of hope-filled people came. John reveals in the next verse that a man had been there, who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. Jesus knows that he had been in that condition a long time and poses this question to him "Do You Want To Be Made Well."

Several times, it is made mention that it was the Sabbath, a day which is unlawful to carry his bed. Yet, this man, who was a Jewish paralytic man, is not only healed, but does in fact, carry his bed. The Jews seemed less interested in the miracle, but in seeking the one who healed him, saying in verse (12) "Who is the man who said to you "Take up your bed and walk'?"

The infirm man in verse (7) said to Jesus, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me."

After 38 years, this man still had a shade of hope, even though he may have believed that he wouldn't have been fast enough to be the first one in the stirred water, he still was there, he came, wanting to be made well. Even so, Jesus stimulated the sick man's faith. 

A common belief was that illness and misfortune were divine retribution for sin. Jesus tells him in the temple, (14) "See you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."

It has been made clear that you must step forward in faith to receive healing, if healing is what your heart desires.

Healing requires patience and the willingness to keep on trying. This says to the reader, never give up no matter how long it takes. Jesus loves you and desires all to be saved. Believe it and your life will be changed forever.

Scripture reference is taken from the Orthodox Study Bible, John 5:3-15

Monday, April 13, 2015

Christ Is Risen

On Holy Friday evening we are given the Gospel reading according to Matthew (27: 62-66) in the service book of Holy Week and Easter, used widely in the Orthodox Church. The Pharisees are gathered before Pilate remembering that Jesus, (whom they referred to as an "impostor") predicted that after three days He would rise again. And, thinking that His disciples could steal Him away, and tell the people that "He has risen from the dead," would make it a greater "fraud" than the first. Pilot told them to "make it as secure as you know how." They made the tomb as secure as possible, sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Their plan failed, while His disciples, afraid of the same fate, were found to be hiding when the news came to them. Matthew 28:2-10 (Sunday: Christ is Risen) tells us -- "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men."

"But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."

On Holy Saturday evening the words of the ninth ode cut to the heart when Jesus says "Mother, it is of my own will that earth covers me, but the gatekeepers of Hades shudder seeing me clothed in a robe stained with the blood of vengeance. For as God, having vanquished the enemies on the Cross, I will rise and magnify you."

"Let creation rejoice; let the earthborn be glad; for Hades the enemy has been despoiled. Let the women meet me with fragrant spices; for I liberate Adam, with Eve, and all their line, and on the third day I will rise."

"Having become earthly, though the Creator, You made the earthborn new; the shroud and the tomb merely manifest the inherent mystery, Word of God. For the respected councilor carries out the will of Your Father, who renews me gloriously in You."

"You transformed the corruptible into in-corruption and showed it to be the fountain of resurrection into life immortal."

"This is the day of resurrection! O people, let us be radiant. It is Pascha, the Lord's Passover; for Christ God has carried us over from death to life, from earth to heaven, as we sing a victory hymn."

Christ is the only way, only hope and the salvation of our souls. Glory be to His saving passion and resurrection. 
Christ is Risen, Indeed He has Risen!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Peace and Quiet

Today was one of those days that I appreciate the most, looking out of my kitchen window toward the wooded area, which was snow-covered and peaceful, I observed the critters moving about, silently. It was one of the reasons that we fell in love with the land in which our home is built. Solitude and peacefulness is something that comes with a cost just as those who purchase land on a lake or sea coast. I cherish the beauty of the gardens and relish the clean air we breathe. It wasn't that long ago that I recall swinging my grandsons on a beautiful sunlit morning, while we watched the birds gather seeds from the hanging feeders. My own little corner of the world, you might say.

Day in and day out I read about the controversy going on such as those wanting to foster the unity on campus, and in silence, I ponder the situation. You can't please everyone all of the time. There is such a thing as the rule of fairness. My grandfathers came from other countries with the hope of a better life for themselves and their offspring, (us). They didn't come here to change our country, but to become part of the great melting pot of ethnic people that exist here. This is after all an "All America City" we live in by choice. Freedom means having a choice to live where we want.

Years ago, growing up here, in a small town, I recall all seven of us eating at the table where a very nice chocolate pie was being served. Mom sliced it up without a measure, trying to cut seven pieces evenly. Still some objected saying "hey, your piece is bigger than mine." Nothing is perfect! We learn to deal with it. There is to be no favoritism if we expected peace and harmony. Co-existing is hard work. Nothing comes easy in this world, we all must try to do our best to get along with our brothers.

At 6 P.M. the fire whistle would blow from the station which was located near Main Street, and as a younger student, it didn't bother me. Years later as a mother, trying to put my baby to bed, it was a different story. Every time the alarm went off, it scared him so that I'd end up having to rock him to calm him down. Didn't like it one bit, but had to put up with it. After all, it announced possible quitting time at work, evening. Maybe it was the way people knew what time it was and they set their watches to it. I don't really know....It just was.

Everyone knows how annoying it is for someone to be leaning on their horn, any time of the day. It was one of my moms pet peeves. Another, annoyance would be loud music blaring from a parked car, or someones home music center. Anyone having the luxury of a practicing instrumentalist or drum player close by--gets it. Airplanes, and loud trucks, especially those cleaning up roads all hours of the night--get it.

We get used to noise that I call pollution. Noise pollution is at times unhealthy just as dirty air is unhealthy to the body. Living in the city I recall that the noise from subway trains would keep me from going to sleep. After a while, you sort of get used to it. Around here, before and after a certain time, noise can be considered "breaking the law." Most people have respect for their neighbor and wait until a decent time to run a lawn mower or chain saw.

Respecting others is a great way to keep the peace. Honestly I don't know how churches are allowed to play songs from their bell tower to be heard at great distances, without disturbing someones peace. Some go off right next door practically to other churches or, at the same time. If it's good for the goose it's good for the gander, so it is said.

A group of students petitioned Duke College to allow over a speaker system,  on Friday afternoons, broadcasting from Duke Chapel Bell tower, "a call to prayer."  Some view this as much a way of advertising as ringing a bell, so to speak. Church bells are rung all the time, without objection, whether it is disturbing someone's peace or not. I've heard that the call to prayer method is vocalized and can be utilized in some places sometimes five times a day, from predawn, sunset and sunrise. That is not what is being asked for here though, right now. Duke has reversed its decision, fearing that the once thought of fostering unity on campus, has met with the opposite effect.

It seems, according to WNCN -- "Franklin Graham had some harsh words for Duke." Reports of "pulling funding" and some security concerns were instrumental in the reverse decision making of Duke authority. Some fear that Christians, who are the majority there, are being pushed to the back, so to speak. I wonder if its more apathy, than anything else.

In the end, basic rules like "keep it simple, stupid" apply. Or, "when in doubt, leave it out."

What benefits all? My vote is for "peace and quiet"...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I believe in God, but I'm not religious

Today I found out that a popular saying means several different things. St. Paul in the midst of the Areopagus had something to say about it. Acts 17:22 "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; (23) for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, I proclaim to you:" After reading this, "being religious" takes on a new meaning.

How can you really worship an unknown God? How can you love someone you don't know?

Paul goes on to tell us who He is: (24)"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. (25) Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. (26) And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (28) for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' (29) Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. (30) Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (31) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He Has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (some having believed what Paul said, followed him.)

I wonder if I had to approach people, who somewhat believed in God, and who did not know Him, what I would  say. Paul talks about the creation of all, life-giver, repentance toward God, the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, and judgement of all mankind.

I wonder if people today understand things in the same way, that is, they know and believe that there is a God, but not having the luxury of being "churched" really do not know Him, nor do they know how or where to go, if they had an interest/desire to learn more. There are so many religions to choose from. Luckily, my parents were church goers but there are some who were not as fortunate. How would you decide?

The bible goes on to say "to join Paul and to believe meant to "enter" the Church as the corporate expression of Christian existence."

Entering the Church has everything with your belief. If you don't go, it says clearly that you are on the fence and not really to sure about things concerning "faith" in God. Remember the unclean spirits knew who Jesus was. Knowing who God is, does not save you. Maybe other "things" are your god. May be at this time you think you don't need God in your life. Whatever the reason, time is marching on, and will be at a point, spent.

The bible explicitly says that;(Acts 17:30)"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,"

When I hear someone say,  "I believe in God, but I'm not religious" I hear in my mind the "but", which prepares me for the excuse to come. It says to me, I'm not interested. Perhaps, it might be they do not feel the need to experience God and what He has to offer, or maybe they are too busy. Preoccupied, their time is more important.

One can believe in God, but without works it is fruitless. James 2( :19 ) "You believe that there is one God, You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble! (20) But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" 

What can keep us from the love of God? Loving, worshiping and serving God is a personal decision.

Maybe it's time to take that first step to life, life eternally and enter or reenter in. You don't have to be "religious" to step out in faith.

All scripture references have been taken from the Orthodox Study Bible and commentary

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Coming Out!

"The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing." Isaiah 35:1

There is a highway of holiness and whoever walks this road will not go astray. Those with everlasting joy on their heads, walk singing with gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

There is only one way to find that highway of life--eternal life and that is through the entrance, one of rebirth. "Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters: "Let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me, Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you." Isaiah 55:1-13

The invitation is extended to all, rich or poor. "Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."

We recall today the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by John. "The torrent of delight is baptized in the river, drying up the flood of evil, and gushing forth divine remission."  "granting deliverance from the servitude of the ancient sin, and sanctifying and enlightening us."

What happened in the waters was a transformation. "Eternal life is coming to reclaim Adam." 

Isaiah 35: "They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Isaiah 12:3-6 "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And in that day you will say: "Praise the Lord, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!"

Tone 6 of the forefeast 
"Prepare, O River Jordan!
Behold, Christ is coming to be baptized by John in you!
Rejoice, O barren wilderness!
Dance in gladness, hills and mountains!
Eternal Life is coming to reclaim Adam.
Forerunner, call out with the voice of one who cries:
"Prepare the ways of the Lord! Make straight His paths!"

The Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17

At that time, Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

Coming out from the water, we see the manifestation of the Trinity. His plan of salvation and a new beginning for all mankind. A new chance...Have you been Baptized and received the Living water and rebirth freely offered to all by His great love and compassion?

Today, at the blessing of  waters, we recall Adam. Jesus, the Bestower of Light, was baptized in the flesh, in the Jordan, to enlighten those in darkness. Through the mercy of God, we hope for salvation, sanctification and enlightenment. And, are exceedingly glad.

All references are taken from the "Orthodox Study Bible and service books"

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Celebrating the Forefeast of Christ's Theophany

The Great Vesper Service was so spiritually rich, it is the Forefeast of Christ's Theophany. The words were so powerful in their meaning that I wanted to share a few lines that I have reread over and over. This one, sung in tone 4, is special because it is directed to all of us.

"O faithful, let us celebrate the Forefeast of Christ's Theophany!
Let us sing hymns to honor the noble baptism of our God,
for He wills to approach the Forerunner in the flesh!
As a Man He asks for the baptism of salvation:
the regeneration of all those who accept Him in faith 
and become partakers of the Spirit."

"Seeking baptism, He comes to His servant.
Be filled with joy, O river Jordan!
Dance, earth and seas; hills and mountains!
Exult, O hearts of men,
for a great light is coming upon you! "

"You are the River of peace and valley of Paradise,
O All-powerful Lord.
How can a river receive You naked, in its course,
the One Who mantled the heavens with clouds?
You shall strip the evil Enemy naked,
clothing mankind with immortality!"

There is one question remaining. Are you clothed in immortality?
Christ was led as a sheep to the slaughter in order to grant Resurrection to the human race.
Each and every one of us, through faith can become children of God.

"Christ the King of glory had entered,
saying to those in chains: "Go forth!"
And to those in darkness: "Come to the light!"

All the World has been Enlightened and Sanctified by the Lord's Baptism

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee his Beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of his Word. O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself and hast enlightened the world, glory to Thee (Troparion).
Today Thou hast appeared to the universe, and Thy Light, O Lord, has shone on us, who with understanding praise Thee: Thou hast come and revealed Thyself, O Light Unapproachable!
(Kontakion) from the same source.

The Lord has appeared on earth as long foretold and He has left his footprint, Sanctification and great mercy.

Epiphany, celebrated in January, is a time when believers accept into their homes the blessed water, keeping some in reserve for when we need refreshment. There have been stories of healing from people who drink blessed water, and as well as, enjoy victory over other situations, like storms, protection and the granting special favors.

 My little grandson, says "get the holy water out" I'm sick, and runs to the refrigerator.

The voice of the Father bore witness to You Jesus, and Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truthfulness of His word. When You were baptized in the Jordan, enlightening and sanctifying the entire world. During Holy Week we hear the words sung from the troparion of Cassiane, "O thou Who dost gather into clouds the water of the sea." Vesper services begin with Psalm 103 which give us the beautiful image of creation, "The waters stood above the mountains" and "Thou makest springs gush forth in valleys, they flow between the hills." Waters permeating the entire planet, evaporating and flowing from Jesus who once stood in the river Jordan, refreshing us all and, all creation for all time. I recall reading that the waters "turned back." because they were afraid, identifying Jesus in the Jordon.

Christians live in blessed assurance and hope, for Christ came into the world to save us. He is still with us and will return as He promised. Revelation 21:4  "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;" Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible

Friday, January 2, 2015

Time Has Changed Us

Soon the first day of the New Year 2015, will be over and I can't help but think that time goes by at a good clip. Some of us saw the New Year come in, with the drop of the ball located in times square, in NYC.

I no longer feel the need to party till the wee hours as years previous. We enjoy our church service followed by dinner with friends.

It was unusual to be snow less this season, but we certainly didn't lack for frigid evenings. Yet, the ice is not frozen. One day last week it was forty-five degrees, unbelievable for this time of the year. The winter's just begun but somehow it doesn't feel like it.

My husband and I found it a world of pleasantness walking today at the village with the sun overhead and the air so crisp. Stopping in at the Freeman Farm House, we observed the lady of the house making candles, by dipping wicks, manufactured by area mills, having tied several onto dowel-like sticks, into hot melted processed fat.
The dripping set of three or four on a stick was then set over a rack to harden. Going from row to row she eventually got what looked like a tapered candle, unscented, and unlike the honey wax type, white. Looking down to the floor I observed a pool of greasy fat and realized the mess of it all and I was grateful that I wasn't born at that time. We are so fortunate today.

It was surprising that one candle would be used to light the entire house at night, and would be passed between family members as needed. The light from the family room usually came from the fireplace where family members gathered for warmth and conversation. Only the candles made that day would be used for an entire year. Without question, they were both frugal and conservative.

The fat they used was so soft that it actually did not hold up as well as the ones made from honey, creating a fire hazard greater than their fire places. Life held many challenges in the past which are hard to grasp in comparison to today.

Like a drop in the bucket, time has changed the way that we live, dramatically.What will tomorrow be like in comparison, I wonder.

I wonder if they had new year's resolutions and what would they have been? I don't think it focused on weight loss as people in that era were thin. They worked constantly, and had little time for leisure as we do. Most everything was homemade, unlike the way we live today, where we purchase our food, clothing, and basic necessity items.

We actually have very little in common with those who lived just a couple hundred years ago. It's a new day and new year and a time for new challenges and new beginnings. Make it a good one...