How are you preparing for Great Lent? The Church has given us two parables to consider in the Sunday Gospels, first “The Publican and The Pharisee” (Luke 18:9–14) where we learn what is true prayer to the living God and that righteousness is not measured by works but through humility. Then we heard “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11–32) who “came to himself” (verse 17) and realised he has a home in the Father’s house; verse 17 marks the end of his descent away from God and he ascends towards him — how many of us can learn from him and, too, “come to ourselves”?
This coming Sunday, we will hear a beautiful Gospel reading, this time from Matthew, on the Last Judgement (25:31–46). How will this affect your preparations for the Great Fast? I strongly encourage you to read it beforehand as well as listen to it at the Liturgy.
Whom shall I send?
Chapter 6 of the Prophecy Isaiah (link) is an amazing account of the Prophet before the Throne of God. Here he hears the angels crying to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (verse 3) which we sing to this day in the Liturgy and other divine services. Verse 8 has a beautiful interaction between the Lord and his prophet,
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
God is asking the question, “Whom shall I send to Eastleigh? To Hampshire? To Southampton, Winchester, Fareham? Whom shall I send to all the other towns and villages?”
We rejoice that Christianity is already found in this area of England, we rejoice too that there are three Orthodox communities who already meet and are established in Southampton, yet we have been tasked with establishing a House of the Lord in Eastleigh, to proclaim the saving death and resurrection of Christ and invite all to grow in faith and love for God through the Orthodox Church.
I cannot do this alone. I need each one of you to reply to the Lord, “Here am I! Send me.” Not because of our talents but despite our failings, not because of our strengths but despite our weaknesses. The Lord is calling each of you to be his witnesses. The section from Fr Theodore’s presentation about our witness being an evangelistic tool starts in the video at 35 minutes and 8 seconds, I strongly recommend you watch it again.
Orthodox Christians, in the divine services, are called “Faithful.” So, to be an Orthodox Christian you must be faithful, to be faithful is to be an Orthodox Christian. Are you willing to be full of faith? Am I? Or are we going to treat this new community as a place we can go to get out a “spiritual fix” when needed then depart? If we, each one of us, are unwilling to be full of faith then an Orthodox Church in Eastleigh will not be possible at this time.
How are you, am I, willing to express our faithfulness? If someone were to look at our diaries, or look at our bank statement, or listen to us talk, or watch us at home and at work, would he believe we are faithful? What are our priorities in life?
I am inviting you, each one of you, to deepen your faith, to encounter the divine in all that you do, to come together as a worshipping community that we may invite others to join us in the body of Christ. Come and see!
We still have yet to hear any more news on where we may be able to meet, we hope it will come soon. Lent would be an appropriate time for us to start a worshipping community — as we prepare for the Resurrection of Christ we prepare together to establish a new temple for his praise.
Our Facebook Page, facebook.com/orthodoxeastleigh, too, has daily additions during the week as well as on feast days. Please do like and share our page and content so we may reach a wider group of people.
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Saints and Feasts
Saturday 22nd February — Saturday of Souls
The Saturday before Meatfare Sunday is always one where we remember those who have fallen asleep. It seems fitting that, on the day before we read the Gospel reading for the Last Judgement, we pray for those who have fallen asleep before us. We pray for the dead. We pray for them because we love them and we know that love is stronger than the grave, that they will arise on that Last Day. We pray because we want to hold them before the Lord and ask his mercy on them. Click here for more information.
Sunday 23rd February — St Polycarp of Smyrna & St Milburga of Wenlock
St Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor (modern-day Izmir in Turkey). The document, The Martyrdom of Polycarp, is the earliest account of a martyrdom outside the New Testament. St Polycarp was a disciple of St John the Theologian, the writer of the fourth Gospel, so is closely linked with the Apostolic Age: he died somewhere around the middle of the second century but the documents are consistent that he was old at the time, 86, so was born around the time of St Paul’s martyrdom and in the lifetime of several eye-witnesses of the Resurrection. Click here for more information.
St Milburga was one of three sisters, all of whom are honoured as saints. St Milburga entered the monastery in Wenlock (now known as Much Wenlock in Shropshire) and became the second abbess: her prayers worked miracles and we ask her intercessions for us. Click here for more information.
Monday 24th February — First and Second Finding of the Head of the Forerunner
The Forerunner has several feasts throughout the Church Year. After the Forerunner’s beheading his body was buried by his disciples but his head, in the possession of Herodias, was buried near Herod’s Palace. Through revelation, the head was discovered first by two monks in the fourth century and taken in a clay jar to Emesa in Syria. After it came into the possession of an Arian heretic, who took the glory for the miracles worked instead of honouring God, the Arian was driven out from his cave and the memory of the location of the Forerunner’s head was lost. Later, it was discovered again by a pious monk guided by a star. It was enshrined in the Cathedral in Emesa and later taken to Constantinople. Click here for more information.
Can I help you?
I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.
Can you help the mission?
Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.
I ask your prayers for me.
With love in Christ