Much of our world has turned to panic in the face of an unseen enemy; the word “unprecedented” is announced with much more resonance than its usual hyperbolic character; and we are in the midst of the Great Fast as we prepare for the Feast of feasts, the Festival of festivals, the Resurrection of our Saviour.
And yet … and yet we have a champion, a victor, who has defeated and annihilated Death. It is our place to rejoice.
Whatever may come of the present situation, along with the Apostle Paul we can remember,
We should follow government advice whenever we can. We are not being asked to give up or deny our Faith, but many are being told to stay socially isolated and this will last, perhaps, for many months.
How can you respond? Pray. We pray because we love and because we know the power of prayer. We pray not as a last resort but as a first response.
Is there anything you need or anything you can offer? Let me know — my telephone number and email address are on each of the emails: please get in contact if you are feeling isolated: I am here for you.
Are you willing to contact isolated people via email or phone? Let me know! It would be good to match up those who need help with those who can offer it.
Fr Theodore spoke on growing Orthodoxy from 57’56”.
It will be of no use, if the Lord grants growth to our mission, if we satisfy ourselves with merely our own community. If we are to realise the potential within us we should be looking for opportunities to support the growth of the Church throughout the region, throughout the UK, throughout the world. A Church that is not captured by the Spirit and desires to introduce God to the world is deficient.
The five principles outlined in the video, of which is this the last, have allowed the community in Portland to grow — primarily in quality but also quantity. How are we to develop these, adapt these, make use of these in our lives? Are you willing to walk with me along this path?
News of Future Services
Given the current situation in the UK, and throughout the world, about the Covid-19 (Corona) virus it would be prudent to wait for our plans to meet together as a worshipping community. I hope and pray this will pass soon.
This is an invitation for us to repent and to pray.
We need to be praying, too, that the patron of our new community will identify himself, herself or themselves to us. I believe it will not be so much that we choose, rather we need to pray that the choice be revealed to us.
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.
Do you receive the weekly (on Fridays) text message? If not, then let me know.
This past Sunday, the second of the Great Fast, was dedicated to St Gregory Palamas: I preached a sermon at St Dunstan’s, What is the meaning of life?
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.
What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a human being? These questions, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, are fundamental to our existence: among all of humanity, whatever religious beliefs, we ask the questions, “Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life?”
How then are we to approach these questions? We look to our origins, our foundations. Some will look to a Big Bang, which led to a series of causes and effects which, in turn, led ultimately to you and to me: in other words all my achievements and failures are not the result of me but of the cause and effect of the universe. I can do nothing which has not been predefined by fate — an interesting concept in the age of secularism, science and reason. Yet this line of thinking leaves no room for the cause of the Big Bang, the Ultimate Cause, from which our universe is the effect.
The Church, in her love for us, offers us a different origin. The Church tells us there is an Ultimate Cause, who is not a force, a type of fate, but is a personal God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God created this universe and saw that “it was good.” And into this Creation God sets man. We, each one of us, are created “in his own image,” with dignity and freedom.
My dear brothers and sisters, do you recognise the image of God in all you meet? Do I? Or do we reserve it for our friends and families? For the powerful and important? Do we recognise in the beggar, the sinful, the criminal, the hated, the despised, the downtrodden and the homeless the image of God? Or do we walk by on the other side?
Yes, the Church offers us a different understanding of where we come from, our origins, but she goes further. To understand what our purpose is — the meaning of life, the essence of humanity — we must know our target, our goal.
Our Church has an important message for the world: you are not the result of billions of years of cause and effect, you are free — even more so, you are created to become divine. And this destination, phrased by St Athanasius the Great as human beings “becoming by grace what God is by nature,” is of vital meaning to our world. So many within our society feel their lives have no meaning yet we are here calling out: “you are of infinite worth, you matter to us and you matter to God.”
Saints and Feasts
Friday 20th March — St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
St Cuthbert did much to bring the Gospel to Northumberland and is considered a wonderworker: his relics are in Durham Cathedral (Anglican) still. Read more.
Sunday 22nd March — The Veneration of the Holy Cross (Third Sunday of the Great Fast)
The Third Sunday of Lent is a day dedicated to the Holy Cross. The Cross is set in the middle of the Church at this point in the middle of the Great Fast as an encouragement to the Faithful. A few years ago, I wrote At the Sign of the Cross.
At the Sign of the Cross
Strength is given
A blessing bestowed
for Christ is risen.
At the Sign of the Cross
Love doth reign
Through Christ, the Paschal Lamb,
Death itself is slain.
At the Sign of the Cross
The whole world doth rejoice
Now both realms, Heaven and Earth,
Might sing with one voice.
Cry out, O ye peoples:
Shout and proclaim
At the Sign of the Cross
Man, with God, is united again.
Wednesday 25th March — The Annunciation to our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary
Exactly nine months before Christmas the Church invites us to enter into the mystery of the Incarnation again. Every day, at the end of Compline, we have this beautiful hymn,
Awed by the beauty of thy virginity,
and the exceeding radiance of thy purity,
Gabriel stood amazed
and cried to thee, O Theotokos:
“What praise may I offer thee
that is worthy of thy beauty?
By what name shall I call thee?
I am lost and bewildered;
but I shall greet thee as I was commanded:
‘Hail, thou that art full of grace.'”
In this hymn we are asked to imagine the role of the Archangel Gabriel who with fear and awe has been sent from Heaven to ask the very best humanity has to offer to become the Mother of God. And he trembles, standing with amazement. In reply, the Panagia says in all humility, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38).
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