Twelve Apostles' Church Eastleigh

In Captivity

Dear Friends

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered Zion.

Upon the willows in the midst thereof did we hang our instruments.

For there, they that had taken us captive asked us for words of song. And they that had led us away asked us for a hymn, saying: Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten.

Let my tongue cleave to my throat, if I remember thee not, If I set not Jerusalem above all other, as at the head of my joy.

Remember, O Lord, the sons of Edom, in the day of Jerusalem, Who said: Lay waste, lay waste to her, even to the foundations thereof.

O daughter of Babylon, thou wretched one, blessed shall he be who shall reward thee wherewith thou hast rewarded us.

Blessed shall he be who shall seize and dash thine infants against the rock.

— Psalm 136 lxx

Approximately 600 years before the birth of Christ a new tragedy befell his people.  Already, three hundred years beforehand (930 BC) the ten northern tribes rejected the kingship of Rehoboam the son of Solomon and sinfully chose Jeroboam as their king even though he was not of the line of David.  This northern kingdom, known as Israel (the southern was known as Judah) was to survive for only 200 years until its destruction by the Assyrians about 730 BC.  This new tragedy of 600 BC was the Babylonian captivity where a large portion of Judah was forced into exile in Babylon for 60 years, Nebuchadnezzar laid waste to Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the temple.

“By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered Zion.”  The Church, in her love for us, takes up this psalm of exile, of loss, and applies to it us — particularly in this time of Lent.  Here, in this world, we are in Babylon, held captive to sin.  Here we hang up our instruments and lament our sin as we remember Jerusalem which is the Kingdom of God.

And even more so, our churches are shut and we must fast even from Holy Communion during this undefined period.  We are told to avoid even the most basic of human activities, contact with our neighbours, our friends, our families.  We cry out from this situation, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

~~~

A fast has been given.  And this new fast, this extra fast, has been given to us even from the Body and Blood of our Saviour.  A fast is not to say that what we give up is bad but that we may reorientate ourselves towards God.  The Lord has called each one of us to purify ourselves during this period that we may, once again, come to him with longing and love.  A few days ago, I posted onto our Facebook page,

The Lord, in his great love for us, has offered to his beloved faithful a Fast from his Body and Blood. How will we respond? With anger and resentment towards him?

This Fast, even from Communion, is a Fast of joy. It is a Fast to recognise that it is not only Communion where we encounter the Lord, where we come into contact with the divine, but in our service to others, in our life of prayer, in our daily existence.

We pray every day that the Lord will again allow us to receive his Flesh and Blood — and this anticipation will teach us to have this same longing at all times, before each Liturgy.

Now is the time for prayer.
Now is the time where we repent of our sin, where we do not take Communion for granted.
Now is the time for the Fast.



Covid-19 Response

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.

Live stream

The Monastery of Saints Antony and Cuthbert, Shropshire, is live-streaming its services for all who are unable to go to their own churches.  These are over Youtube and can be accessed here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfWMaefJYqFEZkYiK2WmeEw

The next service will be on Saturday 28th March at 5 pm for Great Vespers: do watch if you can.


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.

Patron

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.


Resources

Have a look at our website —  orthodoxeastleigh.uk
If you click on the “Blog” link, or directly here, you will see all past emails as well as sermons etc.

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.


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

Fr Alexander
webenquiry@orthodoxeastleigh.uk