It would be easy to fall into despair over the current crisis affecting the whole world — along with the Psalmist we cry out to the Lord “How long, O Lord, wilt Thou utterly forget me? How long wilt Thou turn Thy face from me.” Churches are closed, families and friends separated, worry is on the increase as we await the inevitable. What can we do in the face of such a crisis? “How long, O Lord, wilt Thou utterly forget me?”
From out of this crisis, the Church has a unique message to proclaim: you matter, you are loved by the infinite God; and more so, you will rise again. The Church offers to you and to me — and to the whole world — the truth that death is not the end, death has been defeated. Over the coming weeks we turn to the Lord as we await his glorious Resurrection.
Yet the Resurrection only came through the Cross and the Tomb. We, as we face this crisis, must also crucify our own egos, crucify our sin, crucify our self-centredness — the Lord has removed even the consolation of our communal worship, along with the Mysteries of the Church: will our spiritual enemy say against us, “I have prevailed against them”? Each one of us is buried in a tomb: Let us each cry out, together with King David, “I will sing unto the Lord, Who is my benefactor, and I will chant unto the Name of the Lord Most High.”
The Lord says of us, his flock, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Not life according to the parameters of this world — not life according to good health, good food, comfort and ease — but true life, abundant life. The Church offers to each one of us the fullness of life which comes when we set aside this transient life for the sake of God and his Kingdom. We all have the opportunity, while “trapped” at home, to contemplate life and to open our hearts to the eternal: let us take this opportunity to reorientate ourselves to the Lord.
I preached a sermon in 2019 for the Sunday of St John Climacus, Are we saints? I pray it may be of benefit to you.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.
“Why am I not like the saints?” This is a question which is easy to pose to ourselves. We read the lives of the saints, we hear about them in Church – the Theotokos, the Forerunner, great Apostles, learned Hierarchs, Ascetics, Kings and Queens, Martyrs – and we wonder why God has chosen them and not us. “I could never be a saint,” we lament, “I could never do what they do.”
When we hear these two words, “saint” and “holy,” we should remember that they are pointing to the same reality. And, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is to this reality, to sainthood, to holiness, we are called. “[A]s he who called you is holy,” says the Apostle Peter, “you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” When starting his epistles, the Apostle Paul often uses this language,
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.
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:
I understand Vespers will be live-streamed at 5 pm on Saturday 4th April and the Midnight Office, Matins and Liturgy from 7.30 am on Sunday 5th (the Liturgy will start by 10 am).
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.
Saints and Feasts
Thursday 2nd April — St Titos the Wonderworker
Friday 3rd April — St Niketas the Confessor, Abbot of Medikion on Mount Olympus & St Joseph the Hymnographer
Saturday 4th April — Saturday of the Akathist Hymn of the Most Holy Theotokos
Sunday 5th April — Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast: Sunday of St Mary of Egypt
Monday 6th April — St Methodios, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Enlightener of the Slavs
Tuesday 7th April — Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America
Wednesday 8th April — Apostles Heredion, Agabus, Asyncrtius, Rufus, Phlegon and Hermes of the Seventy
Thursday 9th April — Hieromartyr Theodore, Abbot of Crowland
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