In this email
Message from Fr Alexander — The one who goes before
How to Start (and Keep) a Prayer Rule
Live stream information
News of Future Services
Saints and Feasts — 27th August–3rd September
Offer of help
We considered last week the Theotokos, so central to our piety and our constant intercessor. In this week the feast of the Beheading of John brings our minds to one whose ministry is essential in our understanding of what happened in first-century Palestine.
All four Gospels mention his ministry before Christ starts his own. St Mark’s Gospel starts, characteristically, stark and full of action.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ”
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
(As an aside, all would do well to read through—before the end of September—a Gospel by themselves or with family: Mark’s Gospel is an excellent start).
The Church refers to St John as the Baptist: but often we prefer to call him the Forerunner. He goes before Christ preaching repentance and is arrested before Christ, ultimately going before Christ to death. But that is not the end, even in Hades he preached the coming of Christ and the time for humanity’s unjust enslavement by Death was coming to an end.
The Forerunner, then, is telling us—quite literally—the End is nigh: repent! For all time, from Pentecost to today is the End and now we must act, we must repent from our wickedness.
To “repent” means “to change your mind.” It means to accept that I have deviated from the way of God and I ask him to call me back. “Lord, I have separated myself from you: guide me back to your presence.” And the Lord finds a route for each of us to travel. The Lord does not reply to us, “I have no way for you, you are forever lost,” but like a SatNav looks at our position and finds the quickest route to him. Like a SatNav, too, when we fail to follow the route he has given us he immediately calculates a new one.
Lord, I have fallen short of your glory: call me back to yourself and save me!
And we can say this prayer every day, every moment. This is not because we always fail but because we can always be transformed from glory to glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18).
Dear Friends, be transformed through repentance—through turning, moment by moment, to the Lord—that you may be vehicles of his grace. Listen to the example of the Forerunner and Baptist John, whose heavenly intercessions encourage us along the way to the Kingdom of God.
How to Start (and Keep) a Prayer Rule
In this latest episode of Be the Bee, #147, Steve talks about how to pray. Are there ideas and suggestions you could use in your prayer life?
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:
Usually Vespers on Saturday evenings at 5 pm and Matins and Liturgy on Sunday mornings from 7.30 am.
News of Future Services
We want to start to hold services together: things are difficult now but they remind us that we can do nothing by our own power. Only when we place our hope in the Lord—and not in our own skills, talents, ideas, imaginations—will we be able to build a house for the Lord.
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 27th August — St Poemen the Great (c 450). Newly-revealed Great-Martyr Phanourios of Rhodes.
Friday 28th — Anna the Prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, who met the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem (1st). St Moses the Black of Scetis (4th). St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (430).
Saturday 29th — The Beheading of the Holy, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.
Sunday 30th — 12th after Pentecost. Apodosis of the Feast of the Forerunner. Ss Alexander (340), John (595) and Paul the New (784), Archbishops of Constantinople.
Monday 31st — The Deposition of the Cincture (Sash) of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Church of Chalkoprateia (c 530). St Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne (651). St Cuthburga, Queen of Northumbria, first abbess of Wimborne (c 725).
Tuesday 1st September — Church New Year, Beginning of the New Indiction, 7529 AM. St Symeon Stylites (the Elder) and his mother St Martha (c 428). Righteous Joshua the son of Nun.
Wednesday 3rd — Martyr Mamas of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and his parents Martyrs Theodotos and Rufina (3rd).
Thursday 4th — Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses. Martyr Hermione, daughter of St Philip the Deacon (c 117). Hieromartyr Babylas, Bishop of Antioch (251). Hieromartyr Gorazd, Bishop of Czechia, Moravia and Silesia (1942).
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