In this email
Message from Fr Alexander — The Age of Authenticity
Why People Stop Being Christians (and What We Can Do About It)
Live stream information
News of Future Services
Saints and Feasts — 21st–29th October
Offer of help
We are fed with doubts from our society, from our world: we may call this even the Age of Doubt. René Descartes, the 17th-century philosopher, said “I think therefore I am,” but he may as well have said, “I doubt therefore I am.” Doubt is the primary source of this age: we see the idea of “proof” being explored to greater extents. We no longer accept the word of a person, we expect proof: documentary proof, CCTV proof, DNA proof. Our Age of Doubt has led us to question what holds us together, our cultural norms, and to push boundaries.
And in this culture, atheists believe they have won. They will ask those of Faith, “Prove God exists.” Some will fall for this bait and try to retort “Prove God doesn’t exist.” The atheist will quite rightly answer “You cannot prove a negative,” and leave smug and self-satisfied. Others will try to respond “We don’t have proof, we have faith.” This comes across as a hollow answer, half-hearted, which can do nothing for our faith nor reveal to others the truth of the Gospel.
Our Age of Doubt believes that only what can be scientifically proven is true. Yet this assumption is what needs to be challenged because it is objectively wrong. Are the works of Shakespeare false because they are works of fiction or do they still bear truth? Is a poem, a song, a piece of music, a painting, a book, able to convey truth? Can you prove that your wife, your husband, loves you to the required standard of our age? Can you prove Julius Caesar existed? Or Genghis Khan? Or even Queen Victoria? Why do some in our age require scientific, incontrovertible, proof of the existence of God but take the existence of Henry VIII for granted?
And so we can stand before the challenging atheist and point to the truth we have received. There was a man called Jesus of Nazareth, he taught in Galilee and Judea in the first century, he healed the sick, he raised the dead. He was crucified by the Romans. His followers believed he rose from the dead and offers new life to all through faith in him. They were willing to suffer arrest, torture, and the cruelest of deaths for the sake of proclaiming what they have seen rather than say it was a lie. And their witness, their martyrdom, has been passed on through the centuries to this present day. Still we meet saints, holy ones,
But, moreso than this, we can offer the atheist, the man of doubt, before us the Gospel as we have received. We can say, “Despite how you treat me, I will treat you with respect and courtesy, I will listen carefully to what you say and do my best to understand your position. I will honour the image of God you have within you. I will stand for Truth, but do so with compassion.”
Yes, dear friends, we live in an Age of Doubt but it is also an Age of Authenticity: our Orthodox Church can offer the only true and authentic experience available to humanity, an encounter with God. Authenticity stands high on the list of many around us as the mark of truth and we have an opportunity to bring an authentic experience with all with whom we interact. And when we offer such an experience we enable God to work in their hearts as well as our own.
Lord, help us to open our hearts to the fullness of your teaching that we may be vessels of you and offer your love to our neighbour.
Why People Stop Being Christians (and What We Can Do About It?
Why do people walk away from the Church? Am I heading away from the Church by my current actions or inactions? How can I encourage others in their Faith?
Does this video from Steve help you to answer these questions?
As we move further into autumn worries are increasing on the possible increase in the spread of the disease. Yet there is a division: one side is accused of scare-mongering while the other of irresponsibility. The situation is becoming fractious and each side’s position is becoming more entrenched
Our duty as Christians is to stand for truth and to bring about unity. But to stand for truth does not mean to ridicule nor deride those who are wrong, it is to act patiently, humbly, lovingly: in other words to be Christ-like. We do not shy away from the truth nor do we separate ourselves from others.
The Church has a clear position as given by our bishops: we are to obey the civil authorities on these matters. We follow the law while maintaining our Faith and thus provide a witness—a martyrdom—of the Gospel. And then, by trusting in the power of God and not our own, we may become an icon of unity and concord.
Would you like help? Advice? Support? Then let me know.
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.
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.
Saints and Feasts
Wednesday 21st October — St Hilarion the Great (371–2).
Thursday 22nd — Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Averkios, Bishop and Wonderworker of Hierapolis (c 167).
Friday 23rd — Holy Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord (c 63). St Maerwynn, Abbess of Romsey (999). St Ethelflaeda, Abbess of Romsey (1016).
Saturday 24th — St Demetrios Commemoration of the Dead. Martyr Arethas (523). Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, Joy of All who Sorrow (1688).
Sunday 25th — 20th after Pentecost. (Luke 6). Martyrs Marcian and Martyrios the Notaries, of Constantinople (c 355). St Tabitha, the widow raised from the dead by the Apostle Peter (1st).
Monday 26th — Glorious Great Martyr Demetrios the Myrrh-flowing of Thessalonika (c 306). St Eata, Bishop of Hexham and Abbot of Lindisfarne (686). Commemoration of the Great Earthquake at Constantinople (740).
Tuesday 27th — Martyr Nestor of Thessalonika (c 306). St Procla, the wife of Pontius Pilate (1st).
Wednesday 28th — Martyrs Terence and Neonila and their children (3rd).
Thursday 29th — Martyr Anastasia the Roman (3rd).
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