In this email
Message from Fr Alexander — The Gospels
Is Self-Care Selfish?
Live stream information
News of Future Services
Saints and Feasts — 14th–22nd October
Offer of help
Last week we spoke of the Gospel of Christ—the news of Christ’s victory over death and that all who believe in him may have eternal life—so we turn now to consider the Four Gospels. These are highly treasured books we have in the Church: they are enthroned on the Altar table of a Church and are the symbol of the presence of Christ here among us. This is the only book we actually kiss.
And, unlike so many of our ancestors in the Faith, we have the opportunity to have our own copy in our homes: the invention of printing has brought the price so low it is possible to buy a copy of the Bible for virtually nothing. But do we make use of this resource, dear brothers and sisters? Do we take advantage of the gift we have been given by modern technology? We no longer even have to open a Bible, we can read it on our computers, phones and tablets. Is the Bible, are the Gospels, central to your life? Or are they an afterthought?
What difference would reading the Gospels daily make to your life?
Each of the four has his own characteristics. Matthew focuses on Christ as the Messiah of the Jews, and spends much time explaining how what is doing, and what he is saying, is the fulfilment of the Old Testament. Christ is presented as the Teacher, the Law-giver who interprets the meaning of the Law.
While Matthew brings forwards the Lord’s teaching, Mark emphasises his actions: he paints a vivid picture of the events being described. Mark does not expect his audience to understand Jewish customs so he explains them, indicating that the text was written for a Gentile audience.
Luke, too, wrote for a Gentile audience but is very careful to remind us of the importance of those marginalised in the society of the time. Women play a prominent role as do the poor. Luke emphasises prayer which comes up a lot.
John’s Gospel is the most theological and therefore, perhaps, the most precious. To read John it is necessary to have knowledge of the events of the other three as he takes these for granted while presenting key events which the others have not covered: he is filling in the gaps in the others.
Take time, brothers and sisters, to read these carefully. I strongly suggest reading a whole Gospel through—perhaps you could start with Mark’s Gospel?
This past week I shared on Facebook a short piece on the priesthood of all believers.
All human beings are priests: a priest is one who takes the ordinary and offers it to God. And when we offer something to God it ceases to be merely what it was, it becomes a symbol of something new, something transformed, something reflecting the divine.
We instinctively know this. As children we are constantly creating, seeing meaning in something mundane, ordinary, commonplace. In a stone, a can, a screwed up piece of paper we see a ball, a tool, an instrument. We look beyond what is ordinary and see the extraordinary.
The Church invites us to remain in this child-like (not childish) state by inviting us to carry on in this creative act through offering what we see to God who allows us to give new meaning to an object. And when we see an object which has lost this new meaning it has been given, we want to restore it to its former glory, or to repurpose it with a new meaning, a new symbolism, a new creation: we want to offer it once more to God.
Is Self-Care Selfish?
How can we look after ourselves without indulging ourselves? Steve explores this in the latest video.
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 14th October — St Paraskevi the Younger, whose relics are at Iasi (Romania, 11th). Martyrs Nazarius, Gervase, Protasius and Celsius, of Milan (1st). St Kosmas the Hymnographer, Bishop of Maiuma (c 787).
Thursday 15th — Martyr Lucian, Presbyter of Antioch (312).
Friday 16th — Martyr Longinos the Centurian, who stood at the Cross of the Lord (1st). St Gall, Hermit and Missionary at Bangor and Luxeuil (c 630).
Saturday 17th — Prophet Hosea (820 BC). Martyrs Ethelred and Ethelbert, Princes of Kent (c 640).
Sunday 18th — 19th after Pentecost. 3rd Sunday of Luke. St Julian Sabas (Syria, 4th).
Monday 19th — St John of Kronstadt (1908). Prophet Joel (4th BC). St Frideswide of Oxford, Abbess (c 735).
Tuesday 20th — Great Martyr Artemios at Antioch (362). St Acca, Bishop of Hexham (c 740). St Gerasimos the New Ascetic, of Cephalonia (1579).
Wednesday 21st — St Hilarion the Great (371–2).
Thursday 22nd — Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Averkios, Bishop and Wonderworker of Hierapolis (c 167).
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