In this email
Message from Fr Alexander — Sere the Lord with fear
How should Orthodox Christians Preach the Gospel? — Be the Bee video
Live stream information
News of Future Services
Saints and Feasts — 4th–12th November
Offer of help
Most discussions regarding this second lockdown are not, in my unworthy opinion, helpful because they are not pointing us towards God. We can speak either of the government overreacting or underreacting depending on our perspectives, or we seek to ascribe motives to their policies: but none of these directs us to the one thing needful. They are pointing to ourselves and towards what seems to be our fears.
Fear comes up in Scriptures. We often speak of,
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
— 1 John 4:18
And we believe our love is inadequate because we still fear. But this is only one aspect of fear:
Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
— Psalm 2
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
— Proverbs 1:7
So we need to unpack this. Fear has an object, something to be fearful of; in our world it is rational to fear a wild lion. But the mood around the lockdown seems much less fear of and much more anxiety about. And it is anxiety which is dangerous for a Christian: anxiety does not need an object, we can say “I am anxious.” as a complete sentence whereas “I am fearful,” seems incomplete: it begs the question, “Of what?”
Therefore I say to you, do not worry [do not be anxious] about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
— Matthew 6:25
Anxiety leads to despondency and despair, anxiety leads us away from God and it is precisely anxiety which we are feeling about this second lockdown.
Will our anxiety make us more healthy?
Will it shorten the lockdown?
Will it lead us to salvation?
Anxiety’s problem is that it is directed into the future which is a fantasy, the future exists tomorrow and beyond, not in this moment which is the present and a present from the Lord; now is our salvation, not tomorrow.
The government has given us instructions on how we all are to proceed against the virus: these instructions are from the Lord. Whatever the sayings of some vocal Christians online this is not a persecution against Christians—to claim so is to belittle what those under Communism, or under the Turkish yoke, or under the great persecutions, have suffered. We have been given this great blessing from the Lord to strengthen our Faith and to place our trust in the Lord: we have been invited to answer the questions,
Is my only interaction with Church when I receive Communion? When I get what I want? When I can treat the church and the clergy as despensers of blessings at my own convenience, as a spiritual pharmacy?
We have been given the opportunity—almost certainly the greatest opportunity ever in our lives—to renew our Faith and to deepen our own foundations. We take our anxieties, our worries, and offer them to the Lord.
Lord, I cannot control these things:
help me to give them up in my heart
and place all my hope in thee,
serving thee with fear. Amen.
How should Orthodox Christians Preach the Gospel?
Is the Church a secret in our lives? Should it be? Steve explores this in episode #155 of Be the Bee.
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.
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 4th November — St Ioannikios the Great, Hermit on Mt Olympus (846).
Thursday 5th — Martyr Galaktion and his wife, Epistimi, at Emesa (3rd). Apostles Patrobos, Hermas, Linus, Gaius and Philologos of the Seventy (1st).
Friday 6th — St Paul the Confessor, Archbishop of Constantinople (c 350). St Illtyd, Abbot of Llanilltyd Fawr (6th).
Saturday 7th — Thirty-three Martyrs of Melitene (3rd). St Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrect, Apostle of Frisia (739)
Sunday 8th — 22nd after Pentecost. (Luke 7). Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the other Bodiless Powers: Archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salathiel, Jugudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel. St Cybi, Abbot of Caer-Gybi (555). St Tyssilio, Abbot of Meifod (Powys, 7th).
Monday 9th — St Nektarios Kephalas, Metropolitan of Pentapolis (1920). St John the Short of Egypt (5th).
Tuesday 10th — Apostles Erastos, Olympas, Herodian, Sosipater, Quartus and Tertius of the Seventy (1st). St Aedh (MacBricc), Bishop of Meath (6th). St Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury (627). St Arsenios of Cappadocia (1924).
Wednesday 11th — Martyrs Menas of Egypt (304), Victor at Damascus (2nd) and Vincent of Spain (204). St Martin the Merciful, Bishopp of Tours (397).
Thursday 12th — St John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria (619). St Neilos the Faster, of Sinai (5th). St Machar, Bishop of Aberdeen (6th). St Cadwaladr, King of the Welsh (664).
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