Attending Services

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Rules of Conduct in Virus

If you are sick, stay home.

Please wash or sanitize your hands when you arrive.

Please leave any donations in the offering basket, they also may be mailed.

Please put on a mask, when you are less than 6 ft. away from another person not from your home. Please remember to always maintain 6 ft. between people or wear a mask.

We can still bow to icons, but don’t kiss them. We do sanitize before each service.

To receive communion tilt your head back, open your mouth wide and allow the priest to drop it in your mouth. Try to not touch the spoon at all.

Please do not touch the cloth or chalice.

No blessed bread will be distributed until the end, in an individual cup.

When speaking with people following the services, maintain social distancing and/or wear a mask and limit your time together.

The Story of the World We Live In

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The Story of the World We Live In

July 8, 2020 · Fr. Stephen Freeman

Some ten or so years ago, my wife and I were hunting for a long-ish audiobook to entertain us as we made a 10-hour drive. A novel was one possibility, but none came to mind. As it was, we chose a book named “Salt.” It was an account of the world in terms of salt – its use, its production, its vital importance to human life, and its place in the shaping of our history. I was skeptical as the trip began, but found myself intrigued as the hours rolled by and we journeyed across world history courtesy of everyone’s favorite condiment. Salt apparently belongs to something of a literary genre. The author of Salt has also given us Milk, Cod, Salmon, and Paper. I need to schedule more road trips.

What these fascinating books illustrate is that the story of the world, and civilization, can be told from any number of angles. Is the world really just the story of salt? Or, could the story of the world be told from the point-of-view of a single grain of sand? Doubtless, more would be said of the endless procession of ocean waves than is accounted for in our historical travails. As narrative creatures, we tend to dismiss the grain of sand as nothing more than background, a prop that supports the real action. A single grain’s story, however, would provide a great deal to consider. The silica and other elements that make up the average beach have an origin, no less complex than our own, though with fewer words and emotional tensions.

These exercises in historical perspectives are instructive for understanding the limits of all historical conversations. In history, we are always right to ask, “Who is telling the story? What’s this story about? From what point of view is it written?” If we were speaking of a “pure” history, then it would be the story of everything, about everything, told from everything’s point of view. Such, of course, is impossible. Choices must be made. When the choices are made, those questions will be answered more finitely and with greater precision. But what is then called “history” is not really about everything – but about a few things, and always with a point.

During a time of social upheaval, one of the most disturbing aspects of our lives is the turmoil within the public narrative. How do we speak about ourselves and others? How do we describe what is taking place. What is unfolding?

For the faithful, this disturbance should be revealing. The nature of the secular world is that it establishes the dominant narrative for the world. Without noticing, we quietly make the Christian story to be a sub-plot of this larger account. Our faith becomes what secularism tells us: a personal option that is, at most, a religious life-style. We feel powerless and worry that the voice of the Church is silent. Indeed, I hear this when various people suggest how the Church could make its voice more “effective.”

There is a “clash of narratives” as Christ stands before Pontius Pilate. Pilate imagines that the Roman Imperium is the true narrative and defining story of the world. He threatens Christ, “Don’t you know I have the power to kill you or to release you?” For Christ, the Roman Imperium is but a passing moment within the salvific providence of God. “You would have no power over me were it not given to you from above.”

This same clash of narratives occurs day-by-day in our own lives, though we rarely notice. We hear the dominant cultural narrative announce its importance and power. Our response is anxiety and concern flows from the fact that we believe its claims to be true. Imagine Pontius Pilate’s shock at being told that he would have “no power” over Jesus had it not been given to him by God (“from above”). It is Christ’s complete dismissal of the Roman narrative. The martyrs of the early Church lived in the same dismissal. Their faith was the full acceptance of the narrative we have received from God in Christ. Christ’s death and resurrection is the final word of God on the outcome of human history. In Christ, history comes to an end, and we won. That quiet assurance eventually led to the complete failure of Rome’s claims.

The danger resurfaces, however, as converted empires, and their secularized children, begin to assert new narratives that seek to replace the gospel of the Kingdom of God with the bastardized gospel of progress and human perfection.

There is always a danger within the political life of modernity that our participation will mark our capitulation to its narrative. As such, our vote (or other such actions) always borders dangerously on the pinch of incense offered to the emperor as worship, a thing rejected as idolatry by the early martyrs. I say, “borders,” because it need not be a capitulation. But, in order to refrain from that capitulation and blasphemous offering, there is a need to deconstruct our own vote.

So, what is the narrative that explains our vote? Do we imagine that history depends on such a thing, that the world is being constructed through politics? Again, in His dialog with Pilate, Christ said:

“If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)

The ballot is certainly a “peaceful” way of joining battle (thank God!), but it, nevertheless, generally assumes the Hobbesian contract in which the world is a pitched battle for control. The nature of the American social contract is an agreement to allow the ballot box to replace the battlefield. Nevertheless, it presumes the supremacy of the ballot. That is its presumed narrative.

For the Christian, the narrative of the gospel of Christ is, always, the controlling structure of our life. That work of Christ, completed in His death and resurrection, are the sole source of peace and true meaning. We may vote, but the outcome rests in Christ, just as surely as the outcome of Pilate’s judgment was not truly in his own hands. None of this denies the actual historical reality of our actions. Rather, it affirms the historical reality of Christ’s actions and their lordship over every human reality. There may be an election whose outcome could be classified as “death.” It remains a fact that Christ “tramples down death by death.”

For too many, the Cross of Christ has disappeared into the historical past and become a “fact” about which we proclaim a doctrine, a religious belief. As for the present, we take up our swords (even the peaceful ones) and imagine ourselves as having been delivered into the wars of this world for good or ill. (Do your best!) However, the historical character of the Cross does not exhaust its content. The Cross is an event of the God/Man. It is the marriage of heaven and earth, both within time and utterly transcendent of time. It is an eternal moment while being truly historical. Its “cause-and-effect” is equally eternal and triumphant over every human cause. Every human cause is thus “judged” by the Cross. An election, like every act of the human will, stands before the Cross and has its meaning within the light of the Cross. It is only in that Light that we see light.

Christ’s words, “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world,” remain true and triumphant. Today, this is the story by which we live. All of creation holds meaning only in its light. God forbid that we imagine this to be a religious conversation and not a conversation about the whole of life.

We all stand before Pilate. However, it is God’s story that rules the world.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

Upcoming Events and Sunday Bulletin

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July 19-26

Wednesday  9 am-Divine Liturgy-Mary Magdalene 6 pm-Orthodoxy Class-bring a  Bible-5th Century and End Times

Thursday     12-Molieben for an Epidemic

Saturday      5 pm-Vespers

Sunday        9 am-Matins

Sunday        10 am-Divine Liturgy

Sunday, July 19-6th Sunday after Pentecost-The Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils

 The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. (12:6-14)

Brethren, Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (9:1-8)

At that time, getting into a boat Jesus crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven,' or to say,Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, take up your bed and go home.”

And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

 Prayer List:

Sub-deacon Mitri and Nora Moussa, Helen Nicholas, Barbara Demis, Dennis Poney, Lydia Holt, Lily Zelner, Anna T., Matushka Sasha, Fr. Ian, and Alia Karras, Al Maruskin.

On Receiving Holy Communion

Let us attend.

We welcome all people to come and worship with us, however, only Orthodox Christians in good standing may come to the chalice and receive the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This means that we believe it is the Body and Blood, not just bread and wine. This means that we confess ourselves to be sinners in need of salvation and we have participated in the Sacrament of Repentance and Confession, confessing our sins to the priest for absolution and forgiveness.

St. Paul teaches us that there is a dangerous way to receive communion, unworthily, not discerning the Body and Blood, this can cause people to get sick and possibly to die. (cf. 1 Cor. 11:26-31) But St. Paul does not teach us that we can get sick if we approach the chalice the right way. We cannot get a virus by consuming the Body and Blood of Christ. The God who created the cosmos, appeared miraculously in the burning bush and revealed Himself in the Holy Trinity can certainly keep us from illness when properly communing with and consuming a miracle. This does not mean we blindly go worth, but we go forth in faith; distancing, sterilizing, masking, etc.; out of love for neighbor, not believing that the building itself will keep us healthy. We do not put God to the test.

The miracle is in the chalice, not the people nor the building. But even with that we are careful, tilting our heads back, opening our mouths and allowing the Gifts to be dropped in with care. Not touching anything, for the sake of the weaker brethren. Have faith, not fear; be cautious, not afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

The Church Is Not a Cruise Ship, But a Battleship

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By: Archpriest John Moses | 28 December 2019

It always surprises me when someone comes to the Orthodox faith. Given the present age, there are so many versions of Christianity on offer. Many of them are in step with the values and hopes of the culture. Some offer a path of prosperity and comfort (whether they ever deliver is another issue). Some offer helpful hints for hurtful habits and demand little more while others teach the path of positive thinking. In some, the music is rousing and contemporary, but often the theology is not intellectually demanding.

Why then would someone want to join a Faith that asks you to be regular in your attendance instead of coming when it suits you; that you fast as a lifestyle; adopt a prayer rule instead of just praying what you want and when you want; tithe instead of dropping in the box whatever you have in your pocket; study to challenge your thinking instead of believing that all you have to do is “read and heed”; attend classes to learn from others, etc.

Read more here: battleship

Elder Ephraim Reposes in the Lord

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On December 7, 2019 at approximately 10 p.m., Elder Hieromonk Ephraim of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos Arizona, founder of 17 monastic communities in the United States, peacefully fell asleep in the Lord at Saint Anthony Monastery in Florence, Arizona at the age of 92.

The Athonite elder, loved throughout the entire Orthodox world, also remained the spiritual father of several monasteries in Greece and on Mt. Athos, where he labored for many years as the spiritual child of the recently-canonized Elder Joseph the Hesychast and as abbot of Philotheou Monastery.

The Funeral Service for Elder Ephraim was held on Wednesday, December 11 at Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, Arizona. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America presided, along with numerous hierarchs and monastics of his Archdiocese. May his memory be eternal!  ​

 

A Simple Approach to Reading the Entire Bible

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Archpriest John Whiteford | 04 August 2019

There are some elaborate charts that tell you how you could read the Bible all the way through in one year — which if you followed, would work fine. However, I wonder how many people have ever followed such charts all the way through, because it would require that you make regular reference to the charts, and remember where you were on the chart.
On the other hand, many people simply open up the Bible at Genesis, and then get bogged down somewhere towards the end of Exodus and Leviticus, and then quit.
One method I would suggest is much simpler to follow, and if you do, you not only will read the Bible all the way through in about a year or so… but you could continue to read the Bible and get a balanced intake of the various parts of the Bible rather than hit one section that is difficult and then lose interest.

Read the rest here: Read