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Calendars

I am particularly pleased to report (as your perennially calendrically challenged priest) that the 2016 church calendars are finally here (thanks to Dn. Peter and Matushka Sarah) and that the online church calendar is now up-to-date (thanks largely to Dn. Peter). There may still be a few minor tweaks yet to come to the online calendar, but it should now be accurate enough that you can use it to plan your church attendance for the rest of the year and rest reasonably assured that you won’t have to do a lot of rescheduling.


Christmas

The Nativity is when God Himself revealed the hidden greatness of the small and the ordinary.

Make no mistake, though… It was revealed to us in retrospect as we revealed our race – the human race – to be Christ-killers. It seems there was no other way to get our attention, so God, being rich in mercy, Himself undertook it, beginning with the smallest and humblest possible beginning: His own birth. And ending with the greatest possible calamity: His own death.

But, of course, that’s not the end… Pascha is coming.


Site Clean-up

Just a quick note to draw attention to the fact that this site has finally gotten some much-needed love, thanks in part to our wonderful web-designer Tom Froese, and to knowledge gained from my amazing co-workers in my “secular” job, Joe and Kyler. Thank you, Tom, Kyler, and Joe! The most notable change is the addition of our church Bookstore page, which was there before, but which is now properly labelled!


Excerpts from an Interview

I always enjoy responding to interview questions – the challenge of communicating what we believe to those who know little about the faith always forces me to think a little more deeply about why we believe what we believe. I particularly enjoyed the recent experience of being interviewed by a student from a local high school. Here is an excerpt from that e-mail interview:

How do Christian beliefs apply to daily life?

The three central specifically Christian beliefs are that
1. Jesus is God, who became one of us,
2. Jesus entered into our suffering, died on the cross, and rose from the dead, so that our experience of suffering and death might become meaningful and that we might rise from the dead with him, and
3. we are to love one another as Jesus loved us.
Undergirding all this is an understanding that there is only one true God, who created the whole universe and created us in His image, entrusting this planet and everything in it to our care.

This means that as Christians go about their daily life, they try to
1. pray, as we were created to be in communion with God,
2. love all they come in contact with, as individuals created in the image of God, and
3. take care of everything they have as stewards (caretakers).

How important is worship and prayer to you?

Worship and prayer are essential, as they are the actions by which we enter into communion (loving communication/relationship) with God, which is the reason we were created: as expressions of our love-relationship with God, worship and prayer are our raison d’être.

How important is religion in your daily life?

It is of primary importance, since it is life’s primary source of meaning.

Is it possible, in your opinion, to live almost exactly as the Bible says?

The Bible says a lot of things. If, by this, you mean is it possible to live as Jesus teaches us to live, my answer would be “Yes, and no.” Jesus teaches us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbour as ourself. He teaches us to love our enemies and to love one another as he has loved us. He teaches us to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” All of this is obviously impossible. On the other hand, Jesus teaches us to repent (admit where we are wrong and work to change our minds and behaviour) and to forgive and that we will receive God’s forgiveness as we forgive others. This is eminently doable. If we continue in love and in repentance and forgiveness, it is possible to live almost exactly as Jesus teaches us to live.


Christ Is Risen!

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

During this Paschal season, this is our continual greeting to one another, as common and as familiar to us as, “Hello! How are you?” And indeed, it should be both common and familiar – a part of our everyday life – but with the common and familiar there is always the danger of lack of thought. We will often say, “Hello! How are you?” to one another without the slightest vestige of real concern about how the other person is. We cannot let this happen to something as central to our faith as our Paschal greeting.

What then, are we saying when we greet one another with these words?

We start with Christ, who is the starting point of all things, the object and the wellspring of our faith, the source and the fulfillment of all Creation. What starting point could be more appropriate? And the word “Christ”, of course, is the Greek for “Messiah”, God’s promised Saviour. We start, then, with the fulfillment of God’s promised salvation.

Our greeting ends with “is risen” – in fact, both the greeting and the response to the greeting ends with these words. This is the ultimate end and purpose of our faith, Christ, the Risen One, in whom we are also risen. Contained within these words is also the understanding that Christ is risen from the dead, as we also sing repeatedly this Paschal season. Death rules over all this present world, but in going through death like Christ, with Christ, death, the ultimate end, ceases to be an end at all, but rather a new beginning. The resurrection from the dead is the heartbeat of our faith, the understanding that all the pain and sorrow and suffering that we endure in this life is merely temporary – and not only so, but, in the words of the Holy Apostle Paul, “is not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed in us.” As the sun rises in the east and disperses the darkness, so all our light and momentary afflictions will vanish in the dazzling daylight of Christ’s glorious resurrection as it is revealed in us!

The last portion of our Paschal greeting we need to keep in mind is the word “indeed” in the response. This is our response to the news of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, that it is the ultimate truth. There are many truths in this world, some good and some quite hideous, but for us, as Christians, as those in Christ and in the process of being raised with Him, the resurrection is the truth above all other truth. Nothing compares to it, everything is seen in an new light because of it, because for us as Christians in Christ, everything takes place in this ultimate deed.

How are we, then? How can we be anything but overflowing with joy, as Christ is risen indeed!