Saturday, March 7, 2009

More on Lent and a Little Humor

Yesterday's post on Orthodox Christians and the Scriptures was pretty heavy. I thought I would lighten things just a little bit today, before returning to the topic later today or tomorrow.

First, here is an excellent reflection on Lent from the excellent blog site "Fr. Ted's Blog," written by Fr. Theodore Bobosh, the pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church in Dayton, Ohio, and the author of three books, as well as many articles. Enjoy Fr. Ted's words:

Lent is a season of repentance. That is, a time for us to feel the depths of the sorrow and distress which our sins have caused the world. There indeed is a sorrowful tone to the music, the colors, the liturgical services. And yet, it is a season of joy, because with the coming of Christ and his death and resurrection, the impact of sin on the world is overcome. That joy is tempered by the fact that we still live in a world in which sin and death are all too obvious. So the lenten season brings us the mixed emotions of joy for the salvation God has freely bestowed on us, and sorrow for the affects of our sins on the world and on each other - sickness, sorrow, sighing, death. Look at the lives of our friends - the mother whose son has died, the man who just lost his father - and we see the tragedy, pain and suffering which death has become in our lives and in the world.

Lent reminds us that we need to feel that pain - not avoid it, not cover it over or pretend it isn’t there. We need to feel the pain and the suffering and the sorrow to bring ourselves to true
repentance. We also need that tragedy and grief so that we will ask, “Why?”

The rest of the post can be found here.

The next thing I wanted to share was something I heard in the newest edition of the "Theologically Thinking" podcast from the Orthodox Christian Network. This podcast features a talk given by Fr. William Chiganos, pastor of Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester, Illinois. I recommend listening to the entire talk if you can. My favorite part was the very end, in which Fr. William emphasised that in addition to abstaining from food during Lent, we need to do the following five things:

1. Live simply.
2. Live generously.
3. Care deeply for one another.
4. Speak kindly to one another.
5. Leave the rest to God.

Finally, here's a little humor that a high school friend of mine sent me.


One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it. The six-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, 'Good morning, Alex!''

Good morning Pastor,' he replied, still focused on the plaque. 'Pastor,what is this?'

The pastor said, 'Well son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.' Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque.

Finally, little Alex's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear asked,'Which service, the 8:30 or the 10:45?'


Paul said...

I didn't know we had 2 services Fr. I thought it was just one really long one every Sunday. Yes, I am dead on my feet by 12:15pm. :)

charlene said...

Father James,
Belated happy birthday! I hope you found your 41st year full of joy and promise, and that God will bless your coming year, and may you have many ,many more.

If I am interpreting Fr. Ted's column correctly, then I am totally confused about everything I thought I had learned this year about God. Fr. Ted talks about the pain and suffering in this world including the mother whose son has just died. Suppose that were an ORthodox mother reading this column, and say that child had just died of leukemia. Would we tell her to rpent because her actions contributed to sickness in this world? It bothers me to see that as an example of suffering stated in such close proximity to to being sorrowful for our sins causing sickness. It reminds me of the Charismatic preacher I once heard tell an audiance that having an epilectic child was punishment for the parents' sins.

Maybe I am misinterpreting Fr. Ted, but he seems to be saying God wants us to be in pain and to suffer. I think going through pain and suffering can bring us closer to God, and he wants us to reac up aaour hand to him when there is pain in our lives and to depend on him. I think he wants us to recognize our utter dependence upon his mercy and his love. I think he wants us to repent our sins and recognize how undeserving we are of his mercy. I also think that when we confess and our sins are forgiven through our priest, that God wants us to ACCEPT His forgiveness and to feel the joy and peace of reconciliation with Him. I do not think he wants us to block out the joy and peace the reconcilliation with the pain of previously forgiven sins. We should be contemplating and asking forgiveness for our current sins, and patterns of our sins , and certainly think about the way those sins hurt others. Shouldn't our goal in any season be to repent, accept God's mercy, and to grow in communion with Him, feeling the joy and peace of His love so that we can share that love in a million different ways with those around us?