Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bibles And Churches

No one can dispute Jesus.
It doesn't matter if you are a religious person or not,every one feels Jesus was a good and loving person.
Jesus was soft spoken and easy in temperament,he loved all people regarless.
He knew people before he met them and accepted them for who they were.He suggested and encouraged and most times did not get angry,unless it was necessary and usually that was directed toward the religious leaders whom he felt had ulterior motives and knew better.
Reading the bible is a great way of getting a general understanding of Jesus and his teachings but in order to be a true follower more is required and this is were church comes in.
Most people tend to view church in a negative fashion they see rules and regulations and do not understand why they need such constraints in a nation based on freedom.
After all aren't we are own judges who run our own lives?
Back in the time of Moses God understood that the Jewish people needed freedom from Egypt in order to make them a nation of God.
He understood that man could not serve two masters so he decided that taking his people from slavery to freedom was in their best interest.
Once they gained this freedom the next thing God did was send Moses up the Mountain to get a set of rules called the Ten Commandments,since God made man he understood that he needed laws to make his chosen people different from the rest of the world around them,after all they were not only going to worship him they were going to represent him.
In this country we too are a free people.
As small children growing up our parents instilled rules to help us grow into healthy happy adults who are good members of our society as a whole.
Children may hate having their freedoms taken away but as they mature they understand that most of the things they were taught had a purpose and now make sense as an adult.
A person raised with no rules or disciple is nothing more then a spoiled self gratifying brat destended to be very unhappy at some point in their lives.
When Jesus went out into the world one of the first things he did was choose 12 men whom he could spend three to four years educating before he allowed them to represent him.He understood that what he taught these men would be what would be brought to the world after he was gone so getting it right was key.
A church should be viewed as a family it has a parent,the clergy,and the children,the members, each in different stages of growth.It is the church and clergy's responsibility as good parents to raise its children to be worth wild individuals who they can proudly send out.
Now I know not all churches are run by good fathers or ministers,some are run for the benefit of the clergy but that is why Jesus said that we have to discern the wolves who come in order to prey on the sheep.
True you can't take everything for face value but you are allowed to ask questions and become informed.
Jesus liked questions he not only answered them he asked and encouraged them.
He wanted people to be sure in their minds and hearts that he was the chosen one and no question was off the mark,even the ones he knew were inspired by the devil.
When curiosity is satisfied then loyalty will step in and that is a good thing.
The bible can be interpreted in many different ways depending how you read and translate it.The teachings are mostly pure but the difficulty comes when we have no guidance or direction.
A good priest or minister will give you these correct rules and will check with your direction making sure your on the right path,they will try to purely guide you to the correct teachings of God and Jesus.
In the bible is the story of an Ethiopian in a chariot reading the Old Testament.One of the disciples goes up to him and ask him what he is reading.He tells him about the stories but says I can not understand these things.So the disciple spends time with him teaching the interpretations and explaining to him about Jesus.
In my mind this is a story which shows us that the readings are all well and good but another person who understood the real teachings need to step forward in order to make it clear and answer the questions to help firm the foundation of faith.
God wants from us to understand that we do not live solitary we live in a society and are a social people interdependent on each other.
Church is our social starting point to get us to the rest of the world.If we are not clear in our teachings and foundations how will we be able to correctly pass on the true meaning of what we are commishioned to do for the needs of others?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Toeing The Line

The problem with most "religious people" is they tend to forget that those who are not yet saved,so to speak,are expected to toe the line as we feel they should,you know "follow the rules" and say "the right thing."
Most people who have not spent much time in a church situation think that religious people are just that "religious" and they feel no love or want from the so called Christians because these new people don't understand how to "toe the line".
Most new people to the faith are like little children who have not yet figured it all out but are being expected to act as if they have been touched by God and the church for many years.It's like giving a three year old a car and being shocked and angry because they don't know how to drive or take care of it.
Being new to something requires patience on the part of those who claim to have an understanding of the rules.
I heard a story today of a minister who went shopping with a very out growing Christian.When they entered the store the clerk was swearing up a blue storm.
The christian went to the clerk and said "have you been saved?" to which the clerk in full profanity said she had.
When the minister got to the counter the clerk once again began to swear and the minister leaned toward her and said "how can you say you are saved when your swearing like that?"
The clerk said "well I'm sure God swears every now and then."
The minister pointed her finger at the clerk and feeling she was defending God said "He most certainly does not."
the christian intervened and added "But God loves those who do."
The minister said it was at that point she realized she was trying to clean the fish before it was caught.
You know we're not better because we claim to have a life in Christ and as such we are required to be patient with those who are trying to be something they have no practice at but are trying.
This minister went on to say allot of us don't really want new people in our churches because it would require us to be uncomfortable around people we are not used to.
People who smell bad,curse,sin and all those other things which we Christians can not tolerate because we're so much better then the rest,or so we think.
You can't clean your fish before you catch them and you can not throw stones at those who disagree with us,especially when they have not had a real relationship with faith.
There is a song and one of the lines in the song says "before you throw a stone at someone you could save,remember it could have been me."
We need to understand that the whole world doesn't spin in our direction and we as Christians are called to be non judgemental because I'm told that how we judge others will be how we will be judged.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Payment for Service

When my son was little and brought home a good report card my father would give him money for every A and B he could attain.Now I didn't think much about this because it was a doting grandfather trying to encourage good grades and a special bond between him and his only grandchild.
Sunday at our church was a 40 day memorial service for someone who was deceased.His family had gathered together with our members and celebrated this mans' passing through liturgy and prayer.
After the service was finished 3 little children,who are not regular attendees,walked out of the church building and a parishioner asked his wife for three five dollar bills so he could give each child one for being good in church.
I got to wondering why this seemed so unsettling to me and am still not sure why this does not sit well.
True the children had been very well behaved and yes this was a generous offer on this gentlemen part but there is just something about paying a child for attending church and being good that just seems almost wrong.
As a child I can remember getting things from the nuns and priest when ever we did something special and were good but we never go things for attending or behaving at mass,It was just expected of you.
When my son and his friends were small the priest at the church would encourage them to participate in the mass it self.You might be asked to sing in the choir,be an alter boy or girl or just help out with doing and setting things up to help make the service that day special.
The children seemed to like this idea of helping and it made them more excited about being a part of the church and doing what was right for the pleasure of being proud of themselves for their good acts.
Money just seems so easy and to pay someone off for doing what is right just seems to not fit with the teachings of the church.
Maybe it would have sat better if the children were given religious picture cards or somethings more church like.
Dollars just seem so man made and unholy and are only a necessary need of the church to keep it running.In my mind,and I could be wrong,it almost seems like money is more important then just spending time with God and doing what is right.
I tend to think that a child would be just as happy to be patted on the shoulder and told what a good job he or she did and how proud you are of them for acting so grown up.
Does cash really have to be king even in church?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today some of the people from our church went to see the play "Fiddler On The Roof".
This as been a favorite play of mine since I was a teenager.To this day I still know every song word for word because I played the record so many times.
The main premise of the play is about a Jewish father during 1904 when the Russians were expanding their land and throwing the Jews out of villages because they were considered only tolerable at best.
Traditions at this time was very important.You married through arrangement,the father was the head of the house hold and you never married out of your religion.
The thing with traditions are they are all well and good until the real world creeps in and then decisions need to be made as to what can be kept and what can not.
If,like in this play,you are fortunate enough to be left alone then traditions can stay pure but as always at some point the world comes to your door step and then what?
Its change or fall by the wayside.
But how much do you change? can you bend or do you break? What is relevant and what is not?
In the play during a wedding scene the unthinkable happens and a man ask a woman to dance.One man jumps up and says "It is against the bible,a sin" the wedding guests ask the Rabbi who says "we'll it doesn't say its a sin."
In the Orthodox Church these things happen,people know tradition and think it is religious dogma but come to find out it is not.Just because you were taught something does not make it Gospel truth and just because you practice something does not make it dogma.Thinking something is the way it is only to find out you have been innocently misled can be scary.
A tradition is a wonderful thing it links our past to our present but not all things from the past are correct and not all the answers you have been taught are right.The one thing about the Jewish faith is that it encourages you to ask questions and even the Rabbis may answer a question with a question.
In the play when asked why Jews wear hats all the time the lead character says "I don't know why we just do,its a tradition."
Sometimes clearing up tradition with correct answers helps us to understand why it is important for us to do things traditionally or not.
For the American Orthodox Church A change may be in the air,we are a new breed and what stays with us as a cultural traditional and what leaves us are questions that need to be asked.How strong are we? Will we adapt and move forward or stand still and flounder?
Change and tradition are good when done for the right reason but like anything else to much change or to much tradition can put us on a collision course with something we may not be able to turn back from,the brink of extinction.
I don't know about you but after 2,000 years of faith,since the apostles,I would not want to be the one who derails what was handed down to us.
The fact is we must figure out what is God made and what is man made then walk the tight rope of both and try to keep our religion in balance.
We must face the present generation but not water down the religion striking a balance between new and old.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Children and Values

Today while watching the news they were talking about some little girls who belonged to a dance class and were dancing in two piece outfits.The dance was modeled after a 27 year old singers dance moves and I must say she had a more Conservative outfit on then these 5 and 7 year old children.
When asked what the little girls thought they said they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing and some of their parents agreed.
Now you can not expect little children to understand what is racy and what is not especially when this is what children see all around them daily.They just want to imitate and be like the grown ups.
Many people will say that this is the fault of the parents for not stepping forward and saying "no this is not tolerable" or "this is a small child and I will not exploit her in this way".
But you know you can not blame people for what they them selves as parents have not learned when they were also little.If you do not understand that something is not right how can you be expected to teach your children these things?
When I was growing up my parents were conservative,we attended church,had dress codes at school and watched innocent programs that helped instill values .
Now days none of these things exist.
For all our liberation we have become a very sex oriented society,so much so that when little girls dance like 27 year olds,we turn a blind eye to it and say its cute or they wear less clothes then that at the beach.
You know to me its not the outfit that bothers me its the strutting around like a pole dancer when your a 5 year old.
Children need to be children and even if you feel the play they are doing is innocent it is not,especially when its encouraged by adult,When a person becomes 14 or 16 the things they learn when they are 5 help mold their values and choices,it gives them directions when they encounter sexual situations.
I always hate it when girls think the only way they are valued is by how sexy and sleazy they look and act.Things like this put girls in the position of having babies when they are not ready and dealing with boyfriends who walk away leaving them in a train wreck situation.
Its important when our children are little,especially our girls,that we teach them they have minds and abilities and that having a great body and being appealing to men is not all there is to our lives.
Our children are our futures but we don't have much of a future if we don't teach them to use their potential and be more then an easy sex partner.

What Is Prayer ?

Recently at our Coffee House at St. Michael Hall we were treated to Christian Music and testimony by the band.
During some of the songs several people who were there felt the realism in the words and raised their hands to heaven or rocked back and forth and mouthed the words.
Being raised as a catholic and now being Orthodox I have come to understand that we all receive the word and praise in different fashions.
We as Orthodox tend to be some what reserved and calling out things like "Amen","Praise God" or raising our hands up to heaven can seem different and not clearly understood.
It has never bothered me when people do this and at times I wish I could be free enough to say and do these thing as I am moved.
Today I awoke rather early and not wanting to say the Jesus prayer thought I would try and do a decade of the rosary to which that did not last very long,I think after about 5 Hail Marys I quit.I have never been very good at doing this rosary thing it seems so repetitious and I lose concentration. When ever I start I hear a droning voice in my head and get this non feeling about what I am saying.Like spacing out in my mind.Besides I have always felt uncomfortable asking Mary to pray for me.I mean I have never asked Jesus to pray for me though I have asked for things through his name.
So back I went to the Jesus Prayer "Lord Jesus Christ Son Of God Have Mercy On Me A Sinner".I like this prayer its easy to say and I can concentrate on each word.
Of course the right way to do this prayer is to inhale as you say the first half of the prayer then exhale as you say the second half.Then make a small bow and if you are using a prayer rope or bracelet when you do either ten knots or all of them, then prostrate.This always confuses me as to which prostration to do since there are so many to choose from.
So basically I just say the prayers and cut out all the rest,if I don't then I spend more time worrying about the bowing and prostrating then I do about the prayers.(Once again to much thought and not enough action ).
Prayer is a very personal thing and I was told that the greatest compliment you can give some one is to pray for them,its the best form of caring because it is so personal that's why praying for your enemies is so important.
I know people who go on line to prayer groups and pray for all those in need.I had an Aunt who was a cloistered nun who spent her whole life in prayer.I guess I missed out on those genes.
For me prayer can be music,I love music and have several Cd's that are Christian based.Some very soft and sweet to hear and some very lively and spiritual.Playing these can be very up lifting and before I know it I can begin to feel the words being sung and to me these can be prayer moments.
I guess prayer can be found just about every where and it doesn't matter if its formal or simple if the spirit moves in you and you can acknowledge it then that is praise.

Monday, May 10, 2010

If You Can Use AnyThing Lord

"If you can use anything Lord you can use me,take my hands and my feet touch my heart Lord speak through me,if you can you use any thing Lord you can use me."
These are lines from a Christian hymn that I truly love and appreciate.
Sunday was the Gospel of a blind man.
When Jesus met him he made a paste of dirt and spit then rubbed it on the mans' eyes,he then told him to go to the river wash his eyes and sight would be given.
Fr.Peter says that this is the first time Jesus literally laid hands on some one and did something physical to bring about a healing .
The word Christian requires action some thing must be given with the hands.
St.Theresa has a prayer in which she says "Christ could not be here physically so instead he left you and me to be his hands and feet."
I have always felt that in order to touch another person and heal them we must first get out of our comfort zone and actually do something.
We are called to assist the sick,cloth the naked,feed the poor and destitute and just listen to each others injuries and whoas.
If you want to make a friend with someone be interested in what they have to say,even if at that moment your not.
I once read a book about a minister who decided in order to help his church grow he needed to take his people out in groups and find out what the neighbors in town needed and tried to meet their needs.
They repaired windows,painted houses and fences,spent time on Christmas Eve with those who had to work,did car washes and just plan tried to be good neighbors.
"Christ in action not just in words."
Now I know most people are tired and busy at the end of the day or week but if you can find something you love and share it with others you are assisting in a hands on way.
"More walk less talk",so to speak.
Most people do not realize that it doesn't take the big act but multiple little ones to bring peace to others.
Its easy to get upset and feel overwhelmed but when you help another person you can feel a sense of this is what its all suppose to be about.
If helping and giving were not God way then why would we feel so good each time we did something for some one else?
Helping others is God golden rule and in turn people may become loyal to you and your church and if nothing else they will get a true understanding of what a real true christian church and group is all about.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day Of Prayer

This morning after going to the hairdressers I went to the grocery store in Webster and bought three balloons,one red,one white and one blue.
I then went to three locations in my town and affixed a note to each balloon which said "Today is May 6th the national day of prayer and although a judge in WA. state says this is unconstitutional,I would like you to know that I prayed for not only our nation but also for you.Even if you do not have any religion or believe in a greater power.I just want you to know that you were thought of today and I prayed for you."
I got out of my car at each location prayed the our father,the Jesus prayer,and said a few words to God about our country,our family,our lives and those around the world who are in need of prayer and peace.
After a few moments of silent prayer I let a balloon go then traveled to my next destination.
To me it seemed very important to take some time and pray for our country and our world and although I know people who feel this day is not important I think any time we have an opportunity to show the secular world we believe what we preach then we need to grasp onto it.
We need to never throw these moments away and I firmly hope that at least one of my three notes will make it to someone in need.
Maybe this simple card will help someone through a moment of despair,disbelief or pain.
Maybe this will bring a smile to someones face or peace to their day.
God bless this country and all it stands for and God bless his people.May our leaders remeber the good of the people and not the good of their party affiliations.May we as a country be united for the good of each other and not just our selfish needs and desires..

Imigration And Rules

When my husband family came from Macedonia to Ellis Island in the 1930's they not only had to prove who they were but also that they would not be a burden on this country system.
They needed proof of where they were to live,job potential and a person to meet them and prove they had a representative living here who would vouche for them.
They did not simply walk off the boat into this country.
They were physically and mentally examined then questioned.They needed to prove they spoke some English and had some form of education.
If they were unhealthy or unstable they were put back on the boat and sent home.
Back then we had rules of who could come here and who could not.
Now we want all the rules to be skipped and if we try to enforce them we are called racist.
I know that any one who would try to go through a desert,cut across a boarder and climb over razor wire is in bad need of a better country. Lets face it if things were good they would not risk life and limb to come here.
I also understand that the states that have to absorb all these people are in need of help.How much can states that are in tough times be expected to endure.
You need to do what is right for your citizens before you do what is right for the rest of the world.
Most people feel that the illegals are entitled to be here as a matter of fact Boston's mayor and his representatives have now made it clear that they will not even ask for you to show you are legal in order to get welfare,rent assistance and medical aid.Even if you come here unable to work and have multiple medical conditions you will be treated like every one else who has put into the system and is a citizen.
Many people are against what Arizona is doing they say they are racist and unfair but how fair is it if you have come to this country legally,you have jumped through all the hoops,paid the lawyers and will now be looking at being at the end of the line for citizenship for doing the right thing.
Why does the Federal Government make laws and when a state chooses to enforce them they will not back the state in their decisions? The Feds made the laws to begin with.
Seems to me the people who are suppose to be representing us and looking out for us are more concerned about future voters then present ones.
To me illegal immigration is slave labor.It allows laborers to work for almost no money,gives them no rights or recourse and allows companies to pay below minimum wage,fire as they please and work people to death if they choose.
Some say that the jobs the illegals do are jobs no one else would do.With over 10 percent unemployment and people starting to fall off the unemployment system many people would work at just about anything to feed their family and keep their homes.
Some say that if we did not have illegals the price of food and services would sky rocket because they are cheap labor.To which I say "Legal Slavery".
Just because people are desperate and disadvantaged does not mean they should be taken advantage of to prosper our economy,which at present,is not doing so well anyways.
If all the illegals became legal then there would be no more cheap labor and businesses would be forced to pay a fair wage for a fair days work.
We need to make laws and stick with them.I'm sorry if you feel that being asked to show papers to prove you are legally here is racist but in my mind it is no different then when my husband and I went to Macedonia 5 years ago and were asked to show our passports.
I understood that I was in another person country,not my own,and as such needed to do what was asked because I was their guest and could be put on a plane and sent home or worse yet sent to prison if that is what my host chose to do.
Both illegal and legal immigrants are in this country because they are guest and need to understand that we have laws that need to be followed.If this is unfair and racist well I'm sorry but this is the price you pay to be in a democracy with majority rule.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The 4Th Of The Month

Being the wife of a landlord I have learned the importance of the first of the month,rent collection day,but now that I am with a retired person a new day crops up and that's the 4Th of the month.
Today I decided to get some mulch to put around my rose bush which I weeded and watered after we came home from Sunday Service.Now I know Sunday is a day of rest but since I took my shoes off and enjoyed sitting on the ground in the sunshine I figured this was not really work it was an excuse to be with brother sun.
Today I went off to my local Wal Mart store to get a bag of cedar mulch and check out all the flowers and out door patio sets.
I walked by the pharmacy to pick up some antihistamine,not only are the flowers in bloom but so are my allergies,and for some reason it seemed excessively crowded for a late Tuesday morning.
As I made my way over to my aisle of choice eyeing my find an elderly gentleman was talking very loudly to an employee about Ben gay and where he could locate it.The lady asked him several times if he wanted muscle rub to which he said "No Ben Gay" she then said "sir its right behind you" to which he thanked her and went on his way.
Once at my car I noticed there seemed to be a lot of grey haired people around me then I saw it the "elder bus" and realized "It Was The 4Th Of The Month".The day after the 3rd which is direct deposit day for all those of the retirement set.
I hurriedly got into my car,went home,put the mulch around my rose bush then proceeded upstairs to my husbands office and said "I am greatly disappointed in you"to which he said "what are you talking about?" I went on to tell him that this is the 4Th day of the month and he did not do his retired duty of going to Wal Marts and buying something.
He said "I have not even gone on line to check to see if the money was deposited into my account yet." I then explained that he could not use that as an excuse.
He said "Do you have a prescription you need filled cause I'll go right out and do that for you?"
No I said I do not but you at least need to go to the store and walk by the pharmacy just to make it look good.
Husbands you just have to tell them every thing.
Now to put my purchases away.There's that apricreme rub I knew I bought some....What...Well some one in this house as to up hold Senior standards...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pay Attention

Most Sundays that I attend service I never expect to really get much out of it and am always pleasantly surprised at the things that will jump out at me even when I think I'm not really paying attention.
Well today was no different.
It seems most of the first part of the service was spent with me trying to clear my mind and listen to what was being said.All the disturbances and noise had thoughts swirling through my head when suddenly John started to read the Gosple and said:
That in the days of the Old Testiment when scrafices were offered for sin the blood was taken out side of the temple to be burned because it was a sin offering and not pure.
Suddenly I remembered reading about that from the laws of Moses.
Then John went on to read that Jesus was crucified out side the temple away from the gates because Jesus took on our sins of man,like the lamb,and his blood had to be away from the temple because it was considered blood of sin.
Of course I'm paraphrasing here but you get the idea.
Funny this seemed like,as Fr.Peter would say,a light bulb aahah moment.
At that point this seemed very important to me and suddenly I saw the connection between these two events and said to myself "how does one not believe here it is all laid out."
I never know what will suddenly strick me as a truth moment and why this just seemed so important to me.I'm not sure but when it jumps out its hard to ignore.
For what ever reason this needed to be made known to me and hopefully I will figure it out.Maybe its just God way of saying "see now pay attention" or maybe not....

What You See,What You Hear

Back in the days of the Old Testament when the Jewish people were migrating,they always build their temples higher then the rest of the land mass they were occupying.
They would position the openings of their tents in the direction of the temple so that every morning the first thing they saw as they opened their tent flap to start their day was the house of God.
It was no mistake that they did this.If the first thing you see in the great light of a new day is the Temple of God then you understand what your life is suppose to revolve around.
We in this country seem to not understand this with rampant pornography on the computer and bad actions and language on t.v. we are so accustomed to starting our day with evil rather then good,that we don't even notice it.
How much of what you watch on t.v is in any way good for? The news is violent and one sided,no matter which station you watch,the commercials are sexist and sometimes sleazy and even the entertainment is demoralizing and disrespectful.
Our children play violent video games and watch movies,even cartoons,that are full of parental disrespect and unchild like talk and opinions.
Now I'm no saint myself and many are the days where I am around things that are far from pure,mostly because of my own choice.But I try always to start my morning with prayer for myself, my family and friends.
On days I work and am in my car,I put on a tape of the New Testament and try not to listen to any music or talk after the chapter is done,I'm hoping that in so doing some of what I just heard will absorb into my present conscious and filter through out my up coming day.
Believe it or not what we see,hear or read when we first get up has an impact on us through out our day.Our subconscious is a wondrous thing and in order for us to run smoothly we need to start our day with a knowledge that we are neither alone nor helpless.
I once talked to some one who told me every day before she put her feet on the floor she simply says "This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice in it and feel glad."
I don't know about you but to me this seems like a much better way to start my day then by having the local news station tell me what the latest death count is this morning in New Haven.