Monday, April 25, 2011

A Walk

This morning seemed to start out as a rather dreary day.
Not much brightness in the world I must admit.
As I decided what was to be my day,the idea of taking a walk seemed very nice indeed.
I pulled out my Ipod,put on my head phones,started some of my John Michael Talbert music and as if by magic,the gloom of the morning slowly lifted being replaced by a bright internal sunshine.
The birds gently gliding in the sky seemed,like myself,to be in need of some wing space and their songs proved to the world around that beauty is in the eye,or ear of the beholder.
Life every where about me as if encircled by the lovely promise of spring.
Trees showing their buds and tiny purple flowers their blooms,all calling out for sunshine,unbeknown to them,their own floral loveliness was greeting my heart and soul with great radiance.
The raging river running through the nearby park,roared with mightiness as the very banks themselves tried,with all their might,to contain and keep in check,the forceful liquids escape,as if the hand of God was cupping the tirade,providing safety to all the nearby creatures scurrying to do their appointed daily chores.
Chipmunks and squirrels happy for the warm,yet misty weather ran back and forth between the rocks and up and down the near by trees.
With nature all around showing it self my walk seemed to take no time at all,giving me a chance to ponder a belief,I once heard.
In the old days it was said by religious communities that to breath in was to allow the spirit and goodness of God himself into you very being,while exhaling gave man an opportunity to dispel all his evil,corrupt worldliness.
Every breath inhaled was a chance to cleanse ones body,mind and soul by taking in the purity around him and the expelled breaths was a chance to rid ones self of ungodly,impure life thoughts and excesses.
Spring is in the air,God is in the air and you are able to see a new blooming in your self,even if its only by inhaling the world around you.
Christ is risen..indeed he has...and nature is his proof...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today He Hung On The Cross

Today is Good Friday,the day Jesus willingly went to the cross to save us from death.
Today Jesus,the great King of all,allowed himself to be humiliated,abused and killed in a most horrible fashion for our sake,unworthy though we may be.
Today the almighty,raised up like Moses staff,was suspended between the heavens and the earth hovering has the Holy Spirit did,above the waters on that great day of creation.
With his arms outstretched encompassing all his creation,in his loving embrace even has his very mortal life slipped away from him,one moment at a time.
How unworthy and ungrateful are we,as this new Adam took on our wrongs and was crucified between two thieves,but even in his agony repeatedly asking his father forgiveness for us because of our ignorance.
How do we thank someone for giving up his life,for the undeserving,who even today say "there is no God".
A creator who loved his creation so much that even his last agonizing breath was not enough,if he could have given more he freely would have.
Today is a day to be grateful,because of his love we need never fear the agony of the tomb,he waits for us with this arms ever opened to come home to him.
All he ask from us in return is love and forgiveness.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Am

When I was a child I remember watching the movie "Moses" with Charlton Heston.
When Moses goes up to the mountain and the burning bush speaks to him,Moses says who are you? God replies "I am the God of Abraham,the God Of Jacob and the God of Issac." "I am who that I am".
When God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh and free his people,Moses says "Who shall I say sent me?" and God replied "Tell them I Am,sent you."
I have always wondered,what exactly did God mean when he said this?
Who or what is I am,there has to be more to this statement?
Did he mean I Am the one true God,The God of the Prophets,maybe the only God?
But I already knew that,there just had to be more to those two simple words.
The other afternoon I happened upon the Oprah show and she had a man on who wrote a documentary,called I Am, about his struggle from what the world considers a successful materialistic life style to an understanding,by free choice,of how living with out the excess means entering a more richly spiritual reality or true life.
Coming to the realization that success is not always what we have been taught.
Has they showed parts to his documentary,it suddenly struck me what God meant when he said I Am,he meant "I Am Everything" including you.
I am not just a Deity I am life it self.
I am the animals,the trees,the grass,and the very air you breath,the life around you and in you.
Everything that you see,hear,touch or taste,more things then you can even understand or imagine... I Am everything.
I am you,everyone and everything.
Together we are interdependent because God is all encompassing and everywhere we are so is he.
I Am intertconnected with you...and you are because of me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Did You Know On The Day Of Atonement:

Did you know that: the curtain in the Temple,that ripped at Jesus death was 8 feet in thickness and took many,many men and horses to put into place.
During the Jewish day of atonement the priest would go behind the curtain,bath,dress in linen and attach a rope around his leg in case he died,he could be pulled out.
The first thing to be sacrificed on this day was a bull,which was scarified for the sins of the priest and the priesthood.
Next two goats would be brought in,the priest would draw lots to see which one would be sacrificed for the sins of the people and which would have the sins of the people placed on it by the prayers of the priest.
The second goat would then be released into the wilderness never to be touched or killed by any person in the community.
The goat that was released was called the scape goat.
The goat that was sacrificed would have his blood spread on the judgement seat,on the top of the arc of the convenient.
When Jesus was on the cross lots were drawn for his garments,he became the sacrificed lamb for our sins and the scape goat thus making him what the two goats represented on the day of atonement.

Maria Talks

Are you a resident of the state of Massachusetts?
Do you have a teen aged daughter 18 years old or younger?
Do you know there is a web site in your state called "maria"?
Do you know what kind of a website this is?
How do you,has a parent,feel about a web site funded by your state telling girls 18 years or younger,how to get an abortion?
Insinuating you can by pass a judge and your parents and easily get the abortion you need by allowing them to send you to the proper web site?
Are you to afraid to tell your parents? we can help.
Are you to afraid to go before a judge? we can help.
This site tells teens it is set up to answer the questions you have about birth control and STDs,that they casually make it more comfortable for teens to get answers
and explain abortions as a simple,painless procedure which many girls have had done.
They lead girls to believe it is not life altering or dangerous in any way.
High Schools hang these posters up in the Nurse Offices because they,the school officials, believe that if it is endorsed by DPH (dept. of health) it is innocent and relevant.
Since the posters make no mention of abortion on them,the schools don't know the full extent of this web site.
The "Maria talks" site,funded by the state of Massachusetts,will lead you the questioner,to planned parenthood,which states in their defense they do not us tax payers money to fund abortions.
Now I don't know where you stand on abortion but I for one feel if someone is 18 years or younger their parents need to know what is going on,even those few parents who are irresponsible still have rights.
The abortion part is bad enough but why are we encouraging young people to avoid their mistakes?
Is it good to teach children that going behind your parents back is acceptable behavior,rather then facing the music.
We all make mistakes but you can't solve a problem by running away and hiding from it.
Children need to be taught honesty and how to face the issues at hand for the actions they did.
Two wrong do not make right.

Fallen Nature

During Holy Week,we are made to center on our short falls and how we,by design,never seem to get it right.
It doesn't seem to matter if we're apostles,harlots,friends or religious leaders we all seem to be in the same hole as far as these first three days of Mantins go.
We are introduced to tricky Pharisees who try to catch Jesus in his own words,Ten Virgins,5 of whom don't have enough oil or vigilance,Judas,a follower, who plans the sale of Jesus life and the sinful woman who washes Jesus feet with her tears then dries them with her hair.
What do all these people have in common?
Everyone made a choice some chose forgiveness and repentance and others did not.
We are all fallen by nature and to finger point and make little of another person is not only wrong,its human.
The importance of having Jesus in our lives is the understanding that he loves and forgives us if we just ask.
We are always ignorant to our selves and others,in a need of feeling important or superior,always choosing to belittle another for their short falls.
When the harlot came into the house of the Pharisee she was shown as truly repentant,even to the point of not caring what those around thought.
Her head was uncovered,the sign in the Jewish world that she was probably a prostitute and far from pure.
A woman,entering a mans house alone,unheard of in her day and taking the position of sitting on the floor,washing a man,who was not your husband,feet with not water but her tears,then drying them with her hair,not in a sexual or provocative way but in a repent loving fashion.
For the gratitude of Jesus forgiveness,she fearlessly walked into a Religious Leaders house,where all could mock and berate her,to give this man,this son of God the greatest amount of gratitude she could think of,her simple,loving, caring service.
She who at that moment was the least in the eyes of the great men around her became the greatest in the eyes of Jesus.
We,all human by nature,are all fallen,easily tempted and just about always ready to follow our physical wants and desires,not our spiritual ones.
The 5 wise virgins,with their filled lamps teach us that our spirituality,as long as we are alive,is always a work in progress.We can never say we are good enough or holy enough because if we do we have just sinned by pride,just as the Pharisee did.
Everyday is a spiritual battle,just when you think you've won you turn around and do or say something stupid.
The only perfect person who walked this earth died,rose and ascended over two thousand years ago.
God does not expect us to be perfect and we were not created to be so,but we were made to do the hardest thing of all and that is to ask for forgiveness and truly mean it.
I often wonder what would have happened to Judas if instead of hanging him self he would have stayed around.
I know if he truly was sorry for what he did he would have been forgiven and maybe even remembered has a great saint.
Easy for me to say because I know the rest of the story,but poor Judas did not.
I guess that's where faith comes in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Bridegroom Comes:But Are You Ready?

Monday night during the Bridegroom Matins several Gospels were read which directed not only the attention of the people of the church but also that of the clergy to the errors of our sins.
First was the story of the virgins with their oil lamps waiting for the coming of the Bridegroom.
While awaiting his arrival they fell asleep (the symbol of death) and when the bridegroom was nearing they awoke,but only half had the right amount of oil with them,while the other half did not.
Out of excitement those who had no oil asked those who did,for some of theirs,but those who had extra had only enough for themselves and could give none away.
The virgins,who had no oil ran off to buy more,but when they returned the doors to the great hall were shut and they were sent away.
This tells us that we,has God children,need to always be ready for the coming of the Bridegroom,or Judgement Day.
Our souls need to be pure as the virgins so we will be let into the wedding hall.
In the Temple while Jesus was teaching the people,a religious leader comes to him and questions his beliefs.
Jesus,knowing this leader was not being honest with him,ultimately tells this man that the religious leaders of his day have become corrupt and misleading.
He talks of white washed tombs,beautiful on the outside,but holding dead men's rotting bones inside.
Basically he tells them that when they glorify themselves by having the best seats at the parties,finest cuts of meat at banquets they are not being humble,they have gained their rewards here on earth and will have none in heaven.
He also warns them about laying heavy burdens and laws on men's shoulders but not being willing to assist them,even with one finger,to bear the loads placed on them.
They have made man serve the laws,instead of the laws serving man.
Thus setting man up to fail in their struggles to get nearer to God.
Lastly he talks about false prayers,standing in the middle of the Temple proclaiming their prayers and holiness to God so all can see them has pure on the outside,but not clean on the inside.
To add to that he speaks about them teaching new students these laws and beliefs and making these novices more ready for hell then themselves.
What these leaders are teaching are their sinful ways to those who are new thus making them more ready for hell,related to their corrupting of the innocent by false beliefs,so they never know the truth.
Jesus tells us we are all sinners and need to make amends,trying to lead better more Christian lives.
Even those who followed Jesus wronged him,Peter denied him and Judas betrayed him proving no one is perfect we all live in a fallen world with Satan always trying to trip us up,Even those closest to God may fall due to our nature.
As the bridegroom comes we need to understand that once we are fallen asleep,dead, it will be to late to increase our Holy Oil, or spiritual goodness.
We need to honestly push forward daily in our struggles,never relaxing on what we perceive has our excess holiness because the thief comes in the night and once he comes we will be lost to make adjustments.
In the end the laws and rules of the church are important,but following them in an honest and pure spirit always remembering we are sinners in need of forgiveness,loving our fellow men and God,is what we need to strive for until our last breath,then all bets are off.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Adjustment

Recently my husband and I went to see the movie "The Adjustment".
In the story a man who is very loved as a new up and coming politician meets a dancer with a future of her own.
Together they end up falling in love with each other.
But fate was late in stepping in to break them up and their future is now confused.
According to the story there is always "others" in another realm working for the "chief" whose job it is to push fate in and out of our lives to keep us going on a path which we are to follow.
And although free will is always there some gentle nudging in certain directions often occurs,helping us stay on a path.
The politician in this story gets to meet some of these adjusters and is made to understand why his fate is not to have a satisfying relationship with this girl,if neither feels this fulfillment of love they will both push themselves to be greater in their chosen fields and talents in order to fill the void.
He will become president and she a world renowned dancer.
Being Orthodox I am not allowed to believe in predestination,which by the way I never believed in anyways,but I must tell you I do believe in gentle nudges or pushes to help me keep in the right direction.
Did you ever stop to wonder why the things you think you want in life just don't seem to work out?
You miss an important meeting,your to late to sign up for a class you think you must take,you miss a train or plane and have to take a later one,you drop coffee on you good clothes,start off down the road and feel you have to go back to check on the iron you think you might have left plugged in,how about being stuck in traffic?
I can tell you there are days when I'm at work that I may be down one end of the hall and see something that is potentially bad for a patient on the opposite end and has I rush to get to the situation people walk in front of me,a laundry cart may be crossing my path and it seems to take forever for me to make it as if something is keeping from getting there as fast as I need to.
I believe we all have free will but with it we also have guidance,events happen in ways to stop us until we are ready for them to either happen or not happen.
I remember reading a book written by a man whose father was a Rabbi and his whole family were all very orthodox Jews.
He had decided he wanted very much to get married and since he had no luck in the town he was in he decided to move south for awhile and see if he could meet a nice Jewish woman there.
While in this town he began to question his orthodoxy and wondered what it would be like to be a Christian.
With no luck in sight of finding the wife he longed for,he moved back to his old neighborhood and within several months he met the woman of his dreams, who,by the way,had grown in a family with a father who was a baptist minister and she converted from Christianity to Orthodox Judaism.
Long story short he married her and she in turn helped him to spend one year trying to live a lifestyle of a Christian in order to understand what he thought he was missing by being raised a Jew.
Although he never became a Christian he did get a stronger understanding of his own faith and desire to remain a more practicing Jew.
So what does this all mean? Well God watches out for us,He cares for us and we have the angles and Holy Spirit helping us by gentle nudges,making us be better then we could be alone.
The adjuster,or guardians in our lives help try to keep us on the road and out of the ditch with gentle nudges and reminders.
God is ever present,we are ever guided and protected and although we have free will we also have boundaries.
There is more to our lives then just us and we are interdependent on the lives of each other.
Just because we don't see the big picture doesn't mean that there is no big picture.

What Is Value/What Is Worth?

This week is my vacation and with Holy Week at hand,I decided to sleep in til at least nine.
Well at 7:15am the phone rang,thinking it must be work asking me where I am? I ran downstairs to pick it up and tell them my well rehearsed answer of "Why are you calling me,its my day off and no thank you I do not want to come to work today."
But instead of being my place of employment,it was one of my husband's tenants calling to say that the apartment my son had been storing his things in had been broken into.
Vic and I went to the apartment to find,to our relief,that only some windows had been smashed by stones and nothing had been touched.
Has I drove back home I began to think of all the things that ran through my mind,upon receiving that early morning phone call.
The first and foremost was "is there anything valuable in the apartment that could have been taken and if so what could it have been?"
All that came to mind was an old TV that belonged to my parents.
OK safe enough.
Stopping at a local convince store to get a coffee,my thoughts filled with "But what is valuable anyways?"
To me there seems to be two types of valuable.
One is monetary,how much is an item worth? Its financial dollars and cents.
A TV or computer may have money value if its new but not so much if its older and if someone were to steal it would it be worth the effort to even remove it?
What about metal,coins,gold or copper do any items have or are made of these compounds,if stolen could they be melted down and a price be placed on them by the ounce or pound.
The next value seems to come from that of sentiment,not worth much in dollars but highly valued in the heart and mind,A part of your own personal being.
If stolen probably worth more to you then any TV or computer could ever be,irreplaceable to only you due to its sentiments.
Emotionally priceless.
What about the one willing to do the stealing,what would drive someone to take that which is not theirs?
Is this person,possibly an addict,in such bad need of drugs that even a few dollars could help pay for part of a gram or joint,something to get them through this day,hour or moment,a lost soul with an uncontrollable demon in his mind and nervous system.
How much desperation would a person have to be in to steal from another and possibly get caught and imprisoned for their action?
Like selling you freedom.
Could this person be some one who enjoys the excitement of stealing,are they lazy and stealing is easier then holding down a job or how about something done out of a dare,possibly an act of desperation to pay a gambling debt,buy food,or stay in their domicile?
In our situation only a few broken windows,probably school children trying to liven up an other wise dull walk to school.
Much to think about for this Holy Week,A time when Jesus himself faced being robed of his life by people in desperate situations of greed,lust and hatred.
Several where afraid they'd lose their powerful religious positions,one feared loss of an newly acquired,influential governmental post and one just needed some coins of value for the price of a life,which had not lived up to the expectations of a follower and close friend.
You know there is always two sides to every theft that of the victim and that of the perpetrator.
It doesn't make things right or wrong,never clear in ones mind,especially in times of seemed desperation,but each side having its own sense of value and worth,that can be gained or lost in money or power.
Always there are those who have lost and those who have gained.
But in the end a price to be paid and the cost tremendous to everyone involved,both for the innocent and the guilty alike.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Coffers

Belonging to the Orthodox church is allot like the Catholic Church,we do not tithe so stewardship,donations and fund raisers are our ways to help keep the coffers full and stave off the wolves from our door.
The problem with these events is it can distract us,both mentally and physically, from the time we could be donating and assisting our community.
Money is a good thing when gotten to pay the bills but being a church we have to walk the balancing rope of spending to much time worrying about money and not enough time worrying about worship.
Sometimes these things can blend and fund raising can seem almost has important as time spent with God.
This is not a new issue,in the New Testament Jesus goes into the temple and over turns the tables of the money changers,to show that this building is a house of God and not a bank.
We always have to remember that the main reason we have a church is for worship and even if the doors were to close,due to lack of money,we has the people of the church can praise God in the parking lot,he doesn't care.
Money is paper and coin and will gain us nothing in the end.
All things are dust and what has a beginning also has an end.
No one wants to see their church in financial straights,but if the fund raising becomes more respected then the prayer in the church then an issue has arisen and we need to rethink our priorities.
Render onto Caesar that which is Caesar and onto God that which is God.
Believe it or not he comes first,for with out him what difference does it make if we have a church or not,if he is not with us then all we own is a beautiful structure,man made not God made.

Mrs. Noah

In the Bible,the book of Genesis,tells the story of Noah,but did you ever wonder who his wife was? For whatever reason she,like many women in Genesis,are not mentioned by name.
This seems rather sad since she must have been a very special woman
Here we have Noah working day and night to build this ark that the Lord called him to construct for an up coming flood,which must have been difficult for him to comprehend since he had never even seen rain,let alone a boat.
Being ridiculed and scorned by friends and neighbors,while poor Mrs.Noah was not only standing by her man,but raising three sons,whose names by the way,did make the Bible,and running the day to day household operations so Noah could do God work.
Not only did she have to be strong before the flood,but just imagine what it was like living on a boat with all those animals and sons and their wives,talk about to many cooks in the kitchen,I hope patience was her virtue.
Living in this large enclosed floating zoo,the smell must have been horrible not to mention the amount of work it must have taken to clean and feed all those animals and family members alike.
To say Mrs.Noah did not have the strength of Atlas him self,both physically and mentally,would have been an understatement and a disservice to her.
This must have been a woman of great planning and ingenuity,not to mention a sense of humor.
I'm sure not many women could have put up with all that nonsense,before,during or after the flood the way she did.
I don't know what her name was but she should have gotten,at least, honorable mention just for being able to step off that boat,after all those days adrift,with out having a nervous break down.
How happy she must have been when after more then forty days,the gang plank went down and all those animals walked off the ark,headed for green pastures far,far away from her.
For once it must have been a pleasure to see their backsides.
The thought of spending some time alone,soaking in a hot tub,getting the animal smells off her, must have filled her emotions with gladness.
Here's to you Mrs. Noah you are a model of efficiency and don't feel bad that the boys got all the acclaim in the Bible,because we know who the real back bone of the crew was,you and the daughter in laws.
Maybe your name wasn't mentioned because one name would not have been enough to describe a woman with such fortitude and talents.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Written On Monuments/Written On Lives

Some peoples names are written on monuments but yours could be written on peoples lives...The Salvation Army...

How do you want to be remembered?
Is it important to you to have your name written on a wall,monument,building maybe a church pew?
Is this how you wish to be in the minds of those who see what is written in print?
Some people with great wealth build great building to themselves.
libraries,hospitals,schools even churches.
All great and useful things but in the end who is this a monument to,you or God?
This week I read of the Tower Of Babel.
This is a story from the Old Testament which talks about the people who grew from Noah's lineage many years after the flood.
The members of this group believed that since they were alike they should build a great tower that would rise high in the sky with man made materials of brick and asphalt.
God and the rest of the Trinity,walked among the people and decided this was not good,so they caused all the people of Babel to have their language confused and sent them in different directions,forming the continents,in the end teaching them that true unity requires God presence.
We can erect great things to ourselves or we can work in unison with God on the lives of those we assist in times of want or need.
Back in the time of the Roman Empire, people who went to gladiator games inscribed their names into the marble seats they paid for,so all would know this belonged to them.
Now thousands of years later the seats still bear the names of the owners but no one has any idea who these people were,they are just Roman letters set on a marble seats,next to other empty seats.
I'll bet you can name me multiple people of action whose pictures no longer exist but whose deeds come to mind instantly when their names are mentioned.
Does it surprise you that a name is a name but an action speaks louder then words?
Why should these "no nothing do gooders" be remembered,while those with money and power are now just a group of letters left on marble.
God wants us to continue the work he started,we are his physical body and when we do good we rise above a mere physical monument to our selves.
We are inscribed into the life of another person and into their future generations.
If Mother Theresa had lived two hundred years ago she would still be remembered for the acts of kindness she did,granted we may not,in this country anyways,have heard of her,but all the people who lived in India where she brought her goodness,would have passed her name on to today's generation.
This is the inscription and the lineage God calls us to leave.
Names on a plaques are just that,simply names,meaning little to anyone.
Only letters too be forgotten at some point in the distant future.
If you wish to be remembered take the time to put your name on peoples lives and hearts then you will be unforgettable,maybe even for generations.