Τρίτη 27 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

Evangelism Across Boundaries: A Welcoming Heart

Desert Fathers Dispatch (African Americans)

(...) It is not unusual for people of all walks of life to feel that doors are constantly closing in their faces. This applies not only to issues of race, but also political ideals, economic status, educational level as well.  Even when the things that separate us are minor, our differences can be elevated by social media and 24-hour “news” outlets on television, radio, the internet, and print.  It is almost impossible for any of us to harbor strong opinions on any topic.  In every part of the country, Christian denominations are made up of people who are alike in every way from the square footage of their homes to the sports teams they follow.

Being a part of an ethnic group gives us a feeling of belonging and a sense of pride. Greek festivals, Black History Month, July 4th all help to solidify our identity.
Yet, as Orthodox Christians, we are called to see ourselves and each other as part of the kingdom of God and as images created in His image and likeness.  Politics are not to restrict how much we love each other. The color of skin and the amount of “green” in our wallets must not determine who is not our brother and sister. Fashion styles, tattoos, taste in food and music are also to be rendered as insignificant in light of the One who loved the world so much that gave His Only begotten Son that we may have eternal life (John 3:16).  
The Church is uniquely blessed to be this welcoming force in a world of separations.
The God we worship is three distinctive persons who share the same nature. The Son is begotten and the Spirit proceeds from the Father.  Yet the source of their divinity doesn’t rule over them. Instead, they occupy His right hand, a position of equality and shared dominion. Our theology can be compared to a tripod.  The three legs work in concert together. To deny the validity of one or two of them in favor of the other(s) is as much of a spiritual failure as removing a leg or two from a tripod. Monopods are useful. But, they do not stand on their own.

It is not hard for us to come to the Divine Liturgy with a love for God and those whom we are close to similar with. But, the challenge for us is to reach out to the visitors and the brothers and sisters whom we are different and distant from with His love.  The purpose of this evangelism is not to have an affirmative action policy or form a bi-partisan coalition.  Our goal as Christians is not simply to “go to heaven and live with Jesus forever.”  We are to seek complete and total union with the One who is Three.  He is complete in relationship lacking nothing.  Likewise,  as individual Christians and the Church as a whole, we must seek this bond with those whom worldly standards would say we are separate from.  Not that such differences do not exist.  But, we are called to transcend these things which divide people.  Failure to extend our love for others based on our shared nature and example of the Trinity is to remove one or two legs from a tripod.
Which brings us back to the question asked of Fr. Moses. How do we evangelize to African-Americans and others who have been traditionally isolated from the Orthodox Church?  The Brotherhood of St. Moses directly approaches the topics of the role of the African Saints in Orthodox life and has speakers who address racial issues in modern society.  FOCUS North America does not intentionally seek evangelization of any particular race.  But, poor people of all backgrounds have come to the Church because of the compassionate work of the organization.  Any parish can develop a program and strategy to bring in people of diverse backgrounds.

Ultimately, to be welcoming to people of different backgrounds is to be willing to follow the voice of the Lord. Philip had no particular idea of when Ethiopians came to Jerusalem to worship, what scriptures they had questions about, or if an official would welcome a stranger for conversation.  But he followed the Holy Spirit, ran (yes, evangelism does take effort) to the caravan, listened to where the man was spiritually, and the ranking official let this man whom he never met before hitch a ride and talk.  We don’t know how or when we will come across a stranger who is beyond our comfort zone.  As the Spirit calls us, we must be willing to go out and meet them, listen to where they are, and engage with them.

See also

Ferguson, MO vs. Malcolm X: Are We Chasing Our Tails? - It is time for us all to come home...
The Least of These
The Desert Fathers: A Sad Omission of the Black Church - A Beacon for Evangelism

Native American Pathways to Orthodoxy
The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place  

Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black
St Mary of Egypt, a multi-cultural orthodox community in Kansas City
St Nicholas of Japan, a multi-ethnic orthodox parish in Johannesburg

"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
«African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God...»

The Holy Martyrs Julian, Eunos, Beza & Mekaros of Alexandria

Alexandria (image from here)
Lives of the Saints / Orthodox Church in America
The Holy Martyrs Julian, Eunos [Kronion] his servant, Beza [Bisos] the soldier and Mekaros suffered at the beginning of the reign of Decius (249-251) at Alexandria. Saint Julian, a very old man, suffered from gout and could neither stand nor get about. He was carried to the trial by his servants, one of whom, (Eunos) bravely confessed his faith in Christ, even though a second servant recanted.
They took Julian and Eunos through the city on camels, subjecting them to the jeering of pagans, and finally burned them in a fire. The soldier Saint Beza also suffered with them. Because he tried to defend the holy martyrs from insult, he was beheaded by the sword. Mekaros of Lebanon was also burned. 

Hymn to the African Saints

Δευτέρα 26 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

St. Simon of Cyrene & Black History Month (February 27th: St. Simon’s Day)

"As places of worship gather this month to celebrate Black History Month, the norm among many Ecclesial Organizations has been to set apart the time to celebrate the lives of African American engineers, inventors, community leaders and the like that helped shaped our nation. Sadly, many African Americans, West Indians, Carribeans, and Afro Latinos have not experienced the witness of the African witness of the undivided Church.
February 27th is the Feast Day of one of the most commercially known African Saints, St Simon of Cyrene. Our mission parish will be celebrating our patronal feast this feast this evening at Great Vespers. This will be the very time this feast will be celebrated on the Liturgical Calendar. Join us this evening as we not only honor this blessed saint but also continue to uncover the witness of African Saints, Martyrs, and Passion Bearers of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."

St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission

St. Simon’s Day: Calendar & Common Ground

The Modern Monastic Order Of Saint Simon of Cyrene

When I launched the idea and gave an explanation of why African-Americans and Orthodox Christians should celebrate the feast day of St. Simon of Cyrene, a couple of criticisms came up from within the church.  One criticism is a reasonable issue.  In most calendars of the saints we honor, this saint is not found.  Indeed, there is a question of whether or not he was canonized in the first place.
Deacon Samuel Davis who leads the St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission Parish in New Brunswick, NJ pointed me out to Hieromonk Herman Majkrzak of the St. Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, PA who confirmed the date and canonization of the saint:
Dear John,
God bless you!
I found this information in the Ormylia Synaxarion compiled by Hieromonk Makarius of Simons Petras, which is the most well-researched Orthodox collection of saints’ lives that I know of. In this collection he is assigned to Feb. 27th, with a footnote that says:
“This commemoration is found only in the Lectionary Paris BN gr. 282 (9th cent.).”  (Vol. 3, p. 630)
As this is a saint with almost no history of veneration in the Orthodox Church – no service in the Menaion, no date on most calendars, and no life in the Synaxarion – there is very little information to go on.
I wish I could be more helpful!
In Christ,
Hieromonk Herman
Even though he is rarely honored, St. Simon of Cyrene does have a feast day.
This is not to say that the Orthodox Church has relegates African saints to a “file 13.”  On the contrary, one can visiit any website of any jurisdiction and find where several saints from the continent are honored with feast days.  Looking at my Antiochian calendar, Anthony the Great is celebrated on January 17th, Athanasius the Great on the 18th, Macarius the Great on the 19th, Mary of Egypt is honored on April 1st and  the Fifth Sunday of the very important Great Lenten Fast, Pachomius the Great on May 15th, and  Pimen (Poemen the Shepherd) the Great is on August 27th.  In addition to these great ones, there are many more well and lesser known heroic men and women of the faith listed in our records of the saints.
Many of the other great saints of Orthodoxy acknowledge their debt to the Desert Fathers in their quest for spiritual growth.  Saints Basil the Great and John Cassian spent time among them.  Saints Ignatius Brianchaninov and Theophan the Recluse referred to them in their writings.  The very influential Hieromonk Seraphim Rose taught; “You read the words of St. Macarius who lived in the deserts of Egypt in the fourth century, and he’s speaking to you now. …” [Hieromonk Damascene, Father Seraphim Rose:  His Life and Works,  St. Herman of Alaska Press, Platina CA, pg. 471]. Everyone can find a variety of saints of any race and part of the world to honor.

Holy icon "The Road to Calvary" (in Greek "Helkomenos"), orthodox church of St George in the village of Melissourgaki (Mylopotamos district, Rethymno, Greece)

So, why St. Simon of Cyrene?  Why shouldn’t we highlight some other better known saint to help evangelize and find common ground with African-Americans?  During my last year serving as the pastor of a black Baptist congregation, I did my best to expose my congregation to the African saints.  I brought in icons, introduced prayers, I even wrote a skit where a young man meets some of these great men and women in a dream.  The congregation acted it out as part of our Black History Month program.  But after February, no one wanted to hear me speak of these saints (or anything else about Orthodoxy) because they didn’t see them in the Bible.  African-American Christians are overwhelmingly Protestant and firmly believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura, scripture alone.  The Lives of the Saints, Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Menaions, Synaxarions; none of these mean anything to a people who believe that the Bible is the “Word of God.”

Simon of Cyrene is in the Bible.  He is often depicted as a black man.  His feast day is during Black History Month.  Nearly every black church has some sort of display on a bulletin board that month.  On that board are pictures of Oprah Winfrey (New Age), Malcolm X (Nation of Islam/Orthodox Islam), and others who are everything from African Methodist Episcopal (the oldest black American denomination) to those who are “spiritual, but not religious.”  We can offer icons of the first man of any race to carry the cross of our Lord to be a part of these cultural heroes.  We may generate interest in other black saints.  We may generate interest in other saints and in the Church.  Does that mean we will have 3,000 new converts from the African-American community, or only three?  Shame on us if we don’t try to evangelize with the tools we have been blessed with.  Shame on us if we don’t use the tools we have to find some common ground in this highly divisive society.
And I am not suggesting we do anything new or modern that has never been done in Orthodoxy before. 
Saints Cyril & Methodius didn’t ignore the Slavs need for the Gospel to be preached in a language they could understand.  They created Church Slavonic. Saints Herman and Innocent wait for the Native Alaskans to learn Slavonic before reaching out to them in love. They translated the scriptures and other religious books in their native languages.  Painting icons of Martin Luther King Jr. or jazz great John Coltrane as saints is out of the question as they were not Orthodox and cannot be canonized as saints in the Church (although we do honor the great Civil Rights leader and can enjoy ‘Trane’s music).  But, Simon of Cyrene is a saint in our records and the most common holy book that black people have access to.  We may not know about his life before or after he carried the cross, which is why he is not prominent on our calendars.  But, we do know that he did it because the Holy Bible that our Church put together tells us he did.  For (we) Orthodox Christians to honor this feast day which is on a day of the month where (we) African-Americans celebrate (our) their heritage is an act of finding common ground.

A Proposal to Celebrate Saint Simon of Cyrene Day, February 27th

The Modern Monastic Order Of Saint Simon of Cyrene

Every March 17th, people of Irish ancestry lead the celebration of their patron, St. Patrick. For one day, we all wear something green, eat corned beef & cabbage, look for four-leafed clovers, and drink Irish beer & whiskey.  While we don’t honor him in the black church, we don’t mind joining in the spirit of the day.
Every February 14th, men in particular spend money on cards, candy, flowers, and other gifts to woo their sweethearts in honor of St. Valentine. Chances are that he lived as a celibate monk without candlelight dinners and roses.  Quite a few churches have couples events with Cupid symbols as decorations.
And then there is good ol’e St. Nicholas. His feast day is on December 6th.  But, of course, we delay his special day, turn him into a more Nordic incarnation, and honor him on the same day we do Jesus Christ.  As we confuse the two in the church and get mad when those outside of the church reject the later and embrace the former.
How come the black church does not celebrate a black saint whose example can be embraced by all people? What if there was a black saint who, unlike the fore mentioned heroes of early Church history, is found in the Bible?  And wouldn’t it be great if this saint’s feast day happened to fall on a day during Black History Month?  Well, our “what if’s” are solved by one man, Simon of Cyrene!
We all know the story of this African saint. In the first three (Synoptic) Gospels, Simon is the man who is forced by the Romans to carry the cross for Jesus up on Calvary for the crucifixion *.  Apparently, the cross bearer must have seen something holy in the condemned One.  Perhaps he also bore witness of the Lord’s resurrection.  Looking at both the Gospel of Mark and Paul’s letter to the Romans, Simon clearly raised two sons to be notable sons in the early Church.  And, according to ancient Christian tradition, his feast day is February 27th.
Why do we need to celebrate St. Simon of Cyrene Day? I refer back to the example of St. Patrick.  Every Christian culture needs to honor someone among them who has been an example of holy living.  Simon was forced to carry the cross, yet found the truth of the Gospel beyond the way he was introduced to it.  This is not any different from our forefathers and mothers in America who were introduced to being Christians by hypocrite white supremacist, yet they found salvation in Jesus.  Why shouldn’t we celebrate a Biblical African whose story is like ours?
But, shouldn’t we glorify God and Him alone? Let us consider that we have the pastor’s anniversary, choir anniversary, deacon’s day, dearness’ day, trustee’s day, junior usher’s day, … .  We don’t glorify these people.  But we honor them for the service they provide to the body of Christ.  Name one African or person of African descent that has done more for Christ than literally lift and carry His cross.  Not even his disciples did this.  Even more so, Jesus taught us that to follow Him, one must deny himself and carry his cross.  Simon is the first example of this.  Surely he should be honored like a pastor or a junior usher for a day.

Icon by fr Jerome Sanderson

To honor this saint, one need not dig into church history books. Just open up the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and read the scripture of Jesus being led to Golgotha.  This isn’t a new passage of the Bible for most of us.  It’s in many of our Sunday School lessons before Easter.  We hear the words during Holy Week services.  Incorporating Simon of Cyrene Day during a worship service, or holding a day service in his honor is re-enforcing the Gospel lesson of our Lord’s death that conquered death.  There is nothing wrong with telling the story over and over again.
Referring back to the scripture references in Mark and Romans, it is no secret that there is a high number of absentee fatherhood in our community. Why not then set St. Simon as an example as a role model for Christian fatherhood.  Just as parents are our kid’s first teachers, fathers (laymen as well as clergy) ought to be first preachers and examples of Christian manhood for our children and our sons in particular.  Our boys and young men need fathers who will teach them to pray, read scripture, and lead Godly lives.  Sermons and Sunday School lessons can focus on the role of the man being the head of the house and being the type of man who our women and wives can respect and love and that our girls and daughters will grow to look for in a husband.
Simon of Cyrene is often depicted as a black man. Fr. Jerome Sanderson, and African-American priest in the Bulgarian Orthodox Archdiocese, has produced an icon of the saint.  It was made specifically for the St. Simon of Cyrene Mission Parish of the Orthodox Church of America in New Brunswick NJ, pastored by Fr. Deacon Samuel Davis,  according to the traditional canons of our faith.  You are welcome to contact Fr. Jerome about the use of the icon.  Or, you may use some other image of your choosing.  I understand, as a former Baptist pastor, that you have your arguments against iconography.  I will not debate the point and offer the use of images as a suggestion.
We are in a long-standing battle against white supremacy in this nation. Too often, white skin has been used as a symbol of purity and truth while black represents evil and wickedness.  Yet, here it is; a black man bears the cross of our Savior.  In the scriptures, Simon was forced to bear the cross for the native Palestinian Jewish Messiah who couldn’t have had pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes.  By one tradition, this same black man helped remove the nails from the Lord’s body.  And obviously, he raised two black sons with a wife considered to be like a mother to the Palestinian Jewish Apostle who brought the Gospel to Europe.  Celebrating Simon of Cyrene is a wonderful counter-balance to the myth of white supremacy as God has shown that our race has been proven worthy of His kingdom from the very beginning of Christianity.

It does us no good, however, to boast that we belong to the race of the first man to take up the cross of Christ and not demand that we do this today. We must raise the bar for ourselves as black men.  Not only to overcome obvious demons of drugs, gangs, and the like.  But, that we must also struggle against hidden sins such as anger, greed, and lust.  As we raise the example of the cross-bearer, we should live his example as well.  Our Lord taught us that if we clean the inside of the dish, the outside will be clean as well.  And we can present this clean dish as an example of the Christian faith.  This clean presentation is not some “hand-me-down” to gain favor among conservative evangelicals.  No, we do this to honor the black man who was the example of cross bearing manhood for all Christians.
The name “Simon” means “obedient.”*** We can clearly see that the Romans forced him to carry the cross.  But, no one ordered him to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.  No one made him raise his sons to be Christians.  Like the Roman soldier who witnessed the crucifixion and confessed that Jesus must have been the Son of God****, so was Simon compelled to belive in the One he carried the cross for.  And doesn’t that sound like the African-American Christian experience.  
Frederick Douglass and other slaves had a “Christian” identity placed on him.  But yet the abolitionist leader saw the love and mercy of Jesus Christ beyond the brutal hypocrisy of white Christians slaveholders and their allies.  Bishop Henry McNeil Turner was taught the faith as a boy.  But, surely he came to know that Jesus was the suffering savior of the oppressed and not the God of self-righteous oppressors.  Even Marcus Garvey, the father of black nationalism, had a strong belief in Jesus Christ as he was a critic of lynch mobs.  Black Christians have always had a faith that went beyond our circumstances.  It is only fitting that we honor the first black man, the Biblical black man who did this.
And St. Simon’s feast day is within African-American History Month, February 27th. Among the men and women we honor that month, some were not Christian.  Others were athletes and entertainers.  Others were known for their inventions and innovations in science and technology.  Still others were political leaders.  Of course there are preachers, pastors, and laymen & women among our great men and women of the past.  But, if we can salute these heroes, surely we can salute the Biblical hero who kept the faith, endured a grueling contest, was an example of holy living, gained a portion of the heavenly kingdom, and lived the Gospel.
I propose that every African-American Christian of all denominations and non-denominations celebrate the feast of St. Simon of Cyrene. This can be done on the last Sunday of February as many of us tend to have evening programs during Black History Month.  That Sunday, the Sunday School teachers and preachers can use the scriptures referring to him and his son in lessons and sermons.  The recognition of St. Simon can be a part of the morning worship without an evening service, if prefered.  There can be evening services on February 27th, which falls on a Tuesday.  Orthodox Christians may choose to have Vespers services on the 26th as the liturgical day begins at sunset the day before.  This will also allow us to participate with our non-Othodox brothers & sisters.  We can have traditional (or modern, healthy) soul food meals, have special projects for the poor among us, perhaps a concert of Negro Spirituals.  This need (and should) not be a “black only” event.  Just as we are all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, we can invite people of all races to be black Christians willing to bear the cross of our Lord, establish Christian marriages, and raise up our children in the faith.   Perhaps this could lead to discussions on race that go deeper than the political rhetoric and counter rhetoric that hasn’t been spiritually productive.
In the coming months and weeks, I will write more on this topic and proposal. There are plenty of things here that I can highlight.  But, for now, let us begin the process of celebrating our identity as a Christian people through the saint that has shown us how to bear the cross.  Let us compel ourselves to live in a greater sense of repentance, self-denial, and holiness.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sanderson Icons can be found at here.
More information about the St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission can be found at here (& here)
* Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26
**Romans 16:13; This Rufus is believed to be one of the two sons of Simon of Cyrene
***Orthodox Study Bible, pg. 1412, footnote on Luke 23:26
****Mark 15:39


Hymn to st Simon of Cyrene from Patriarchate of Alexandria & all Africa (Metropolis of Cyrene) - in Greek (& here

See also

Ferguson, MO vs. Malcolm X: Are We Chasing Our Tails? - It is time for us all to come home...
The Least of These
The Desert Fathers: A Sad Omission of the Black Church - A Beacon for Evangelism

Native American Pathways to Orthodoxy
The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place
African Saints
Hymn to the African Saints
Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black
St Mary of Egypt, a multi-cultural orthodox community in Kansas City
St Nicholas of Japan, a multi-ethnic orthodox parish in Johannesburg

"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
«African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God...»

Sunday of the Orthodoxy (first Sunday of Great Lent): Who Christ is for us and how we worship Him?

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia & Malawi


Photo from here
We have come to the end of the first week of the holy salvific, and great Lent. We heard the prayerful canon of St. Andrew of Crete, in which we recalled people and events from the history of the Church, the history of humanity. But it is not for the sake of a history lesson that we gathered in church each evening. While hearing about the sinners of old who lived thousands of years ago in far-away places, we sorrowfully recognized our own sins. But it turns out that from the righteous ones we are truly separated by thousands of years and kilometers. Today, on the first Sunday of Great Lent, we recall one more event from Church history. In memory of the defeat of the iconoclast heresy, the Holy Church established in the 9th century the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. This heresy, which tormented the Body of Christ for over a century, was condemned at the seventh Ecumenical Council[1] and again by the Synod of Constantinople, the period of Christological debates within the Church came to an end, and the Orthodox teaching was re-established.
The iconoclast heresy rejected not only the icon as a window through which a ray of light may shine into the darkened human soul, but also the Orthodox teaching about Christ as fully God and fully human in the hypostasis of God the Son.
But, like everything in the Church, this feast is established not merely for historiographic reasons, and it is not by accident that the Fathers of the Church established this feast on the first Sunday of Great Lent. The Triumph of Orthodoxy in the soul of each one of us is the goal of Great Lent; triumph over falsehood, heresy, and the snares of the devil, and achieving Orthodoxy in our souls is the goal of our whole life. And one of the central issues of the Orthodox state of our soul and our life is the question of Who Christ is for us and how we worship Him. It is precisely this question that Christ posed to His disciples (Matt. 16:15), and upon the rock of Peter’s answer established His Church (Matt. 16:18).
In the end, it is an incorrect answer to this question that defines every heresy. “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15) Only God, Who appeared in human form as a ghost, a mirage? Only human—a great prophet who knows the mysteries of God—but only human? Whom did the Most Holy Virgin bear—a human, who was destined to become the chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit, or pre-eternal God Himself?

Photo from here (Nairobi, Kenya)

Finally, which prototype does the Church venerate of the icon- undescribable and unimaginable God, Whom no one has ever seen (John 1:18), a created Body, which can be depicted but is a creature like all others, or the incarnate hypostasis of God the Son? How do we relate to Christ? As a hireling, expecting to receive our reward according to a contract, as an accused man who is sure of his acquittal because someone else took the blame for his crime, or as a person dying from a fatal illness who entrusts his life to the hands of a merciful Physician, begging for healing? Each heresy found its own answers to these questions, and each time the Church Fathers rose up to defend the Orthodox teaching.
This is why our Church is holy, apostolic, and patristic. It is holy, because it is created by the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies, enlightens, cleanses, and makes the Church whiter than snow. The Spirit of God prepares the Church, the bride of Christ, to stand before the Divine Groom blameless, untarnished by sin, falsehood, and heresy.
We call the Church Apostolic, because the apostles, the pillars of the Church, having received God’s grace on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and authority from Christ to bind and loose for the salvation of human souls (Matt. 16:19), freely gave this Grace through bishops to the entire Church. As grapes do not grow other than on a grapevine, in the same way there cannot be a Church without a bishop. Without apostolic succession there can only be a club of amateur gardeners who get together to read gardening manuals, but there cannot be a Church.

"Death has robbed a student of Social work department - Elijah Ngigi he was a humble and hardworking student that I knew for a period of time. As to his death he landed in the hands of cruel men who shortened his dreams. may his sour rest in peace" (Orthodox College of Africa).

We call the Church patristic because the holy fathers brought the fruits of righteous life and true theology on Christ’s vine, from which we eat, being strengthened in our life and faith.
The Holy Orthodox Church, our loving mother, protects us, her children, from all evil. And gives us only the healthiest and most nutritious fruits, and shields us from harmful and poisonous things. We, in turn, often do not listen to the mother’s advice and run from good. Even worse, we begin to puff up with pride, imagining that we are more educated, wiser, and more spiritual than the holy fathers, and that the path that led them to salvation is not acceptable for us, that it is archaic, that we know better which rules and rubrics to follow and which ones to ignore. To borrow a description from the Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev, we act like a person who enters the cockpit of a modern jetliner and, not comprehending the purpose behind the controls, declares that half of them are unnecessary; or as a person who has not even passed Biology 101, but enters a neurosurgeon’s office and declares that half of the surgical instruments are useless because he does not understand their purpose.

It is just as unintelligent to come to the tree of the Church, not knowing how to grow and ripen fruit, and to declare that the roots are unnecessary, the trunk can be cut down, the branches broken off. It is not for us to create the Church; “I will create”, says Christ. Ours is either to be in it and bear fruit or to be cut off from the Church and to entertain ourselves by reading gardening manuals.
Let us then, brothers and sisters, follow the spirit of the holy fathers and apostles, emulating their lives. Let us follow the Church rubrics and keep the fast. Let us live our lives in such a way that the Triumph of Orthodoxy, defeat of heresy, may become the state of our souls and not merely a historic event.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council convened on September 24, 787 in Nicaea.

A symbol of freedom of worship

"We carry icons this day around the church as a symbol of freedom of worship. It's indeed a great blessing to all Orthodox Christians. During this festive season of great Lent, we fast and pray for the needy persons. May God bless you abundantly."

In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa

Fr Makarios Rop

All Saints of Africa, orthodox icon from South Africa (here)

 The Gospel of the Day in English, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic & Deutsch

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia & Malawi

John 1:43-51

43 The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and found Philip and said unto him, “Follow Me.”
44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said unto him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 And Nathanael said unto him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said unto him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
48 Nathanael said unto Him, “How knowest Thou me?” Jesus answered and said unto him, “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.”
49 Nathanael answered and said unto Him, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.”
50 Jesus answered and said unto him, “Because I said unto thee, ‘I saw thee under the fig tree,’ believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these.”
51 And He said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

От Иоанна 1:43-51
Иисус призывает Филиппа и Нафанаила
43 На следующий день Иисус решил идти в Галилею. Он нашел Филиппа и сказал ему:
– Следуй за Мной!
44 Филипп был из Вифсаиды, из того же города, что и Андрей с Петром. 45 Он нашел Нафанаила и сказал ему:
– Мы встретили Того, о Ком написано в Законе Моисея и о Ком писали пророки. Это Иисус, сын Иосифа[a] из Назарета.
46 Нафанаил ответил:
– Разве из Назарета может быть что-нибудь доброе?
– Пойди и посмотри, – сказал Филипп.
47 Когда Иисус увидел идущего к Нему Нафанаила, Он сказал:
– Вот истинный израильтянин, в котором нет ни тени притворства.
48 – Откуда Ты меня знаешь? – удивился Нафанаил.
Иисус ответил:
– Еще до того, как Филипп позвал тебя, Я видел тебя под инжиром.
49 Тогда Нафанаил сказал:
– Рабби, Ты действительно Сын Бога, Ты Царь Израиля!
50 Иисус сказал:
– Ты говоришь это потому, что Я сказал, что видел тебя под инжиром. Ты увидишь еще больше этого.
51 И добавил:
– Говорю вам истину, вы увидите открытые небеса и ангелов Божьих, спускающихся и поднимающихся к Сыну Человеческому

Sundau of Orthodoxy, Burundi (from here)

João 1:43-51
43 No dia seguinte, quis Jesus ir à Galileia, e achou a Filipe, e disse-lhe: Segue-me. 44 E Filipe era de Betsaida, cidade de André e de Pedro. 45 Filipe achou Natanael e disse-lhe: Havemos achado aquele de quem Moisés escreveu na Lei e de quem escreveram os Profetas: Jesus de Nazaré, filho de José. 46 Disse-lhe Natanael: Pode vir alguma coisa boa de Nazaré? Disse-lhe Filipe: Vem e vê. 47 Jesus viu Natanael vir ter com ele e disse dele: Eis aqui um verdadeiro israelita, em quem não há dolo. 48 Disse-lhe Natanael: De onde me conheces tu? Jesus respondeu e disse-lhe: Antes que Filipe te chamasse, te vi eu estando tu debaixo da figueira. 49 Natanael respondeu e disse-lhe: Rabi, tu és o Filho de Deus, tu és o Rei de Israel. 50 Jesus respondeu e disse-lhe: Porque te disse: vi-te debaixo da figueira, crês? Coisas maiores do que estas verás. 51 E disse-lhe: Na verdade, na verdade vos digo que, daqui em diante, vereis o céu aberto e os anjos de Deus subirem e descerem sobre o Filho do Homem.


Johannes 1:43-51
Jesus beruft Philippus und überzeugt Nathanael
43 Als Jesus am nächsten Tag nach Galiläa gehen wollte, traf er unterwegs Philippus. Auch ihn forderte er auf: »Komm, folge mir nach!« 44 Philippus stammte wie Andreas und Petrus aus Betsaida. 45 Später begegnete Philippus Nathanael und erzählte ihm: »Wir haben den gefunden, von dem Mose im Gesetz geschrieben hat und den die Propheten angekündigt haben. Es ist Jesus aus Nazareth, der Sohn von Josef.« 46 »Nazareth?«, entgegnete Nathanael. »Was kann von da schon Gutes kommen!« Doch Philippus antwortete ihm: »Komm mit und überzeuge dich selbst!«

47 Als Jesus Nathanael erblickte, sagte er: »Hier kommt ein wahrer Israelit, ein ganz und gar aufrichtiger Mensch!« 48 Nathanael staunte: »Woher kennst du mich?« Jesus erwiderte: »Noch bevor Philippus dich rief, habe ich dich unter dem Feigenbaum gesehen.« 49 »Rabbi, du bist wirklich Gottes Sohn!«, rief Nathanael. »Du bist der König von Israel!« 50 Jesus sagte: »Das glaubst du, weil ich dir gesagt habe, dass ich dich unter dem Feigenbaum sah. Aber du wirst noch viel größere Dinge zu sehen bekommen.« 51 Und er fuhr fort: »Ich sage euch die Wahrheit: Ihr werdet den Himmel offen und die Engel Gottes hinauf- und herabsteigen sehen zwischen Gott und dem Menschensohn!«


ﻳﻮﺣﻨﺎ 1:43-51
43 وَفِي اليَوْمِ التّالِي قَرَّرَ يَسُوعُ الذَّهابَ إلَى إقلِيْمِ الجَلِيلِ. فَوَجَدَ رَجُلاً اسْمُهُ فِيلِبُّسُ وَقالَ لَهُ: «اتبَعْنِي.» 44 وَكانَ فِيلِبُّسُ مِنْ بَلْدَةِ بَيْتَ صَيْدا، بَلْدَةِ أنْدَراوُسَ وَبُطْرُسَ. 45 وَوَجَدَ فِيلِبُّسُ نَثَنائِيلَ وَقالَ لَهُ: «لَقَدْ وَجَدْنا الرَّجُلَ الَّذِي كَتَبَ عَنْهُ مُوسَى فِي كُتُبِ الشَّرِيْعَةِ، وَالَّذِي كَتَبَ عَنْهُ الأنبِياءُ! هُوَ يَسُوعُ بْنُ يُوسُفَ مِنْ مَدِيْنَةِ النّاصِرَةِ.» 46 فَقالَ لَهُ نَثَنائِيلُ: «أيُمْكِنُ أنْ يَخرُجَ شَيْءٌ صالِحٌ مِنَ النّاصِرَةِ؟» فَقالَ فِيلِبُّسُ: «تَعالَ وَانظُرْ بِنَفْسِكَ.»

47 وَرَأى يَسُوعُ نَثَنائِيلَ آتِياً نَحْوَهُ، فَقالَ عَنْهُ: «هَذا إسْرائِيلِيٌّ أصِيلٌ لا خِداعَ فِيْهِ!» 48 فَقالَ لَهُ نَثَنائِيلُ: «كَيْفَ عَرَفْتَنِي؟» فَأجابَ يَسُوعُ: «رَأيْتُكَ عِندَما كُنْتَ تَحتَ شَجَرَةِ التِّيْنِ، قَبلَ أنْ يَدْعُوكَ فِيلِبُّسُ.» 49 فَقالَ نَثَنائِيلُ: «يا مُعَلِّمُ، أنتَ ابْنُ اللهِ! أنْتَ مَلِكُ إسْرائِيلَ!» 50 فَأجابَهُ يَسُوعُ: «أتُؤْمِنُ بِي لِأنِّي قُلْتُ إنِّي رَأيْتُكَ تَحتَ شَجَرَةِ التِّيْنِ؟ سَتَرَى أعظَمَ مِنْ هَذا.» 51 ثُمَّ قالَ لَهُ: «أقُولُ الحَقَّ لَكُمْ، سَتَرَوْنَ السَّماءَ تَنفَتِحُ وَ‹مَلائِكَةُ اللهِ يَصْعَدُونَ وَيْنزِلُونَ› [a] عَلَى ابْنِ الإنسانِ.»

See also

Archbishop Seraphim of Zimbabwe: “Come and See” - The feast day of Orthodoxy (& the mistake of today’s atheists)...
Holy Icons (tag)
To See Him Face to Face

Sunday of Orthodoxy, Orthodox Cathedral of Agia Triada in Harare
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the St George's Cathedral of Cape Town, South Africa  
Sunday of Orthodoxy at Sts. Anargyroi, in Nairobi, Kenya

Σάββατο 24 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

“ ...Vakavhara miromo yeshumba. Vakadzima simba remoto, vakatiza minhondo inopinza, vakasimbiswa pahutere,vakava nesimba pakurwa, vakadzinga hondo dzemamwe marudzi”...



Greek Orthodox Archbishopric of Zimbabwe
Mifananidzo yacho inobva kuKenya, Uganda neRwanda.
Bira resvondo yeOrthodhokisi rakaumbwa mugore ra842 nechinangwa chekuti tikurire pachitendero chechokwadi ( kunamata kwechokwadi> pfungwa dzakanaka> Orthodhokisi) pachimiro uye nehunhu hwaJesu Kristu uye kuti tiremekedze maSande edu kubirikidza nekushandisa mifananidzo inoera.
Zvisinei, zvishoma nezvishoma bira iri rakapararira, ndokuwana chiremerera chikuru nekuti rakatanga kutigadzirira nekutirangaridza kukunda kweOrthodhokisi kubva kune chitendero chisingatendi muna Kristu, kubva kudzidziso dzenhema uye kunyanya kukunda kwekereke kubva kuvavengi vayo. Ndosaka mune dzimwe kereke dzedu dzeOrthodhokisi, seyedu yemuno muAfrica, kuti tiratidze kukunda kwakaita kereke yedu , tinoverenga Rudaviro rwekutenda kwedu semunamato wakakosha uye rwunoisa mazwi mashoma akakosha ayo kereke yedu kuburikidza nemadzibaba edu anoremekedzwa vakapinda mumisangano miviri yekutanga yevakuru vekereke yedu ( Nikeya 325 uye Muguta raKonstandino 381) kuti tiratidzwe midzi yedzidziso dzechitendero dzechikristu.
Bira reOrthodhokisi rakakosha maererano nedzidziso dzezveHumwari kuhupenyu hwemukristu nekuti rinofambirana neruponeso rwake. Mukuedza kukanganisa uye nekureva nhema pamusoro pedzidziso dzemakristu emukereke yedu , varevi venhema vanokanganisa nzira yeruponeso kumunhu, voita kuti agare kure naMwari, uye kure neruponeso rwaKristu, sekuratidzwa kwazvakaitwa neHutatu Hunoera pamwe nedzidziso dzaKristu, naVapostora vanoera nevatevedzeri vavo. Nyaya yeOrthodhokisi yaive yekuburitsa chokwadi pachena. Hunhu hweavo vasingatendi muna Kristu hwaiva hwekuunza manyepo. Nemanyepo munhu haakwanise kusimudzirwa kana kuponeswa. Rima rinomuparadza rinotonyanya maari. Kuwora kunopinda. Tinozozivikanwa nezvimiro zvakaipa zvekurarama nazvo, kudarika mhuka kunge vekuSodhomi neGomora. Kuparadzwa kunovepo, marwadzo zvakare nekurasikirwa neizvo zvatinenge tinazvo.

Munyika yanhasi yebudiriro zvakare yekutambudzika, danho rechitendero chedu nderekuendera mberi kuisa tariro yekurarama kuti tive nenyika iri nani uye yakasunguka. Basa negoho remutendi maererano nezvisimbiswa zvinoiswa nevhangeri , zvinoita kuti ive mharidzo yakanaka yekereke yedu munyika matiri kurarama. Tinokokwa kuti tive Vatumwa vaKristu, tatanga tava vadzidzi vake tiri pedyo naye, tasiya hunhu hwedu hwekare hwezvivi, totanga kuvandudza hupenyu hwedu nekurwisana kuchengetedza mirairo yake inoera. Tinofanirwa kuva nekutenda sekwemaSande edu, sekutaura kwaita musande Pauro muchiverengwa cheVapositori chanhasi, “Avo vakakunda hushe nokutenda kwavo vakaita zvakarurama, vakapihwa zvipikirwa, vakavhara miromo yeshumba. Vakadzima simba remoto, vakatiza minhondo inopinza, vakasimbiswa pahutere,vakava nesimba pakurwa, vakadzinga hondo dzemamwe marudzi. Vakadzi vakapihwa zve vakafa vavo, vamutswa,vamwe vakapurwa, vakaramba kusunungurwa, kuti vawane kumuka kwakapfuura nekunaka. Vamwe vakaedzwa, vachisekwa, vachirohwa zvikuru, uye zve vachisungwa, vachiiswa mutirongo, vakatakwa nemabwe, vakatemwa temwa nejeko, vakaedzwa, vakauraiwa nemunhondo, vakafamba vakafuga matehwe emakwai, nenguvo dzembudzi; vasina chinhu, vachitambudzika, vachiitirwa zvakaipa; (nyika haina kufanirwa navo), vachidzungaira mumarenje, nemumakomo,nemumapako nemumakomba enyika. (VaHebheru 11:33-38).
Kana tikararama muhupenyu hwaKristu tinorarama hupenyu hwechikristu. Chokwadi chinoratidza izvi matambudziko ataurwa namusande Pauro pamusoro kuti anofanirwa kutiwira sekuwira kwaakaita maSande edu muhupenyu hwavo. Kunyangwe tiri mafundisi kana vabatsiri mukereke tinofanirwa kufunga kutaurira vavakidzani vedu zvakanaka, sezvatanzwa mumutsara wevhangeri ranhasi apo Firipi akatsvaga Natanaeri ( Johane 1:46) kuti amukurudzire kuti vave vadzidzi vaKristu: “Huya Uone”.
Dambudziko rinoita avo vasingatendi munaMwari neavo vasina hanya neshoko dzvene nderekuti vanoramba shoko raMwari vasati vazvipa mukana wekuteerera shoko reruponeso rwaJesu Kristu. Vanotirangaridza varwere vasingadi kurapwa nenyaya yekuti havadi kugamuchira kuwanikwa kunoita mishonga nevadzidzi. Nenzira iyi varikuzvidzvanyirira uye nenharaunda yavanogara, nekuti nekumwe kutaura zvinokonzeresa matambudziko akanyanya nekuti rudo rwakanaka harwuonekwi muhupenyu hwavo kana kuti kune vamwe vanhu vavanorarama navo. Sekuti zvakaoma kuti tive madhokotera kana vagadziri vemotokari kana tisina kudzidza kwemakore mazhinji saka nenzira imwe zvakaoma kuti tinzwisise hupenyu hwechikristu kana tikasazvivandudza pakuchengeta mirairo inoera yaJesu Kristu, kudzidza hupenyu hunoera hwekereke yedu uye nedzidziso dzayo. Zvisinei hutsvene hwehupenyu hwedu, kunyanya hweavo vanotitungamirira hunoita kuti tisimbe nekutendeka pakupa mubairo wemharidzo yechikristu kuvanhu kuti vatende vagove masande.

Maererano nezvehuMwari, bira reOrthodhokisi rinotsanangudzwa zvizere mumusangano wevakuru vekereke wechinomwe kutsigira chitendero chedu kuti: “ Sekuona kwakaita Vaporofita, Sekudzidzisa kwakaita Vatumwa, Sekuraira kwakaita vadzidzisi, Sekubvumira kwakaita pasi rose, Sekuratidzwa kwakaitwa nyasha, Sekuburitswa kwakaitwa chokwadi, Sekurambwa kwakaitwa manyepo, Sekupihwa kwakaitwa huchenjeri, Sekupa kwakaita Kristu: ndozvatinotenda, ndozvatinozivisa, ndozvatinoparidza, Kristu ndiMwari wedu wechokwadi, tinoremekedza maSande ake mumazwi, mukufunga, mumipiro mukereke uye nemumifananidzo inoera. Tinorumbidza Kristu saMwari uye saMambo. Tinoremekedza maSande ake sevaranda vaMwari vechokwadi uye tinovapa rukudzo. Ndokutenda kweVatumwa! Ndokutenda kwemadzibaba edu! Ndokutenda kwekereke yedu! Ndokutenda kwakavandudzwa pasi rose. (Tiriodhioni).
Svondo yeOrthodhokisi, izuva reavo vakabva kare vachiramba vakatsungirira mukupupura chitendero chedu munyika yatirikurarama nhasi. Nyasha dzaMwari dzinovapo nekushanda matiri kana hupenyu hwedu hukava pedyo nehupenyu hwaKristu. Nekuva takakodzera kutora nzvimbo musakaramende reChidyo Chinoera, pasi rose rinova nhengo yemuviri wedu. Ndozvakavanzika, zvenyasha dzinoera zvekereke yedu: kunzwisisa, kunzwa nekurarama matambudziko epasi rose seedu. Nyasha dzaMwari dzinorarama matiri, kwete patinotaura zvakanaka nezvehuMwari chete asi neapo patinonzwa shanduko muhupenyu hwedu. Hupenyu hwedu inguva yekutendeuka. Kuti tizive pekugumira, patinokurirwa neapo patinokangisa tinofanirwa kuzvienzanisa nechimiro chaJesu Kristu. Chipi nechipi chinoitika pasina kutenda muna Jesu Kristu, chinogona kuva njodzi yekuita chinhu chakaipa.
Kurarama hunhu hwechikristu, zvinoreva kuti unofanirwa kuita hunhu hwakanaka pose pauri. Hupenyu hweuyo akatendeka hunovanzwa muhupenyu hwaKristu: patinorarama hupenyu hwake, patinotevedzera hupenyu hwake nemabasa ake nepatinoda vanhu vose tovaitira zvatinokwanisa.