“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10)
As I wrote about last week, we are now officially in the midst of the season of Lent … oh no… wait a minute… I said that I don’t believe that Lent is meant to be just a “season.” A “season” comes and goes with no purpose; the only reason we are in a “season” is because the calendar tells us that it is time for that season.
ASIDE: Coincidentally enough, I just noticed that “spring” officially begins in one week, March 20 – but who cares? That proves my point. No one is expecting that next Wednesday is really any different than this one – it’s just what the calendar says. Seasons make no difference.
Lent is not a season, but rather a journey. A journey has a purpose. We are going somewhere. We have a destination. And on this journey of Lent, we have two specific destinations that we’re trying to reach: a CROSS and a TOMB. Read More
If you’re an Orthodox Christian, this week marked the first day of a 55 day journey called Lent. I like calling it a “journey” more than a “season” because that helps me remember that there is a purpose.
Seasons come and seasons go and nothing really changes. We go through winter for a while and then it’s time for spring. And then soon spring goes and then it’s time for summer. Just a season. Something we go through just because the calendar tells us that it’s the time of year to go through it.
A journey however is something we go through for a purpose. Read More
A lie believed as truth will affect your life as though it were true.
(read that one more time please)
I once did a little experiment on a Sunday morning. At the start of the sermon, I told all the people that I had secretly placed four $50 bills underneath seats in the church. I explained it as random act of kindness and I fully convinced them that this was true.
Of course it wasn’t true. It was 100% false. It was a flat out lie (which I've already repented about and confessed :) ). But the fact that it was a lie didn’t matter. What mattered is that people THOUGHT it was true. The reality of it being a lie wasn’t as important as the perception that it was true. Read More
“Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.” Luke 15:15-16
This Sunday – the third Sunday of Lent – we read one of the most well-known and beloved stories of the entire Bible: the parable of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15:11-32 if you need a refresher).
Why do we love this story so much? What is it that makes this particular parable melt our hearts the way that it does?
It’s more than just the love of the father or the forgiveness he shows to his son; there’s more to it than that. There’s something in this story that stirs the heart of everyone who hears it or reads it.
What makes this story so touching? What jumps out to me is how LOW the boy had fallen and how HIGH he was lifted after that.
It’s the discrepancy or change from start to finish. At one point, he had sunk to the lowest of lows – the textbook definition of “rock bottom” – but by the end of the story, he had ascended to the highest of highs – the receipt of amazing grace and an incredible deliverance.
How deep had he sunk? Read More
It’s here. It's now officially here. Put away those hamburgers and get that ice cream out of sight. It’s time to break out the veggie burgers and soy milk. Why? Because LENT IS HERE!
Every year at the start of Lent, I like to set a goal or focus. Instead of fasting aimlessly, I like to have a target that I'm aiming for. And this year, God convicted me that my focus is very similar to what it was two years ago. (I'm even going back and rereading the same book I was reading back then).
So I decided to dig up the old blog post from 2015 - which is equally applicable for me - and hopefully for you as well. Happy Lent everyone! Read More
“Lent is here! Lent is here! What do I do now? Gotta get rid of all the meat in the house… gotta buy LOTS of veggie burgers instead… and tofu… and anything that tastes like plastic. What do I do next? How much should I fast? How much should I pray? How much should I read? And WHAT should I read? SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!”
Never fear my brothers and sisters, Fr. Anthony’s Wednesday blog post and Periscope are here.
Today I’ll share what I am “doing" for Lent (even though I don’t like that expression and you’ll see why in a minute) and I’ll be answering your questions about anything Lent-related in today’s scope at 12:30 pm EST Read More
In case you haven’t looked a calendar recently, you might be surprised to know that we’re now half way through Lent – the most sacred time of year during which Orthodox Christians prepare to celebrate and relive Christ’s death on the cross, His burial in a tomb, and ultimately His resurrection from the dead.
And since we’re at the half way point, it’s probably a good time to remind ourselves of why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s usually during the middle of any race that you find yourself questioning what you’re doing… and why you’re doing it… and contemplating whether or not you can make it to the finish line.
So why do we fast for Lent? I mean really…why do we really fast? Why is fasting such a big deal in our church and we do place SOOO much emphasis on it?
“Lent is here, we can’t eat meat. Lent is here, we have to put soy milk in our coffee. Lent is here, don’t tell anyone that that’s milk chocolate, not dark chocolate. Lent is here, we can’t eat Cool Ranch Doritos, we have to eat Sun Chips instead.”
For too many people, Lent is all about food. "Don’t eat this and don’t eat that. Stay away from this and don’t even think about that." Food food food. For a season that is supposed to simplify our lives and our eating habits, it sure seems like we spend a lot of time talking (and thinking) about food.
But is Lent supposed to about food? Is that what this is all about? Or do we maybe have this thing backwards? Read More
I recently saw a documentary called “Life in a Day.” It’s a film that compiled thousands of hours of footage from people around the globe going through one particular day. The film had some light-hearted moments – like when a young boy asked his dad why he was filming him and nervously veered his head out from the camera frame – but mostly, it was sobering.
It showed destitute people in Nepal, a helpless family in a hut in Egypt, a young boy carrying his wooden stand through streets till he arrived at his designated corner for his shoe shine operation. The juxtaposition of those images with a man giddily driving his Lamborghini, a teenage girl obsessing over her iPhone or a man in a restaurant watching sushi pass him by on a conveyor belt were naturally jarring. The idea that some people have so little while others (us) have a lot is a subject of which we are aware. And to see such images is heartbreaking. Read More
I’ve been a priest for close to 12 years now. And in those 12 years, I’ve probably preached more than 1,000 sermons. But very few of them have ever touched me in the same way as the one below.
This is the video of a sermon I gave two years ago during this same time of year – the second week of Lent. It is based on the passage from Matthew 4:1-11, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.
I just watched it this morning and could still feel the chills in my spine as I remembered the picture of Jesus during those 40 days in the desert. The picture is not a pleasant one at all – it’s not the strong Jesus that we love to picture, or the Almighty Jesus or the Eternal Jesus. Instead we see a picture of a weak Jesus. A hungry Jesus. A Jesus in need of help from the angels. And that picture breaks my heart. Read More
Below is an article written by the late Reverend Alexander Schmemann – a prominent 20th century priest, theologian and writer in the Orthodox church here in America. Fr. Alexander published many books and articles and did much to help the spread of Orthodox Christianity in America before his untimely death from cancer in 1983.
The article below is about the significance and meaning of Forgiveness Sunday – the Sunday before the start of Lent. I am publishing it today because it is a perfect follow up to yesterday’s very popular post on FORGIVENESS: What Lent is All About.
I hope you enjoy this article from one of the modern day heroes of the Orthodox Church in America. Read More
Two days ago I posed a question to my blog readers: what do you think God wants us/you to focus on during Lent?
If we are going to get the most out of Lent and we are going to reach the destination we are aiming for (remember Lent is a journey, not a season), then what do we need to take with us along the way?
We agreed already that fasting is a key element, but there is certainly more. Much more! God is always more focused on the attitudes of the heart more than on the actions of the body. As the Scripture says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (see also Matthew 5:21-22 and 5:27-28).
So what heart attitude do we need to focus on at the start of this Lenten journey? Where should our emphasis lie?