On the first Sunday of the New Year, we celebrate the service of Theophany (also called Epiphany). This service marks the Baptism of our Lord and the physical revelation of His place in the Holy Trinity. ‘And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”’ (Matthew 3:16-17, ESV).
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Seemingly every year there’s a mad rush to tie up loose ends at work, shop, party and stress over visiting the relatives. Despite our streets and shops having awesome decorations, Christmas in Australia has become increasingly secular. The most counter-cultural thing you can do is to make this season an opportunity for increasing your spiritual sensitivity.
Icons have been described as “Theology written in images and colour.” Icons are not just pictures — they are sacred images, which convey spiritual truth in picture form, and are sometimes described as windows to heaven. Let's learn some more about what icons are, how they are made, the symbolism involved, and why some people protested against them!
Exploring Orthodoxy 2019 was a remarkable worship experience and a celebration of the Orthodox witness to Jesus Christ the Son of God. The day began with a Matins service led by the Antiochian Metropolitan Archbishop of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, His Eminence Basilios (Kodseie). The antiphonal contrast of Byzantine and Slavonic Polytonic chanting expressed the unity of the Orthodox Tradition within the diversity of multi-cultural Australia.
Learning to live a life of repentance is aided greatly by the Holy Mystery of Repentance. Commonly called “Confession,” it brings enormous relief from the burden of sin. Sin erects a barrier that feels like it cuts us off from God, interrupting our intimacy with Him. Confessing our sins to Christ and being assured they are forgiven restores intimacy.
John the Baptist, the Forerunner of Christ, began his preaching with the message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt 3:2). That was Christ’s first message too! (Matt 4:17). In the New Testament, the word translated into English as ‘repentance’ comes from the Greek ‘metanoia,’ which means ‘to change one’s mind’ or ‘to turn around.’ To repent is to have a change of heart. An idea has developed in some non-Orthodox circles that repentance is a unique, one-time activity that occurs when first making a commitment to Jesus as Lord.
Orthodox priests were recently featured on the evening news. The Orthodox were celebrating Theophany, which memorialises the revelation of the Holy Trinity in and through Jesus Christ’s baptism. The reporters asked the Orthodox priests what the celebration meant to them. Now I don't know everything the priests said, but what made it to the evening news was, “It's a little slice of Greece.” The news broadcast focused on the cultural aspects of the celebration and completely avoided mention of any religious aspects.