Fr. Geoff’s Blog
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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.
At our Christmas baptism in 2017, six adults were baptised, chrismated and received into the Holy Orthodox Church. Following that service, a member of the congregation predicted that there would be two more sets of six adults baptised, chrismated and received into Holy Orthodoxy. Turns out that was a good prediction.
Pastoral Letter of the Holy Nativity of Christ — 2018 By the Grace of God John X Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Antioch To my Brothers, the Hierarchs and Shepherds of the Holy Church of Antioch, My Beloved Spiritual Children throughout the Apostolic See “I hear the angels sing today in Bethlehem: ‘Glory to Him whose good pleasure it was that peace should come on earth!’” (Litya of the Holy Nativity of Christ’s Feast).
An increasing number of Christians have come to believe that Christmas is derived from paganism. They’ve heard that the timing of Christmas may have been borrowed from Roman sun god worship. Or that Christmas trees come from German paganism. Or that the star on top of the Christmas tree comes from astrological worship. But these myths are all so wrong. Christmas—the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord—is a thoroughly Christians celebration. Here’s why.
Scripture has numerous ways of describing the relationship between God and mankind. The relationship is described as unity and oneness. It is described as partaking of Divinity. And sometimes it is described as being dressed or clothed in God’s righteousness. All these metaphors express an unfathomable truth as to how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit come to abide in the life of a Christian.
“Joyful” is the most suitable word to describe Metropolitan Basilios’ inaugural visit to The Good Shepherd. His Eminence gently and skillfully guided the choir and the clergy through our first Hierarchical Matins and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in several years. The entire congregation then retreated to a lunch in honour of His Eminence where we sang for him our traditional celebratory song, “Many Years.” Following the lunch, His Eminence sat with the parish committee for an hour.