I’d like to share with you the story of a family of first century Christians whose names and history have been forgotten by many, if not most, Christians in the West. Six sisters, and two sons of the eldest sister, eight people altogether, all of them Samaritan. These people were in Jerusalem on the day of the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended from the Father and sealed the earthly Body of Christ, the Church. On that day, 3,000 people were baptised by the Apostles who had just received the Holy Spirit.
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This last week I have been meditating on the difference between the ethics of the Old Covenant and those of the New. Old Covenant ethics, for the most part, is grounded in behavioural rules. “Do not murder.” “Tithe the increase of one’s flock.” “Do not plant mixed seeds in a field.” “Send a menstruating woman outside the camp.” Under this system, observing the set of prescribed behaviours constitutes righteousness, regardless of how the rule-observance affects human flourishing.
At the beginning of Netflix’s historical drama “The Crown,” King George VI is describing the mystery of coronation to a very young Princess Elizabeth: “Unless I am anointed, I cannot be King.” “Do you understand?” “When the holy oil touches me, I am transformed: brought into direct contact with the Divine — forever changed — bound to God. It is the most important part of the entire ceremony.”
Under the banner of “personal choice,” the State of Victoria is winding the clock back. Way, way back to the social ethics of Ancient Rome. While Australian society has been the envy of the world, Victoria is willingly walking away from the Christian influence in law, morality, ethics and religion that has contributed so much to the great society in which we presently live.
When couples come to ministers to talk about their marriage ceremonies, ministers think it’s interesting to ask if they love one another. What a stupid question! How would they know? A Christian marriage isn’t about whether you’re in love. Christian marriage is giving you the practice of fidelity over a lifetime in which you can look back upon the marriage and call it love. It is a hard discipline over many years. — Stanley Hauerwas
On the weekend of Palm Sunday, six adults were joyfully received into the fellowship of Holy Orthodoxy through baptism and chrismation. Taking their stand with Christ and His Church, four received the grace of baptism and two of chrismation. They join an increasing number of people whose lives are being transformed by “the grace of the Lord, the Love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”
St. Symeon was the Abbot of St. Mamas Monastery in Constantinople. His writings date from around 1003 AD. He came from an influential political family that was swept from government when he was six. Trained to be a government official, he was leading a religious but worldly life in his early twenties. One night while saying his prayers, His life was dramatically transformed by a vision of the uncreated light. Wanting to follow the calling of God into a monastery, his spiritual father advised him to stay in his courtly role.