Speaking the Same Thing! The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

1 Cor 1:10-18; 2 Chronicles 30, Colossians 1 We are surrounded on all sides by a culture that values diversity, novelty, and variety.  Even the dog owners on my FB page talk about the importance of not “boring” your pup with the same food every day!  I remember when we first moved to Pittsburgh 18 years ago, being struck by a beer add with about 8 different beers in identical steins, so…

“You First!”: The Sunday of the Ecumenical Council(s)

Titus 3:8-15; Romans 12:6-14; Numbers 12:3; Isaiah 66:2; Proverbs 25:27 “You first!” “No, you first!” “No, I insist, you first” “No, indeed, you!”  A crash ensues, as each obeys the other. We’ve seen this scenario in jokes, books, and comedies. And, like most humor, it has a foundation in reality.  Both can’t go first.  Similarly, those of us who are of a critical mindset might be distracted by our pre-communion prayer, recited…

On Slaves, Fruit and Freedom: The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Romans 6:18-23, Galatians 5:22-26; 6:1-2; Genesis 22; Leviticus 26:12-18. We come to a place in the Church year in which Orthodox jurisdictions following the same calendar diverge in their epistle readings, though not the gospel readings.  In the gospel for this Sunday, the fourth after Pentecost, we are heartened by Jesus’ encounter with a Gentile centurion who, though not a formal member of God’s family, exhibited faith: Jesus marvels at his spiritual…

A Promise is a Promise?: The Sunday of All Saints

Heb 11:33-12:2; Job 1 and 42; Ex 20:12; Deut 6:3; Ps 119:50; Lk 1: 7 and 24:49 The end of the passage in Hebrews concerning the cloud of witnesses is so important that we read it liturgically several times a year—we hear it both as we begin Lent, and as we cap Pascha and Pentecost on All Saints.  Let us listen yet again to Hebrews 11:33-12:2: [Let us remember those] who through…

“It Is More Blessed To Give Than To Receive:” Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council

Acts 20:16-36, Genesis 15, Genesis 28 Where do we usually go to hear the words of Jesus?  Why, of course, to the gospels!  But this Sunday, as we prepare for Pentecost (just as St. Paul was in our reading from Acts), we find an otherwise unattested word of Jesus in an unusual place:  in the mouth of St. Paul as he instructs the Ephesian elders who have come to meet him as…

The Diaspora: Disaster or Divine Dispensation?

(Acts 11:19-30; 2 Esdras 10:21-23; Psalm 43 LXX/44 MT; Genesis 22:15-18) For you see that our sanctuary has been laid waste, our altar thrown down, our temple destroyed; our harp has been laid low, our song has been silenced, and our rejoicing has been ended; the light of our lampstand has been put out, the ark of our covenant has been plundered, our holy things have been polluted, and the name by…

Multiplication, Ministry, and Maturity: Third Sunday of Pascha

Acts 6:1-7; Ephesians 4:10-13; Ex 18:19-21; Numbers 17; Deut 34:9 We may be surprised that we are running ahead this week in Acts’ story of the early Church, when we have not yet reached Pentecost.  But it is indeed appropriate for us to be thinking of the burgeoning life of the Church at this season, since Easter is the beginning of new life for God’s people.  God the Son did not simply…