Rekindling the Missionary Mind

We Orthodox are Duty Bound to Share the Faith

As we usher in a new year, we Orthodox Christians are duty bound to share our faith with others. Christ is for everyone, but with all the bad press Christianity has been getting during the past decade, it is especially important that we approach evangelism in light of the historic Church. The missionary mind of the Orthodox Church must be rekindled in our time. Parishes must not remain enclaves of Greeks, Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Palestinians, or Serbs. The doors of the churches must be opened wide, welcoming all.

Orthodox clergy must remember that we are the first line of witness for the Faith, and if we hold ourselves aloof while wearing our cassocks and crosses in public, we are in essence slamming the door in the faces of potential converts to our faith. And, as priests belonging to different jurisdictions, we must cooperate in the foundation of new missions, so we don’t undermine the ability of any one mission to support a full time priest, and raise the necessary funds to construct a permanent church. Having numerous little mission parishes without proper facilities, and a full time priest, is counterproductive to the overall goal of a mission, because the witness it gives to the community at large is one of disunity among the Orthodox, and the promotion of the commonly held view that we are multiple denominations.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday December 31, 2018 / December 18, 2018
32nd Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Martyr Sebastian at Rome and his companions: Martyrs Nicostratus, Zoe, Castorius, Tranquillinus, Marcellinus, Mark, Claudius, Symphorian, Victorinus, Tiburtius, and Castulus (287).
Martyr Victor (1937).
New Hieromartyr Thaddeus (Uspensky), archbishop of Tver (1937).
New Hieromartyrs Nicholas archbishop of Velikoustiuzh, James, John, Vladimir, and Nicholas priests (1937).
New Hieromartyr Sergius deacon and Virgin-martyr Vera (1942).
Venerable Sebastian, abbot of Poshekhonye Monastery (Vologda) (1500).
Glorification (1694) of Righteous Simeon, wonderworker of Verkhoturye (1642).
St. Modestus I, archbishop of Jerusalem (4th c.).
Venerable Florus, bishop of Amisus (7th c.).
Venerable Michael the Confessor at Constantinople (845).
Martyr Eubotius at Cyzicus (318).
Venerable Winnibald, abbot and missionary of England and Heidenheim (Germany) (761) (Celtic & British).
Hieromartyr Zaccheus the Deacon and St. Alpheus the Reader of Caesarea (Greek).
St. Gatianus, first bishop of Tours (3rd c.).
St. Sophia the Wonderworker (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

James 2:14-26

Faith Without Works Is Dead

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Mark 9:42-10:1

Jesus Warns of Offenses

42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

Tasteless Salt Is Worthless

49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

Marriage and Divorce

10 Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. The problem as I see it is that the church is very nationalist and prideful. There shouldn’t be be a Russian Orthodox Church or a Greek Orthodox Church or an Antiochian Orthodox Church, etc. There should only be the Orthodox Church in Russia, the Orthodox Church in Greece, the Orthodox Church in Antioch and the Orthodox Church in America, etc. I’ve walked into for example, a Russian Orthodox Church in the USA where much of the service was not in English and virtually everyone was foreign and speaking a different language. I felt like I was in a different country and that I was not welcome. This nationalism has got to stop.

    1. I had a similar experience at a Greek Orthodox Church. I was asked flat out if I was Greek. When I said, “no,” the response was, “then why are you here?” The priest seemed very disinterested in me and at one point, he rolled his eyes as I spoke to him. I found a Western Rite Orthodox church not too far from where I live. There were no such questions about my nationality, as most of the congregation were converts. The priest was very welcoming and invited me to come back. I have been attending this church ever since. I can only image how many other seekers of the Orthodox church being turned off or turned away by the nationalistic churches.

      1. Yes, I had the same thing happen to me, I was asked if i was Greek by a man in the church, I said no and got this weird look, like why are you here then dummy. People were very cold an people came to visit an then left an never came back.
        I really don’t think they have any inclination that this greives the Holy Spirit.
        I need to visit an American English speaking Orthodox Church.

    2. I can so relate to your experience.
      I have gone to a Greek Orthodox church for 2 years. Part of the Liturgy is in Greek, what is really sad is the Greek speaking Orthodox people (which are not very many) throw a fit if theres not enough Greek used. They all can speak English, but they say they just like the Greek. I have often thought what a grevious way to be, like they don’t even care that there are people right there in their midst that they are holding back the word of God from. They simply don’t care and are quite arrogant about it. But you know what? God cares. The Holy Spirit cares. Our Lord Jesus Christ cares. Many people don’t come back to the church after a visit or two. How will they answer for this?

  2. Abbot, how do you propose we can accomplish this? I love the concept of an American Orthodox culture and identity, but sometimes it seems as if there is no guidance from bishops or leaders in the local parish in what this might look like. Often I see these discussions devolve into praise of the intrinsic holiness of the Old Country or how lost the US is.

  3. If a priest turns one away for ethnic reasons I am afraid that it may be an excuse for him not to deal with serious inquirers of Orthodox Christianity because he is more comfortable in the role of a tribal witch doctor. I have seen something similar happen to people interested in Roman Catholicism, except that the priest has no ethnicity to hide behind and he is brushing off inquirers usually because they are more serious about the Lord than the priest possibly is.
    I have never experienced this brush-off in any ROCOR or OCA church, but it helps that I speak Russian, though poorly.
    It may be too much to ask at the moment for majority immigrant parishes to adopt all English since many parishoners had been through a lot of trauma regarding their faith in their home countries as well as additional hardships in their new countries of residence…the old country services in their old country toungue would be a kind of lifeline.

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