The Church is Our Nation

The Church’s purpose is to unite all men as one nation in Christ

When the Bolsheviks defeated Imperial Russia, the former government’s close ties with the Church led to the wholesale murder of countless bishops, priests, monastics, and faithful, all seen as an inseparable part of the government. The institution of the Church was seen as so closely tied to the former government, the new government sought to completely destroy the Church.

That said, we must also remember that the Church was seen as the enemy by the communists. Part of the reason the Czar was so hated by the Bolsheviks, was that he was Defender of the Faith, and a devout Orthodox believer, so the leaders of the Communist Party were determined to destroy any possibility of the Imperial Government being restored.

Political movements devoid of the Christian Faith, as we’ve seen in England, Greece, and the Scandinavian countries, cause some believers to think we need to restore the institution of State Churches, but this can backfire. Those countries that kept their State Churches are almost all now anything but Christian nations. When you have parliaments dictating that women serve as priests and bishops, and same-sex marriages be performed by these churches, is it any wonder we’ve seen a drastic decline in church membership?

It is times like these that we must reexamine the true image of just what the Church is, and embrace her as she was meant to be. When we behold the Church in the light of how the Church sees herself, we realize as Christians, our true nation is not the country of our birth, but the Church herself. We Orthodox Christians belong to Christ and His Church. Our true nation is therefore the Church.

Whether we are Americans, Russians, Greeks, or Norwegians, by birth, our second birth in baptism has made us members of the nation of Orthodoxy. I am an American by my first birth, but in baptism my nation is Orthodoxy, and I am of one nation with all Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

This unity of Faith is based on a personal relationship with Christ, Who is the head of His Church. Our true nationality is not based on political ideology, be it democratic, socialist, or monarchical, but on our common baptism that has united us to Christ, and to each other as the Body of Christ, the Church.

Saint Justin Popovitch wrote, “The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy — an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Spirit — to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata”.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: Our first snow of the season.

Thursday January 16, 2020 / January 3, 2020
31st Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Sviatki. Fast-free
Forefeast of the Theophany.
Prophet Malachias (400 B.C.).
Martyr Gordius at Caesarea in Cappadocia (314).
New Hieromartyr Basil Kolmogorov priest (1938).
St. Genevieve of Paris (512).
Venerable Abelard, abbot.
Finding of the relics of New Monk-martyr Ephraim of Nea Makri, in 1950 (Greek).
St. Peter of Atroa (837).
St. Thomais of Lesbos (10th c.).
Venerable Euthymius (Taqaishvili) the Man of God of Tbilisi (1953).
St. Findlugan of Islay (7th c.) (Celtic & British).

The Scripture Readings

James 1:19-27

Qualities Needed in Trials

19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Doers—Not Hearers Only

21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Mark 12:38-44

Beware of the Scribes

38 Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

The Widow’s Two Mites

41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

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.

7 comments:

  1. ” For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29

    Blest day, Father.

  2. “The institution of the Church was seen as so closely tied to the former government, the new government sought to completely destroy the Church.”
    I’m sure that was part of it. But, communism is based on fanatic atheism and a total rejection of God. Don’t the Russian Orthodox refer to communists as the ‘God fighters’? I’m sure that Godlessness played a major part in their hatred and murder. One can be angry and even kill a political opponent, but the enemy of a fanatic must be punished and utterly destroyed.
    But, to your point I agree totally. I have seen the effects that nationalism or ethnic pride have had on the church. In my own church (a pan orthodox OCA) there are really two separate congregations. There are those who identify the church as part of their ethnic/cultural heritage and there are the local converts. It is very sad, but they don’t interact much at all. How can we overcome this?

    1. Perhaps the division of ethnic/cultural heritage and the local converts is a local situation. I say this because I am a convert and know others as well, who are most welcome and included in their new faith and parish. Perhaps there are some who have their own silent opinions, however I am not aware of them at all. Just a thought…..God bless!

      1. Maria,
        I didn’t mean to imply there were hostilities between the two groups at all. Everyone is friendly -at least superficially. The problem is the two groups are rather cliquish and don’t socialize much. There are exceptions of course, but I am speaking in generalities. A language barrier may be some of the issue. What I have gathered from talking to others from parishes in different parts of the country, is that this is not uncommon, especially in parishes outside of large cities. My concern is how do we overcome this? How can we get people to stop seeing the Church as just an extension of their ethnicity identity?

  3. Thy Kingdom Come; They Will Be Done – On Earth As It Is In Heaven” – how can we believe and live these holy words of Jesus if we do not transcend the immediate earthly practices to become one with God – in His Kingdom, not this earthly kingdom. I simply can’t bear the thought that our Church is an Earthly National Church but instead a Heavenly Nation – the Kingdom of God. What realm are these people in who seem to work day and night to change and ultimately destroy the Church? Shouldn’t we keep our thoughts on high to God and not allow them to drag our thoughts and actions down into the bowels of the earth? I say bowels because they are trying to bring us very far down into murky realms of foulness whereas God is calling us and lifting us up to Him in the highest of realms – scented with purity, love and peace for all eternity! We must do everything to keep them out and especially out of our Divine Liturgy where the holy angels are present and the Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence is sustaining us.

    I hope my comment is understandable; thankyou and God bless…..

  4. Dear Father,
    Thank you for your blog which I try to read daily.
    May I ask you to please pray for my son, Spencer, who is homeless and ill and very depressed? He needs the hope of Christ in his heart but I cannot seem to penetrate it with a mother’s love…
    Thank you,
    Debbie

  5. Dear Father,
    Thank you for your blog which I read daily.
    May I ask you to pray for my son, Spencer, who is homeless, ill, and depressed? He is in despair and has no hope in Christ. As his mother, I cannot seem to penetrate his heart with His love either.
    Thank you so much,
    Debbie

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