Our nation needs unity between Christianity and the secular state
The great divide between the secular state and the Christian faith has grown substantially during my lifetime. Gone are the days when our nation was based on Christian values and where religion played an important role in the public life of this country. The notion that we must separate Church and State has gained such momentum as to have emboldened Christianophobia. It was never the intent of the Founding Fathers for religion to be kept quiet and forced into the back streets of our nation’s political life. Rather, they simply intended that no one religion would gain the status of a State Church.
We are seeing increasing attacks by avowed atheists, bent on ending the public display of Christian symbols. Books being written by atheists, along with public mocking of the beliefs of Christians as being myths, has become more and more militant. The atheists have turned their radical beliefs into a form of religious bigotry. In their attacks on Christians, they’ve turned atheism into a militant form of religion, with the demand that it become a sort of state church, not unlike that which happened during the militant atheism of the Soviet Union.
The response of Christians can not be to simply surrender, for this is truly a wholesale assault on Christianity. We will not tolerate attacks on Judaism or Islam, yet our government and judicial institutions are allowing slanderous attacks on the beliefs of millions of Christians. This will continue until we Christians decide enough is enough. We must stand firm in our witness to Christ, and take hold of our constitutional right for free expression of our faith, including the right to bear witness in the public square.
If our nation is to justly care for her poor and disenfranchised, Christians must be allowed to continue to influence our governmental and legal institutions in the light of the teachings of Christ. The separation of religion from the public square is breeding defeat, and undermining the very values that have made our nation strong. As a people, we must put aside our focus on consumption and personal comfort. We must put an end to the selfish me-first hedonism that has become the norm, and reclaim the moral and biblical values that have made our country great.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that much of American protestant Christianity has itself become secularized. In an attempt to become more relevant in today’s culture, many of them have lost the leaven that transforms lives and makes a difference in how the greater culture around us sees religion. We’ve lost our way as a nation because the majority of our denominations have lost the pure essence of Christianity.
While this has happened, American Orthodoxy has been caught up in trying to preserve ethnic centered communities. We’ve failed to reach out with the same power and authority that drove our forefathers in the faith. Satisfied with doing the services correctly, and meeting the social and religious needs of our people, we’ve forsaken our duty to the greater culture around us. We’ve betrayed our biblical calling to transform the society around us with the leaven that resides within the Church. We’ve failed to reach out to the society around us, and infuse the American culture with the transformational power of the Orthodox Church. Focusing on the preservation of our ethnic enclaves, we’ve betrayed the dynamic faith that once infused whole nations, such as Greece and Russia, with an Orthodox culture that brought healing to pagan lands, and the Light of Christ to people previously lost.
With love in Christ,
Sunday October 11, 2020 / September 28, 2020
18th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone one.
Synaxis of All Saints Who Shone Forth in the Spanish and Portuguese Lands (movable holiday on the Sunday before September 29th).
Venerable Chariton the Confessor, abbot of Palestine (350).
Venerables Cyril, schemamonk and Maria, schemanun (1337) (parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh).
Uncovering of the relics of St. Elizabeth Romanov (1918).
Martyress Anna (1925).
New Martyr Hilarion, Virgin-martyr Michaela (1937).
Virgin-martyr Tatiana (1942).
Synaxis of the Saints of the Kievan Caves Monastery, venerated in the near caves of Venerable Anthony: Anthony the Founder (1073) – Prochorus the Gardener and Wonderworker (1107) – John the Faster (12th c.) – Juliana the Virgin, Princess of Ol’shansk (c.1550) – Monkmartyrs Basil and Theodore (1098) – Polycarp, Archimandrite of the Kievan Caves (1182) – Varlaam, Abbot of the Kievan Caves (1065) – Damian the Presbyter and Healer (1071) – Nicodemus the Prosphora-baker (12th c.) – Lawrence the Hermit, Bishop of Turov (12th C) – Athanasius the Hermit (c.1176) – Gerasim the Black-Robed (12th c.) – Luke, Steward of the Kievan Caves (13th c.) – Agapit the Unmercenary Physician (c.1095) – Theophilus the Clear-sighted and John the God-pleasing (12th c.) – Nectarios (12th c.) – Gregory the Iconographer (12th c.) – Hieromartyr Kuksha, Enlightener of the Vyati (12th c.) – Alexis the Hermit (13th c.) – Sava the God-pleasing (13th c.) – Sergius the Obedient (13th c.) – Mercurius, Bishop of Smolensk (1239) – Pimen the Muchailing (1110) – Nestor the Chronicler (c.1114) – Monkmartyr Evstratius (1097) – Elladius the Hermit (12th-13th c.) – Jeremiah the Clairvoyant (11th c.) – Monkmartyr Moses the Hungarian (c.1031-1043) – John the Much-ailing (1160) – Mark the Grave-Digger (12th c.) – Nikola Svyatosha, Prince of Chernigov (1143) – Martyr Gregory the Wonderworker (1093) – Onysimus the Hermit (12th-13th c.) – Matthew the Clairvoyant (11th c.) – Isaiah the Wonderworker (1115) – Abraham the Lover of Labor (12th-13th c.) – Niphont, Bishop of Novgorod (1156) – Sylvester the Wonderworker (12th c.) – Pimen the Faster (12th c.) – Onuphrius the Silent (12th c.) – Anatolius the Hermit (12th c.) – Alipy the Iconographer (1114) – Sisois the Hermit (12th-13th c.) – Theophilus the Hermit (12th-13th c.) – Arethas the Hermit (c.1195) – Spiridon the Prosphora-baker (12th c.) – Onysiphorus the Confessor (1148) – Simon, Bishop of Suzdal (12th c.) – Nikon, Abbot of Kievan Caves (1088) – Theophan the Faster (12th c.) – Macarius (12th c.) – Monkmartyr Anastasius the Deacon (12th c.) – 12 Master Architects (11th c.) – Abraham the Hermit (12th-13th c.) – Isaac the Hermit (c.1190) – Martyr John the Infant (11th-12th c.) – Elias of Murom (c.1188) – Nikon the Lean (12th c.) – Ephraim, Bishop of Pereyaslavl’ (c.1098) – Tito the Hieromonk (1190).
Venerable Chariton, monk, of Syanzhema Lake (Vologda) (1509).
Venerable Herodion, abbot, of Iloezersk (1541).
Prophet Baruch (6th c. B.C.).
Martyrs Alexander, Alphius, Zosimas, Mark, Nicon, Neon, Heliodorus, and 24 others in Pisidia and Phrygia (4th c.).
Martyrdom of St. Wenceslaus, prince of the Czechs (935).
St. Juliana, Princess of Olshansk.
Martyr Eustace of Rome (Greek).
St. Faustus, bishop of Riez (495).
St. Leoba, abbess of Bischofsheim, English missionary to Germany (779).
St. Alkison, bishop of Nicopolis (Preveza) in Epirus (561).
St. Auxentius the Alaman, Wonderworker of Cyprus (12th c.).
St. Neophytus the Recluse of Cyprus (1214) (Cypriote).
St. Machan, disciple of St. Cadoc.
The Scripture Readings
The Empty Tomb
20 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
The Cheerful Giver
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
Four Fishermen Called as Disciples
5 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
2 Corinthians 4:6-15
6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Cast Down but Unconquered
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Jesus Heals a Great Multitude
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.