A Polemical Faith

Polemics has a rather bad name—perhaps not surprisingly, since it comes from the Greek word polemos, meaning “war”. Some people in particular are distressed when they see in Christian writers anything polemical or negative. Why, they ask, do these Christian writers have to denounce certain trends and ideas? Can’t we all just be positive, upbeat, and encouraging? After all, Jesus preached a Gospel of love. Can’t we just speak about things that…

A Continuing Kenosis

Our Lord’s baptism, though it formed the beginning of His public ministry when He first stepped upon the world stage (and thus was the first thing narrated in Mark’s Gospel, which focussed upon that verifiable and public ministry) was not the beginning of His descent among us, nor the end of it. Rather, His baptism was the middle movement of that descent, the second in a dramatic play of three kenotic acts.…

King Herod and the True Meaning of Christmas

Having observed the annual round of Christmas festivities in my culture for all of my sixty-three odd years, I have come to the conclusion that my culture knows absolutely nothing about the true meaning of Christmas. And this is not just because they have completely forgotten about Christ apart from the two times of the year when they publish articles in their newspapers and magazines waging war against Him (i.e. debunking the…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: The Dismissal

In the Divine Liturgy, after the faithful have received Holy Communion, the service draws to its close. In the early Church, after a final thanksgiving for Holy Communion, the deacon simply announced the end of the service by giving the people one final direction, such as, “Let us depart in peace”, to which the people responded, “In the Name of the Lord” or with something similar. Everyone then went home. There was…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: The Anaphora

Next in this commentary series we examine the Anaphora, which is a Greek word meaning “offering” (the verb form is used in Leviticus 17:5, for example, where it describes the offering of sacrifice). It is a long prayer, punctuated by a number of “Amens”. It begins with the celebrant’s blessing “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: The Peace and the Creed

Next in this commentary series on the Divine Liturgy I would like examine the Peace and the Creed. The liturgical exchange of the Peace (or “the holy Kiss” to use more ancient terminology) goes back to the very earliest possible time. St. Paul ends both of his epistles to the Corinthians by telling them to “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12), as he also does…