Why Orthodox Christians Celebrate the New Year on the First of September

The first day of September is celebrated as the Ecclesiastical or Church New Year by Orthodox Christians. It is also a day marked by prayers for the environment, reminding us to be good stewards of the world around us. So This is the New Year? The old Roman term for this day is Indictio, meaning “definition” or “order.”  This was a day established as the beginning of a fifteen year cycle, marking the redefinition of tax…

How Are They to Believe in Him of Whom They Have Never Heard?

Since the very beginning, the apostolic, Orthodox Church has maintained focus on preaching the Gospel to every tribe, nation, and language. Translation of the faith for every culture was a concern even in the first century, and the Orthodox tradition is replete with examples of this well-placed zeal. And yet, for many Orthodox Christians in the so-called “diaspora” today, this zeal is all but lost. Replaced with an unhealthy focus on ethnicity, transitory…

Gospel Meditations on the Cross: John

Authority Each of the Gospel accounts, in one way or another uses the Crucifixion scene to communicate that Jesus is the true King of all. Yet, John takes a particular interest in the authority of Jesus during his trial and all the way through his death. This theme at the Cross is not new to John’s Gospel. In fact, he begins his Gospel declaring Jesus’ Godhood. (John 1:1) Still, John the Theologian…

Great and Holy Friday: The Death of God

Jesus died. What sort of a eulogy could be given for such a man? What sort of obituary could possibly be written? Here lies one homeless man, without a wife, without children, with no employer, with no college degrees. He has no articles published. He has written no books. His own countrymen are the ones who rejected him and gave him up to death. Those who followed him for awhile, abandoned him. He’s…

Gospel Meditations on the Cross: Luke

The Righteousness of God Having been a missionary companion (Acts 16:10), and disciple of the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 4:11), Luke reflects Pauline concerns, themes and emphases in his writing (Luke-Acts). One such theme is an emphasis on the Gospel of the Messiah of Israel reaching the Gentiles (Luke 2:14, 31-32, 4:26-27). The Lordship of Jesus over/for the Gentiles is not merely an addendum to God’s work for Israel. What God did…

Gospel Meditations on the Cross: Mark

Returning the World to God In the Bible, there is a genre called apocalyptic literature. A dominant feature of apocalyptic literature is that it uses vivid imagery to reveal (the word apocalypse means revelation) a greater sense of purpose and reality to an event. Often times these revelations include astronomical phenomena that are meant to point to, not mainly to the event itself, but rather, what is happening on Earth. It is…

Annunciation and Choosing Life

Recent statistics indicate that about half of all pregnancies in America are “unintended,” and of those, four out of ten end in abortion. Perhaps most disturbingly, over 70% of women involved in an abortion report some sort of religious affiliation. In the Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Great Feast of Annunciation on March 25. Without coincidence, this occurs nine months before the Great Feast of Nativity or Christmas. In the Annunciation, we celebrate not only…

Gospel Meditations on the Cross: Matthew

God’s Pleasure in Jesus At the beginning of Jesus’ adult appearance in the Gospel of Matthew, his Father in heaven, the God of Israel, voices his pleasure in Jesus at his baptism saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17b) (A similar Divine witness is borne at our Lord’s Transfiguration. [Matthew 17:5b]) This experience as written serves, for our meditation today, a threefold function for the…