Adam begins a multi-part series on the Becoming Truly Human outreach ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese by talking with the one of the key original leaders, Charles Ajalat. Charles shares why we need this ministry and how it can benefit your parish.
“Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ” Romans 1:5-6
What do you think St. Paul means by “we”? Clearly he was stating that all Orthodox Christians are called to apostleship. And what is this apostleship we are called to?It means we are all called to the missionary work of the church. Some may think that is the work of Saints and clergy only. However, St. Paul is making this clear. The apostleship, received through Jesus Christ, is intended for all of us.
The Orthodox Church always has been, since the day of Pentecost, a missionary church, called to share the gospel with “all nations.” We are all called to this, both in our words and actions. Are you embracing this apostleship given through Him? Can we truly be Orthodox Christians without being missionary?
Sometimes I feel bad saying this, but Ascension has become my favorite feast. I still appreciate Pascha for what it is. However, what would Pascha be without the Ascension? Have you ever considered that? Christ’s Ascension completes his earthly ministry.
Also, at the Ascension of Jesus Christ we receive our marching orders. For the previous three years Jesus taught us how to make disciples, by being a servant in the name of the Lord. Now we are called to do the same.
Have you heard people who say they are not Christians say things which sound Christian? There is a precedent for this.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. (Acts 10:44-46)
Recently I was talking with someone who was not a Christian. It was easy for me to assume that I could teach her a thing or two. I was wrong. I was the one needing the lesson, because as she began to share how she views the world I realized that she had a real grasp on what she needed. Even though she is not ready for Orthodoxy, she realizes her need for truth and spiritual medicine. I realized my need for humility.
Truth is pervasive. Every person has a piece of truth within them. If we pay attention, then we can see how every person was made in the image and likeness of God. That is where these Christian sayings comes from.
The epistle reading this morning at my church was from Acts 6 concerning the first ordination of deacons. Some think that deacons are no longer needed. However please consider this passage from Fr Alexander Schmemann.
“We can already note that if in our day the presence of a deacon in every church community has ceased to be perceived as necessary and self-evident, as one of the conditions of the fullness of church life…then is that not because the experience of the Church herself as the love of Christ and the liturgy as the expression of fulfillment of that love has been weakened in us, if not entirely dissipated?” (p. 108, The Eucharist)
In short, if we do not see deacons as a necessary part of the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church, then Fr Schmemann wonders if our love for the body of Christ has weakened or dissipated. Do you have a deacon at your church? Is he doing the work of the ministry according to Acts, or is he just a liturgical helper?
More often than not, deacons who have been reduced to the sole function of liturgical helpers are usually being held back by their priest. Prayer is probably the best answer in this scenario. On the other side, not all deacons are ready and equipped for the type of ministry a particular parish needs help with. Again, prayer is the answer to discern God’s will for that deacon.
Last year I was approached by Alexei Krindatch, the Research Coordinator for the Assembly of Bishops, to be a part of the first national study on evangelism and outreach in Orthodox churches of the United States. The study was initiated and sponsored by the Committee for Agencies and Endorsed Organizations (Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, Chairman).
We collected data from about from several jurisdictions, ten parishes each. I was also asked to write a special chapter evaluating the evangelistic nature of the parish websites.
Most people miss the epistle reading on Pascha. That’s okay, I miss a lot myself during services. The epistle reading was about something called the Great Commission. In a nutshell, it means that if I really care about Orthodox Christianity, then I must help others care. Here is the end of the epistle reading:
“Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)
Are you an Orthodox Christian? If so, then “the Holy Spirit has come upon you” and God expects you to be His witness. In the next post we will talk about what this looks like in life and why it was read at Pascha.
When I found out I was contagious, I had to start rethinking all my actions, words, and thoughts. Not contagious with a virus or bacterial infection, but rather my attitude.
This week we are called to be contagious with our joy. Jesus has risen from the dead, conquering death by death. Is my joy over this feat contagious? Or, am I still going through the motions? We are all contagious, all sharing different attitudes. Is your apathy showing, or are people seeing your joy? This week above all others, your joy should be contagious. Looking for an easy way to get started? If so, then try on more smiles for the next few days.
Adam continues the parenting discussion in this episode with Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth, pastor of Holy Transfiguration in Warrenville, IL. In this episode, they discuss respect, reverence, and worship. Listen in as we hear some theory and theology behind the claims made in the previous episode and also how we can teach these three words to our children.