Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio

This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small mission community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!

The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.

We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!

Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM

We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible!

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ Be With You!

We find the words in this title in the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians.  There in closing his epistle to them he conveys the blessing—”The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen!”  They’re powerful words, and we echo them at every Divine Liturgy as we come to the Anaphora.  They are words that come again to us in the Gospel lesson for the Second Sunday of the Gospel of St. Luke.
In this Gospel (Luke 6:31-36) we find Jesus teaching and healing all those who sought after Him.  And in His teaching, Jesus shows the love of God for His creation, for before we encounter the words of today’s Gospel, Jesus explains to those who have come to Him, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.  And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you.  And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.”  What a preface for what then comes in the balance of the Gospel lesson!
For in this lesson, God’s love for us is fully revealed.  It requires us to become students—to desire with all of our hearts to seek and to understand the Lord’s teaching, and how He intends for us to use that teaching to change not only us as His followers, His disciples, but how then He expects that we will change the world by the degree to which we follow Him!
In this reading Jesus says to us, “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”  Here is where we as students must emerge.  “What credit?”  What does Jesus mean?  Is He referring to accounts in some fashion?  Is He saying that our love to others for whom love may seem undeserved earns us “points” with God?  Well, to a certain extent you could make such an argument, and not be wrong.  But to truly be a student, we must dig deeper. 
You see, the word used for “credit” in Greek is χάρις, (cha’-ris), which translates as credit in our translation, as thanks in some others, but carries that very much deeper meaning, that of grace!  Yes, it’s the same word used by St. Paul in 2Cor 14 and referenced in this article’s title.
Jesus is saying to us, “What grace do you receive if you behave as ‘regular people’ behave?”  Grace is that which comes from God, that which in and of itself is Godly.  And so when we show love to those for whom the world would say that they are undeserving, we are showing ourselves to have received the grace of God in our baptisms, to be living the grace of God through our participation in Christ’s Body and Blood, and to be seeking yet greater grace of God through following where our own Master has already led us.  For we know no greater love that that which Jesus showed from the Cross, as He prayed to the Father, “Forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Saint John records these words in his Gospel, “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)  It is by loving the unlovable, by caring for those whose hate can only be defeated by showing the power of love, by not forcing ourselves but by desiring with all our being to live that life that our Lord has already shown us as His perfect example of how He has taught us that we should also live, it is by all of these that we truly become His disciples.
The world will tell you you’re crazy.  Just recognize that as they to convince you of this, they too need to feel God’s love—through someone as radical as you and me, if we can find it in our hearts to live the lives our Lord has called us to live, lives that conform to the example He has shown us, to walk as He has walked.  
For I don't know about you, but I don't deserve His love - and yet I know with all certainty that it is there! And as He loves me, the unloveable, he calls me to love all others.  All!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Why Is There Always a "But....."?

The Gospel for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost presents our Lord returning to the valley after being on Mt. Tabor with Peter, James and John.  We find the other nine Apostles embroiled in a “conversation” with a man who probably came for Jesus to heal his son, but since the Lord wasn’t with the nine, the man used the only resource available.
And, it wasn’t enough!
It’s not as if the man has NO faith.  St. Matthew records that he came before the Lord and knelt down before Him, addressing Jesus as “Lord”.  Certainly there must be some level of faith in the man.  He believed enough to bring his son.  He believed enough to TRY to acquire his desired healing through the nine Apostles, and he believed enough to address the Lord with a proper title.
So, where did he fail?
In so very many instances, when people have come to the Lord seeking His healing, they have not only exhibited faith, but they’ve backed it up—our Lord says to them clearly, “Be it done to you according to your faith.”  Jesus says it to the centurion who seeks healing for his servant (Mat 8:13).  He says it to the woman with the issue of blood (Mat 9:22), and later to the two blind men (Mat 9:29)  Clearly, Jesus is indicated to those around Him (and through them, to us) that our own faith is essential to our being granted the healing (spiritual or physical) that we seek.
The father of the boy fails because, even though he outwardly ascribes honor to the Lord, inwardly his faith is NOT sufficient, for if it were, the Holy Fathers teach that HIS faith could have enabled the Apostles to heal.
Instead, the man ascribes blame to the Apostles.  “I brought (my son) to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”  Inside of this statement are TWO measures of blame.  First, THEY (the Apostles) should have been able to help.  Second, if YOU (Jesus) picked better men, they could have helped.
It is from this encounter that one of my own favorite “spontaneous prayers” in Scripture is found.  Within the parallel account in the Gospel of St. Mark, the boy’s father is speaking with the Lord, and Jesus says to the man, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  To this, the man responds, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!”  The words have engendered similar prayerful words from many, including the Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, whose prayer ends with these words:  “Direct my will.  Teach me to pray.  Pray Yourself within me!”
Where’s the aforementioned “But....”?
All of our focus has been on faith.  BUT, Jesus tosses in another requirement.  When He explains to the Apostles WHY they were unable to help the boy (for they had clearly done similar things through the authority Jesus had given them), Jesus says, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Faith is essential.  BUT, faith is necessary, yet not sufficient.  It takes more.  One can do a lot of things with just a hammer.  BUT, one can’t build a building without a hammer AND a saw AND a plane, AND a nail AND…
Prayer is that which places us in the presence of God.  Fasting is that which places our soul above our body.  Prayer AND fasting elevates our spirits to that place where our faith can express our needs with the greatest fervor and clarity.  And there’s no BUT’s about that!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

"They Marveled and Glorified God....."

The word “magic” is oft misused.  We apply it to people who are skilled in an art form that uses human perception ‘prompts’ and causes a viewer to look away from where things are actually happening.  The word’s definition relates to ‘an art of influencing or predicting events and producing marvels using hidden natural forces.’  When a magician pulls a rabbit from his hat, we know the rabbit was NOT there at one point in time.  And yet we see the rabbit in the guy’s hand, extricating the rabbit from the hat!
On this Sixth Sunday after Pentecost in the Gospel from St. Matthew (Mat 9:1-8), our Lord has just departed from the Gadarenes, who asked Him to leave them because—well, simply put, He cost them money.  They choose their assets as more important than our Lord's healing a man possessed by many demons.  They valued pigs more than the man.
So Jesus comes home, and those who know Him and have faith in Him bring to Him a paralyzed man.  With no other prompting beyond the faith of those who bring the man to Him, our Lord dispenses at least three (3) healings.
He begins by saying to the man, “Be of good cheer! Your sins are forgiven you!”  The spiritual healing has been accomplished by the Word of God through the words spoken by our Lord.  Any sins the man had beforehand—they’re gone!  Abolished forever.  Just as OUR sins are gone when we confess them in faith through the sacrament of confession.
The second healing comes when our Lord knows that the scribes present are criticizing His use of the expression “forgiven”.  He lovingly encounters them.  “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”  Why are you filled with anger when you see a man healed?  Why are you enraged when you are witnesses to the power of God exhibited for the benefit of all, including you, right before your very eyes?  This miracle I am working on this man is also meant to heal you as well, if only you will align your hearts to see God’s mercy and love for all of mankind, even you who are doubters.
And so Jesus completes the man’s miracle.  “Arise!  Take up your bed.  Go home!!
And in the third miracle, the man simply gets up.  He cannot help but follow the instructions, filled with love as they are, of the Master.  He Who created all things has regenerated the impotent limbs of one whose body has been wracked by the evil of this world.  Yes, it relates to his sin, but also to the sin and the fallenness of the world around us.  His legs were useless because of disease.  God did not “create” disease in Genesis.  There is no phrase therein that says, “And God saw the disease, and it was good,” is there?!!  All that mankind shares as affliction is the result of our living in a world separated from God.  All sickness, sorrow and suffering are counter to His Divine will for us.  He allows them in our lives to point us towards that repentance that grants today's paralytic the first healing.  We, like him, seek to hear from our Lord's lips and directed towards us, "Be of good cheer!  Your sins are forgiven!"
Those who are witnesses to today’s miracle see it with eyes that perhaps are not focused on the real event.  They see the man walk.  They didn’t see his soul cleansed first.  The “rabbit” of his walking away belies the “empty hat” of his coming to our Lord in sin, and that being first forgiven by the Lover of mankind!
And so the crowd leaves, uttering their astonishment that God has given this kind of power “to men”, failing totally themselves to see that God stands before them as a Man, showing them the potential for which He created mankind.
“He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)  Yes, He is giving such power to men.  But it is HIS power, not man’s.  When it is exhibited, it is HIS WILL that is done, not man’s, if only we will seek His will first.  It's not 'magic' - it is answer to fervent prayer, forgiving of sins, and the love of God Who heals and forgives in His infinite love for us.