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!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Water Is Important!

Christ is Risen!

Today is the eve of the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, the Feast of the Holy Church which calls to our attention the fact that one half of the time between Pascha and Pentecost has now passed.  The Holy Spirit will come soon to establish the Church, to make it "firm" and secure for all time!

This past Sunday we commemorated our Lord's healing of the paralytic at the Sheep's Pool - at Bethesda (which in Hebrew means 'house of kindness').  It was there that divine healing could be found for those in need if they entered the waters "when they became troubled," or when by tradition an angel was sent to stir those waters.

In the Gospel reading for this current day (John 7:14-30) we find our Lord having moved from Bethesda to the Temple, "in the middle of the Feast."  This was the Feast of Tabernacles, which which the Jews celebrate each year to remember God's provision for them as they wandered in the desert for forty years, but also to look ahead to the day when God would restore the nation to Israel, and all would gather at Jerusalem to worship God in truth.

It is with this backdrop that we find our Lord ''teaching" the teachers of Israel, to such a great extent does Jesus teach them that they are astonished.  "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"  Our Lord engages His detractors, accusing them of seeking to kill Him, and they in turn accusing Him of "having a demon."  

The One who fed them in the desert stands before them, and they refuse to recognize or acknowledge Him.  The One who promised to return them to Jerusalem speaks with them, and they deny Him and make accusations against Him - even as they celebrate a feast to 'honor' Him.

Several verses after the end of today's Gospel, but still in Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Saint John, our Lord says these words:  "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink."

This coming Sunday will be the commemoration of the Samaritan woman, where our Lord meets St. Photini at Jacob's well.  There He asks her for water, and then promises to her (and delivers to her) "living water."

On the following Sunday we will remember the blind man (Bartameus), who receives his sight by washing "in the pool of Siloam."

We have incidents of water, and water, and water, and water.  Why?

Because we, like the Apostles in these days who were waiting (and being prepared by our Lord) for the Holy Spirit, will come to our "baptisms", will come to receiving the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which comes to us by water and prayer and anointing, which came to the Apostles by the descent of tongues of fire, and which fills the Church with LIFE.

One thing is constant for all that we know of life.  Life cannot exist without water.  That is physical life.  That is temporal life.

But eternal life also must be filled with the water of the Spirit of God, must be founded in that which is the creative force of God, His eternal Spirit, linking us to Him so that we share in His eternal nature.

Water is important! At this 'feast' of Mid-Pentecost, the Church (in Her love for us and in Her wisdom) gives us the repeated gift of focusing us on that 'living water' that our Lord promised - not only to St. Photini (the Samaritan Woman), but to His Bride, the Church, for all time!

Christ is Risen!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fear

Pascha, the Lord's Resurrection, is now more than a week behind us.  The Great and Holy Fast set aside for us a time in which we might live "in Christ," a time in which our fasting brought us near to Him (by bringing us OUT of the world), but also a time when, through the rigorous ecclesiastical schedule, we were literally "with Him" more frequently.  It was and is a time for us to develop a sense of connectedness to Him as something necessary, as something normal, as part of our daily routine.

Now we are out of that season.  But does that mean that we must return to "things as usual"?  Perhaps the church isn't open for services today, but does that mean that we cannot or should not remain (by prayer, by reading scripture, by reading from the Fathers) connected with our Lord?

Here we sit, on the Tuesday after Bright Week.  The Apostles have seen the risen Lord.  Even Thomas no longer has doubt in the fact of Christ's Resurrection.  As the Lord came to the Apostles this past Sunday, Saint John records that He greeted them by saying, "Peace be with you," that He "breathed upon them," and instructed them to "receive the Holy Spirit."  Clearly as our Lord did this, the Spirit did not at once enter the eleven.  That is yet to come, on the day of Pentecost, weeks from now.

And so to a certain extent, the eleven still live in fear of the Jews and the Romans.  They remain "off the grid" so to speak.  There are no public gatherings in which they speak to other followers of our Lord.  There remains a certain level of fear.

So, what is it that changes in them on that 50th day after the Resurrection?  Yes, of course, they received the Holy Spirit.  But they themselves had to change.  They had to recognize God's plan for them.  They had to come to expect what lay ahead for them, and for the Church - a life lived no less sacrificially than was our Lord's life.

Imagine, twelve men sent into the world to change it fundamentally forever!  The world has spears and swords, by the legions.  The twelve have words, and love.  In the wisdom of the world, the later could never overcome the former.  And yet, "the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God." (1Cor 3:19)

After receiving the Holy Spirit, the eleven (who became twelve again) indeed set out and conquered the whole world.  And the faithful whom they taught continued their conquests, even up to this very day, so that all throughout the world might hear the Gospel of our Lord.

In our times, we fear too many things.  We fear economic disaster, pandemics, super-volcanoes, earthquakes, nuclear disaster, nuclear war, terrorism, ....  The list seems endless.  But what is there truly to fear, except for our own being found to be faithless when our Lord returns?  If I perish in this life today or if I perish in this life 30 years from today, I will perish in this life.  What must concern me is not this life, but rather life eternal, and not being found "among the goats" on that day!

There is nothing in this life that we should fear except for living a life in which we reject our Lord.  For there is no threat in this life that can touch us in eternity, as long as we live a life according to His commandments, loving God above all, loving neighbor as self, laying up treasures in heaven which cannot be taken from us!

As we do this, His peace truly fills us.  There is no room for fear.  There is only Christ crucified and risen!  There is nothing more we need know or embrace than this!