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!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Living Water


Christ is Risen!

We don’t often think about it in such terms, but our day-to-day lives are governed by a presumption that tomorrow will be mostly like today.  I’ll awake in the morning.  I’ll have coffee and lunch, read the news, get angry at traffic.  Nothing much will change.
We take a certain comfort in this common-placeness of our daily lives.
And we don’t often think about our lives in terms of beginning, middle and end.  We don’t remember our beginnings (thank God!).  Our “middles” are muddled with revisionist-history versions of what really happened, revisions to make us feel better about ourselves, I guess. 
And our ends….  We don’t give much thought to our ends.  After performing or participating in a myriad of funerals over the years, one comes (as clergy) to recognize that funeral services are not for the departed, but rather for the living.  “You are going to be here where you see your loved one or friend, and it is coming sooner than you think.”
But that sobering message is very often ignored by those who come to honor the departed, and who refuse to see themselves in his or her position.
St. Photini today goes to Jacob’s well to draw water.  It is a daily activity for those in Sychar, or indeed in any town in Samaria or Israel.  Water is needed to sustain life.  Drawing the water was not an easy task, not like for us who get it by the twist of a wrist.  We get it clean (mostly), hot or cold at our choice.  On demand, so we can ask for only what we need.
In St. Photini’s time, she would no doubt come to draw enough for the day.  A heavy bucket-full would need to be pulled by rope from the depths of the well, poured into a vessel, repeat.  And then the vessel would be carried from the well “back home.”  It was difficult—one might even go so far as to saying back breaking.  In the account in the Gospel of St. John of the Wedding at Cana, the waterpots are written of as “containing 20 or 30 gallons each.”  Even ignoring the weight of a stone pot, 20 gallons of water weighs about 170 pounds.
No doubt St. Photini is not carrying a pot this big, but you get the idea.
When Jesus asks her for a drink, He opens the flood gates (pun intended) for her to speak with Him about—water!  In the discourse the Lord tells her plainly, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
Water that is alive.  Water than not only sustains the life you have, but water that renews the life you have, water that through baptism gives you birth into a new life, eternal life, water that will sustain you for eternity.  Yes, certainly it is water that would remove your need to carry heavy pots home daily.  But that’s the least of the water’s properties.  Jesus promises her water that “will become a fountain springing up into everlasting life.”
In our modern world, we don’t ever think of such water, any more than we think about the issue of the end of our life.  This is to our spiritual detriment, for without giving thought to that Day when we will stand before the Lord, we can’t find in ourselves St. Photini’s ability to face our sins, to recognize that He knows us along with our sins, to drive us to the place where we confess our sins and face Him now, while we can, before that Day comes and it’s too late.
She drops her water bottle at the well and runs to her townsfolk.  “Come see a Man Who told me all things I ever did.”  She becomes one of the first to evangelize.
She is rewarded by being forgiven, and with becoming one who carried His word to the world.
St. Photini knew that her end would come, and she reconciled with the Lord with time to spare. And she claimed that living water as her own.



Friday, May 17, 2019

The Shepherd At The Sheep's Gate


Christ is Risen!
This Sunday's Gospel reading is from St. John (5:1-15) related to the paralytic at Bethesda.

By Your Divine intercession, O Lord,
As You raised up the paralytic of old, 
So raise up my soul, paralyzed by sins and thoughtless acts,
So that being saved, I may sing to You:
"Glory to Your majesty, O Bountiful Christ!"

(Kontakion of the Feast)

The One Who knows the hearts of men, Who knows the contents of our very soul, Who knows the good and bad about each of us, it is He who comes to the pool of Bethesda on this day and poses what has to be viewed as a most improbable question.
“Do you want to be made well?”
Who could ask such a question.  The God Man Christ knows that this man had been in this condition (as St. John records) for thirty-eight years.  How could He ask such a thing?
But we, who read the Gospels, must know that our God has His reason for every action, every word that He came to leave as a gift to us.
What reasons could there be for what we encounter in this particular portion of Scripture?
Jesus offers healing to the paralytic, certainly, and knowing his heart sees that he indeed loves God.  And so by His Word, He brings healing to the man.  “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”  Such simple words, so very few, yet filled with such love of God that they reverse thirty-eight years of suffering.
But our Lord offers the same healing to the jealous Jews.  His healing of the man certainly solves the illness of the paralytic, but the man's walking brings the opportunity for healing to the Jews who have not yet found the heart of God within Jesus.  In the Gospel of St. Mark our Lord plainly tells the Pharisees, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27)  But today the Pharisees still stubbornly choose to cling instead to a human misinterpretation of God’s mercy for His creation.  For these men, the Sabbath takes precedence over the human condition of the man.  For Christ, the exact opposite is true.  In demonstrating this opposition to God’s will, Jesus gives the Jews a glimpse into the heart of God, offers them the same healing from the same event—”Come, and be made well, too!” 
They however remain blinded to this benevolent love of the Creator for His creation.  He has in essence told the Jews as well, “Take up the rancid place in which you have lain all these years and come into the fullness of the Love of God.  Leave your spiritual illness behind and arise!”  And they refuse.
Our Lord’s healing of the paralytic is shown to have produced in him the proper effect, that of seeking God and offering thanks for the gift he had received, for he goes to the temple to offer this thanks.  It is there that he gives testimony to the Jews, offering as an evangelist the words that healed him, and which our Lord would have heal them as well—if their hearts, like the man’s, were truly aligned with the recognition of God’s love.
But there is yet another reason for our Lord's words, for His question, "Do you want to be made well?"  Can we not see that these same words are offered to us?  Do we want to be made well?  If we answer, “Yes,” then the consequence of such an answer is that we, like the paralytic, must choose to align ourselves with God’s will in our lives.  We must effect a change in our hearts, the change that the Jews were unable to make, that same change remains for us to make in ourselves. 
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mat 6:33), love your neighbor (Mat 22:39), love your enemies (Mat 5:44), care for the poor and needy (Mat 25).
But most of all, repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Mat 4:17). 
They are simple words, very few, very easy to understand.  But our hearts must be right to follow where such powerful words lead.
Jesus comes to the pool at Bethesda, a name which translates to “house of mercy.”  Our Lord told the Jews (and thereby He tells us), “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’” (Mat 9:13, Hos 6:6)  It is a verse that points lovingly at Chapter 6 of the book by the Prophet Hosea, which begins with the words, “Come, and let us return to the Lord…”  (Hos 6:1)
Today’s Gospel is a gift to us to remind us, now three Sundays after Pascha, the repentant path that we walked during the Fast, and that we dare not lose in our hearts what we gained while making that walk.
Do we really want to be made well?  We can’t shout joyously “Christ is Risen!” if we don’t!