March 30, 2018

I mentioned that Christine was churched on Sunday; it was my first time back to church since she had been born.  It wasn't my first time out of the house; I tried to stay at home as much as possible beforehand, but I wasn't as good at as maybe I could have been.  So what is a churching anyway?  Well, it's a short prayer service that blesses the new mother and the baby and it happens around the 40th day after birth.

Beyond that I don't know a whole lot about it; I'm still learning the ropes here and Sunday was the first time I had ever done one.  Over the first several months of our moving here I met many new people at our congregation, and almost the first thing anyone would mention to me is the churching.  

Did I know I wasn't going to be coming to church for forty days after Baby was born?  Was I ok with that?  And then they would proceed to give me all the reasons why it was actually a good thing, and not really a big deal.  I got the impression that people we...

March 29, 2018

This is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."

– 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Imagine you're a pastor.  It is your job to be a steward of the Mysteries of Christ.  Knowing that you hold in your hands God Himself, and that this gift is so powerful that an unworthy guest to the Table might harm himself by partaking of God without faith… how would you handle that responsibility? 

Would you assume that anyone coming to you is a heretic or an unbeliever so that no one would benefit from abiding in Christ through the Eucharist?  No.  What about coming up with a formula, if a person is this young or this old or this disabled, we can assume they might be heretics so we will refuse them the Supper?  Should we assume that any of our baptized membe...

March 26, 2018

As we prepare ourselves for our first Holy Week in the Orthodox Church I wanted to share something that was very helpful to me in understanding the Orthodox difference with regards to the meaning of the cross.  This is reposted with permission from my personal friend Ben Harju who blogs over at Paredwka

You can find the original post here

Be Reconciled

In Lutheran dogmatics a sharp distinction is made between justification and sanctification. Justification is to be declared righteous. Sanctification is to be made holy (or declared and made holy). Justification is a forensic act. A careful consideration of the Formula of Concord Article III (Righteousness of Faith Before God) makes this clear. Justification is carefully hedged in juridical terms, and set against the idea that one is actually made righteous by the Holy Spirit as a matter of renewal. Specifically we can cite the following from the Epitome [selections from par. 12-23]:

Therefore we reject and condemn all the fo...

March 21, 2018

This is a post in our ongoing No Longer Sola Series.

Questions surrounding the Eucharist were an issue in my investigation of Orthodoxy.  While communion of the baptized was not the issue that ultimately compelled me to leave Lutheranism, it was an issue that persistently caused me to investigate Orthodoxy after I would try to set it aside in order to remain Lutheran. 

This issue alone is not, I think, sufficient to cause one to leave Lutheranism for Orthodoxy. One can hold to this position and quite faithfully hold to the Lutheran Confessions in good conscience.  For me the issue that finally meant I needed to leave Lutheranism was the Church, but more on that another time.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) has a catechism that is used for youth and adult catechesis in preparation for membership and first communion.  Question 305 was partially problematic for me.  It reads:

"Question: Who must not be given the Sacrament?
The Sacrament must not be given to the follow...

March 17, 2018

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!  I have uploaded many cute baby pictures as an unabashed attempt at click bait.  (It's working right?)  But I really have a much more urgent matter to discuss with you today.  I promise that baby pictures at the end but please read through first! These are dear friends of ours from seminary.  

Pastor Gillespie is no longer serving a congregation full-time, which means their medical insurance is no longer being covered.  Four of the Gillespie's beautiful children have a rare genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC).

This disease causes non-cancerous tumors to grow in every major organ. The tumors in the brain often cause seizures and all four children need medication to manage these seizures. 

Read more about their family's battle with TSC here.

While they qualify for Medicaid, it does not cover the specialists needed for this rare disorder because they are all out-of-state, nor does it cover all the med...

March 16, 2018

My recent experience of Western Rite Orthodoxy got the gears turning on a question I have been receiving since our conversion.  Why not Rome?

I remarked to one of the monastics last weekend how the Liturgy there felt very similar to a Lutheran liturgy.  He agreed and said that if I was a Catholic it would’ve felt “very very similar” and if I was a good Episcopalian it would’ve felt “very very very similar”. 

I have great love and admiration for my Roman Catholic friends and the good things that the Catholic Church does in so many areas.  I long and hope for the day that the schism between Rome and the East is healed and genuine unity is restored.

A short disclaimer before I begin...

Because Roman Catholicism was not ever a serious contender, (I was very Lutheran, and I wasn't interested in converting to anything at all until I found what I did in Orthodoxy) I did not do as much research into the Catholic positions and situations that I'm discussing here.  So i...

March 14, 2018

Today is the feast day of Saint Benedict, the founder of Benedictine Monasticism!

Last weekend I had the great blessing of visiting a western rite Orthodox monastery from the Benedictine Tradition.

Founded on Holy Cross Day, 2013, the The Monastery of Our Lady and Saint Laurence strives to model its life on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia (d. 547 A.D.), modified by its own Constitutions, under the guidance of its elected Prior (superior).  Father Theodore is the Prior (or Abbott)  of this monastery.  Here he is making some lunch for everyone.  Oh and that's Sebastian glaring at the camera.  I don't think he liked me very much...

  I was able to have some of the kids with me and it was an experience that they enjoyed as well.  Evangelia said that her favorite part was playing cards and board games with the other pilgrims from church.  Stephen said his favorite part was the nature walks.

"I think I'd like to be a monk one day," Ste...

March 12, 2018

Iakabos, Hope, Evangelia and Stephen just got home from a monastery retreat this weekend with a group from church.  That means that I was home with Jacob, Kyriaki and Christine (and, of course my lovely mom who was helping out!)


We went to the store on Saturday to pick up a few things, and I left Jacob with Grammy for a few minutes in the shampoo aisle so I could go grab packing tape.  When I came back what I saw was not surprising, but it was painful.

Jacob was sitting in his wheelchair, with Grammy looking at shampoos behind him, and he had slouched over and zoned out.  It’s a particular face he gets when he’s feeling lost or confused about what’s happening around him.  I saw that same exact look and posture at the orphanage; he looked like a sad, lost little boy. 

Typically Jacob doesn’t go to the store much, because it’s an overwhelming and disorienting experience for him, but he went today.  At first he seemed like he was having fun, but...

March 9, 2018

In a previous post I promised to explore what unity looks like in the Orthodox Church.  Although there are a set of agreed upon liturgies, it certainly is not an absolutist, mechanical approach. I’ve been to a diversity of Orthodox parishes over the years, and they have all been different. 

Some are Greek or Antiochian or Russian or Serbian.  Sometimes the service has been in a completely different language, sometimes the service has all been in English, other times you will hear a multiplicity of languages all in one service.

Some parishes have hymnals and the laity are encouraged to sing along, others have nothing to follow and the choir alone chants most of the service.  Some jurisdictions celebrate saints and feasts on different days of the year.  Certain regions have more saints that they commemorate beyond the universal commemorations.  Some priests have beards and wear cassocks everywhere they go, others don’t.

Orthodox people aren’t infallible in any sense, the...

March 7, 2018

 This post is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

Sola fide.  Faith alone.  What does this mean?

“Also they [our churches] teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight.” - Augsburg Confession, article 4

In our most recent post Iakabos discussed Sola Scriptura and its effect on worship and doctrine in Western churches.  But the Scripture Alone principle is not the only sola of the reformation which affects worship practices in Protestantism.  Today we are talking about sola fide – faith alone.

Very often converts to the pre-reformation churches, Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, are accused of being wooed by the “smells and bells” of the ancient liturgy.  Several times...

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