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“My Lord and my God!”

The Holy Apostle Thomas said that he would not believe Jesus had risen from the dead: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) Eight days later, the Risen […]

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What ever happened to the Tree of Life?

What ever happened to the Tree of Life that stood in the middle of the Garden of Eden?  How can I have a taste of its fruit? In Genesis chapter 2, we learn that God had placed Adam and Eve in this amazing Garden. It was filled with trees that were “pleasing to the eye […]

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#AscendingTogether Part 3: Dn. Seraphim, Volunteer Prison Chaplain

When Deacon Seraphim Blackstock began visiting men in a Florida prison, he started out, in his own words, “very arrogant”.  “I went into the prisons with the idea I was helping these guys. They’re felons. They’ve committed horrible crimes. I’m doing them a big favor.” Dn. Seraphim would soon find out that there was much […]

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“Not my will, Lord, but Your will be done!”

“And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God…For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:35-38)

Today Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate the Annunciation when the Holy Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she was “highly favored; the Lord was with her; and she was blessed among women!” You can read the whole story in Luke 1. Her response to the angel literally changed the course of human history. In fact, her humble obedience to God caused the early Christians to call her the “Second Eve” or the “New Eve.”

The reason for this title is grasped better when we consider the story of the first Eve found in Genesis 3:1-6. Instead of being obedient to God, Eve basically said: “Not Your will, but my will be done.” And with that attitude, she disobeyed God and, along with Adam, ate fruit from the tree that had been forbidden. Thus was ushered in our ability to sin (which we have all done) and mankind’s separation from God. Out of all women who had ever lived, Mary was chosen to be the vessel that would bring salvation to mankind. Keep in mind, this was a very real choice; she could have said no. Instead, Mary’s response was the opposite of Eve’s: “Not my will, but Your will be done!” Mary’s obedience led to the Birth of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. We are all so very grateful for her humble obedience.

Note that she gave birth to Jesus, Who is fully God and fully man. This is something that was proclaimed by the early Christians and is found in every early Creed of Christianity. Throughout history there have been many people who have rejected Jesus being God and proclaimed Him as a man or some type of super-man. In the year 428 a bishop named Nestorius proclaimed that Mary was “Christotokos,” the bearer of Christ, and not “Theotokos,” the bearer of God. The leadership of the entire Christian world came together in 431 in Ephesus for a Council to discuss what Christianity had always believed about who Jesus is. The Truth, which had been handed down from generation to generation from the time of Jesus through His Apostles, was clear. The Council proclaimed that Mary bore God come in the flesh and was therefore the Theotokos (Bearer of God). The beliefs of Nestorius were condemned.

So today, we give honor to that vessel who bore God in her body bringing the Savior to the world. We too carry our Lord within us and it is our joy to bring Him and His message of salvation to the world. The Holy Scriptures tell us that all generations will call Mary blessed: “And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” (Luke 1:46-49)

Do you call her blessed? Do you honor her as the Theotokos…the bearer of God to this world? No other woman has ever deserved it more. She is the blessed Theotokos.

May we in our daily choices also have that same response as Mary: “Not my will, Lord, but Your will be done!”

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Tracks in the Snow

Have you ever gone for a walk right after a snow storm? I recall going for a hike with my dog after it had snowed the day before. We were hiking on the snow.  As I started making tracks in the snow, I was rejoicing that no one else had made tracks…we were alone to enjoy […]

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Being Like Cain

“Dog gone it!  I should have won that award not her!”  “Shoot, I don’t understand why people seem to like him more than me!”  “How did that clown get promoted over me?” There is a great line in one of my favorite movies of all time, The Island (Ostrov).  A very scholarly, intelligent monk is […]

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What Is Success During Great Lent?

Day 6 of Great Lent We have arrived at Saturday of the first week of Great Lent! We are almost through one week of our journey toward the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord. So, how did it go for you? Let me ask you by a show of hands (hopefully you are reading this by […]

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What’s On Your Plate?

“You wouldn’t believe who I caught eating ice cream during Great Lent!” (See photo for evidence) We do seem to get totally focused on food during Great Lent.  If asked to explain Great Lent, most of us would say that it is a time of denying ourselves certain foods. All of those who have the […]

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Wisdom! Let Us Be Attentive!

Day 4 of Great Lent As we continue to read the Book of Proverbs this Great Lent, we are listening carefully to what “Wisdom” has to say. When Wisdom speaks…Christ speaks. When Wisdom is mentioned, it is referring to Jesus. What happens when we replace the word “Wisdom” with the Name of Jesus? “Happy is […]

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Wisdom Speaks!

“Wisdom” begins to speak aloud in Proverbs 1:20- “Wisdom calls aloud!” What or Who is this Wisdom? One of the greatest Churches ever built was Hagia Sophia in what was then Constantinople. The name in English is Holy Wisdom. This name is not about “what” is wisdom but truly about “Who” is Wisdom. The Church […]