Day 32: Blogger’s Choice #3

Once again we have free rein (correct usage, although “free reign” is so entrenched in our language that it too is considered correct) to choose our own topic.  Today I want to go with some random observations I have been making lately.  As I have written here, we enjoy the Advent season in our house and don’t go crazy with gifts, etc., and I feel this gives me some clarity in cutting through the craziness of the season.  I am looking forward to our church Christmas pageant Sunday as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.  This is all despite the extreme cold we have had lately and some auto troubles, particularly a dead car battery the other day.  Here goes:

-The poem is called A Visit From St. Nicholas, not Twas The Night Before Christmas.  Let’s get this right.  The wiki article is interesting – I had no idea there was a controversy over authorship.

-We have had a lot of snow recently which is not always the case for December.  I am appalled at some of the driving I have seen.  Massachusetts people like to pride themselves on their ability to deal with the weather and their driving skills – talk to any Mass. person who has lived elsewhere and see what they think of drivers there.  So, what has happened?  Did we forget how to drive?

-I was driving the other day when one of the local high schools let out and noticed a crossing guard for high school students at an intersection that had crossing signals and a short distance between sidewalks.  Do we really need a crossing guard for high school students, especially when there is a signal?  We are a long ways away from the days of the pioneers.

-Now that Oldies 103 is gone, we listen to a station out of Rhode Island for Christmas music.  It is nice hearing the classics, but it really seems like their playlist is on repeat every hour.  On a recent trip to see my father in the Merrimack Valley area, we lost the signal and found a station that is NH based (I think).  It was refreshing to hear different Christmas tunes.  Of course, in the MP3 and streaming era it is hard to complain about this stuff – we can always make our own playlists.

 

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December 20th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Day 24: The Zygote

Fr. John chose this topic for our assignment because Day 24 was the feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary – very fitting!  The idea here is, I think, to talk about life and the abortion issue.  At times in the Orthodox blogosphere and in social media our bishops have taken some shots for supposedly not speaking up about life issues.  I disagree – I think it is more that our bishops leave the political stuff to the politicians and prefer not to meddle with such things.  In our own Metropolis, His Eminence has always spoken out forcefully on moral issues.  He recently received national props around the blogosphere for his address to the Metropolis Clergy-Laity assembly, but to those of us under his jurisdiction we were not surprised – he has always spoken from the seat of Moses when necessary.  A typical, and unreported, example happened several years ago at a Greek event where a congressman (who is not Orthodox) spoke.  The MC introduced him and mentioned, among other things, that he was pro-choice.  Later in the program Metropolitan Methodios got up to speak and, before he began his remarks, he looked over to the gentleman and said “Congressman _____, I hope your choice is pro-life”.  He then went into his talk on another subject.  It was awesome – I started furiously texting friends (discretely, since I was at the head table).  It was the perfect moment, and I hope it made the congressman – a very good man whom I consider a friend – do some thinking.

40DAYSBLOG

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December 11th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Avarice?

Today’s topic is avarice – the Latin word for greed – and I imagine we were assigned this topic today because it is “Black Friday” – the biggest shopping day of the year.  The fashion, from what I have discerned from reading Facebook posts, is to decry Black Friday shopping and the commercialization of our holidays.  I tend to take a contrarian stance. Some thoughts:

-If you don’t like Black Friday, don’t participate.  Lord knows there are plenty of other things to do.  An understandable dissent to this is that Black Friday madness induces people to work on Thanksgiving evening.  This is unfortunate, but…

-…Black Friday does put many stores in the black.  The economy is important and helps us pay our bills.  Is there room for improvement or remaking the economy?  Absolutely. I am a true Jeffersonian – unleash the inner yeoman farmer within all of us!  But for now…

-There are plenty (or maybe really just a few, from certain high-crime areas?) stories of problems at stores, but I get the sense that most people shopping on Black Friday are really out to make the most of their dollar and are not actually greedy Scrooge McDuck types who frolic in piles of hoarded money. What is wrong with finding the best price for a laptop or TV and waiting in line for it?

-People who get into Black Friday genuinely enjoy it.  My friend Deepali is out there every year at 3am and she loves it.  What is wrong with that?

-I have noticed a trend of people talking smack about how bad Black Friday is, and then bragging about ordering stuff online.  Really?

I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping.  I actually need to get something from the local music store but held off going on principal.  But I have no problem with the idea in general.  My main dissent is really in the drive to buy Christmas gifts.  I am a huge advocate of degiftifying – not focusing on giving gifts for Christmas.  This becomes the be-all and end-all of the holiday.  Take a step back and enjoy it for the spiritual triumph that it is.

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November 29th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Hitler Tea Kettle And Twitter

It has been awhile, so here goes…

Everyone so often something “blows up” on Twitter, and today was one of those days.  The interesting thing about learning news via Twitter is that there is only a small amount of text – 120 letters/spaces – allowed, and part of that is often a link.  So when I opened up Twitter to find a retweet that read “JC Penney “Hitler” tea kettle causes social media frenzy, then sells out online” followed by a link, well, I just had to find out what was going on.  And, well, the kettle’s profile really does look like Hitler.  More here.

hitler-jc-penney-tea-kettle

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May 28th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Paschal Message Of His Eminence

Paschal Message
Of His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios
May 5, 2013

This past year, the Pew Research Center and the Gallup poll reported that a small percentage of Americans are active in their religious communities, and few are attending worship services. But, why is it that on Easter night our churches are filled with hundreds of brethren, even those who attend rarely, if at all? I’m convinced it is a flickering light that draws us to the empty tomb to be engulfed by its unwaning light, to partake of the joy and hope of Easter. Perhaps we do not know why, but, nevertheless, something draws us to church tonight to accept the gift of Life victorious over death. What draws all of us to church is a faith inculcated to the depths of our hearts-one often unconscious and inactive, but very much present. What draws us to church tonight resembles what attracted the Myrrh bearing women whose secret hope was surely not to find and anoint a dead corpse, but to see their Savior alive, risen from the dead.

 

We sinners come to the tomb with our doubts and our failures hoping that we may be exalted in the light of a resurrected faith. We come to have our doubts consumed by the flame which flashes from the tomb. We come hoping our hearts may be filled with divine gladness, that our eyes may glow with the light which radiates from an empty grave. We come that our souls may be filled with joy, and our voices with the victory hymn which echoes to the ends of the earth.

 

Momentarily, we will hear the Gospel of St. Mark informing us that the myrrh bearing women fled from the empty grave bewildered and trembling. In another Gospel we read that on the same day, two disciples, Luke and Cleopas made their journey to Emmaus in sad disappointment because their great hope in Jesus had apparently died with His death and burial. They didn’t recognize the Risen Lord.

 

Sadly, and all too often, we do not recognize the Risen Lord on our life’s journey either. The Gospel of John records Thomas’ doubt in the Resurrection. Like us tonight, those closest to Jesus were blinded by their fears, their doubts, and their fallen expectations. Not unlike the Myrrh-bearing women, we find the tomb a fearsome place.

 

The powerful imagery (which we heard in last night’s service) of the Prophet Ezekiel walking through a valley filled with dead men’s bones is an apt description of so much that is happening in our world. The signs of sin and death devastate us. The moral decay and violence which mark our society-as they did recently in Boston, Cambridge and Watertown-can so overwhelm us, that the hope present in our Lord’s Resurrection eludes us.

 

Like the disciples on their way from the Easter event of Resurrection, we can turn so in on our self-interests-our plans and dreams, our shattered hopes and moral shortcomings-that we fail to recognize the Risen Lord in our midst. And, like Thomas, we can set the narrow limits of human knowledge as the boundaries of our undertaking, rather than grasp the limitless horizons of faith.

 

As have Christians for 2,000 years, let us overcome our fears and our doubts to proclaim that, indeed, Christ is Risen. Easter is the new Passover. It is the Resurrection of Christ which leads us from spiritual slavery to freedom, from sin to righteousness, from sadness to joy, from darkness to light, from death to life, from a culture of cruelty to a community of compassion, from this world to the kingdom to come.

 

My brothers and sisters, on His cross Christ bore our individual sins and shortcomings, our weaknesses, our spiritual sickness and death. Rising from the tomb, He raises Adam and Eve and every one of us to newness of life in Him. It is this message that we are called to share (the message of faith and love) to a world that knows too much pain and division. Let us proclaim to all the world, “Come, receive the light from the unwaning light and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead”.

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May 13th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

A Worthy Organization

Yesterday at Sts. Anargyroi we had the pleasure of a visit from Nancy and Basil “Bill” Tolos, who of course are no strangers to our community.  Bill is the vice-president of the New England Amputee Association, a group which provides support for new amputees.  From their website:

Our team of Amputee Coalition Certified Peer Visitors are ready to assist victims and their families from the recent bombing in Boston. Our Peer Visitors are trained in and offer the following services at no charge:
Moral and emotional support for the amputee and their family
Answers to the many questions about limb loss from the perspective of someone who has been through it
Sharing of experiences and resources
Guidance for “what’s next?” in the recovery process

Bill underwent a leg amputation several years ago, and in true Bill fashion is now a certified peer advisor and VP of the organization.  He understands the difficulty of all of a sudden being without a limb and not knowing what comes next.  We passed a tray at the end of service to benefit the group and raised $400.  For those who were not there or perhaps did not have cash on them you can click on the link above to donate to the group.

A fun postscript to this story – Bill recently got a new prosthetic leg and decided to go all out – it has the Boston Red Sox logo on it!

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April 22nd, 2013 by Fr. Greg

His Eminence On Friday’s Happenings

Brethren,

As we wait and watch minute by minute to the ever changing circumstances of this developing crisis on the streets and neighborhoods of our cities, we pray to Almighty God for a peaceful and safe conclusion of this nightmare.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been personally traumatized by the events of the past several hours and days.  We pray for the healing of those injured and the eternal repose of those who have tragically lost their lives.  For all those who have witnessed with their eyes these tragedies, may the Lord bless, health, protect and strengthen you and your families.

During these days of prayer and fasting of the Great Lent, let us recommit ourselves to living a life of love through the Gospel, and spread the Light of Christ to all we come into contact with in order to dispel this darkness of evil.   Our Metropolis website is being updated with resources for parents to begin talking to our children about this crisis.  May the Lord keep you, your families and our children safe in His loving embrace.

With Archpastoral love,

Metropolitan Methodios

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April 19th, 2013 by Fr. Greg