Christian Unity 2017

Last Saturday a bunch of us from the Metropolis joined our Catholic brethren as well as representatives from other Christian traditions – our Coptic friends, the Black Mission Alliance, Congregacion Leon de Juda, the Mass. Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, and many others – for a day of Christian unity.  There were workshops and fellowship culminating with a worship service at the beautiful Holy Name parish in West Roxbury.  There is an account on the Metropolis site here and some remarks from Cardinal Sean here.  It was a great day – the worship service was beautiful, with hymns from different choirs and an inspiring homily from Cardinal Sean – and a nice gathering of different Christians from across the Christian spectrum.  Let’s pray for and plan more such events!

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January 30th, 2017 by Fr. Greg

Christmas Reflection From His Eminence

Below is the Christmas message from Metropolitan Methodios.  You can find the original – in both languages – here.

We live in a world of constant turmoil, of financial crisis, of poverty and unemployment, of disillusionment and uncertainty, of confusion and unrest, of pain and suffering. War rages in that part of the world where Christianity flourished for centuries but now is inhabited by only a handful of faithful. Thousands of refugees continue to flee their homelands for far-away countries that are not always welcoming. On a daily basis, we are inundated with news of one crisis after another, of one suicide bomber after another. It is to such a world that the newborn Savior comes this Christmas to bring “Peace on Earth and goodwill among men.”

Christ comes into the world to reconcile man with his Creator, “to lead us up to heaven and grant us his Kingdom which is to come” (Prayer of the Anaphora). He comes in an age of unbridled consumerism — in an age of plenty — where poor and abandoned brethren suffer and die of hunger and thirst, victimized by our indifference. He comes this Christmas to free those enslaved by tyrants. He comes to console those exploited and stripped of their dignity. He comes to heal the wounds of victims of racial and religious hatred and those victimized by all forms of intolerance and discrimination.

It is to such a world that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords comes. The Son of God lowers himself – He stoops down to our limitations, to our weak and sinful states. St. Paul writes, “though he was in the form of God he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7.) He lays in a manger so that we may understand that the power of God appears in our midst without any of the trappings of what we define as power and might.

The infant Savior comes this Christmas to re-ignite our souls. To instill in our hearts the same joy and hope felt by the Magi and the Shepherds that “Silent and Holy Night” in Bethlehem. He invites us to cultivate the virtues of humility and simplicity, of self-sacrifice and love. He comes to encourage us to be more aware of, and sensitive to, our neighbors. Not just those who live in our neighborhoods. Not just Christians of Orthodox faith, but men and women of ALL faiths. Not just those whom we know, but especially those whom we know as “NONES.”

Brethren,

The feast of the Nativity of the Lord who “emptied Himself taking the form of a servant” is an opportunity for us to be more humble. To be more sensitive to the needs of the poor and of the sick, of orphans and of strangers, of the homeless and hungry. The Son of Almighty God chose humility to reveal to us who He is. He was born in humility. He lived in humility. He humbled Himself even unto death. It is only in humility that we can comprehend the meaning of His Birth.

I pray that our hearts be transfigured into mangers of humility worthy to become the birthplace of the Incarnate Lord. May His presence radiate in our lives every day of the New Year 2017.
Metropolitan Methodios of Boston

December 2016

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January 3rd, 2017 by Fr. Greg

Pumpkin Kibbeh

Last night after presanctified liturgy we had the latest installment in our series of local celebrity chefs doing a cooking demonstration for us.  First, some background: There is a tradition of having potluck meals after these evening liturgies.  When I came to Marlborough I realized there hadn’t been a Wednesday night lenten liturgy in a while.  I didn’t want to saddle everyone with six straight potlucks, so I decided to alternate them with lenten cooking demos.  We always have fun – the chefs give freely of their time and food, everyone enjoys it and learns something, and we eat well and see a side of the chef’s personality that we may not see in everyday life.  Last night Miriam Hyder from Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace kicked off this year’s series, and it was awesome.  Miriam made pumpkin kibbeh, a vegan variation on the traditional meat dish.  Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the food – pictures will soon be up on the church website.  A nice bonus was having Miriam’s mother Edna on board to help out.  Edna and I are both from the same hometown, so we enjoyed reminiscing.  The recipe is below.  If you wish to make it gluten or grain-free, you can substitute quinoa for the bulgur.

 

Pumpkin Kibbeh
Preheat oven to 400. Grease 9 X 13 Pyrex
1.5 cups fine bulghur
2 15oz cans pumpkin puree
1 can chicpeas
1/2 cup flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1t salt X 2
1/2 t black pepper & 1 t black pepper
1t cumin
1T Sumac
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
olive oil
4-6 cups spinach, or leafy greens
Soak bulghur in very hot water for 20 minutes. Drain in mesh colander, squeezing out extra liquid. In a mixing bowl, combine bulghur, pumpkin, flour, water, salt, 1/2t black pepper, cumin.

Heat olive oil in a pan. Saute onions for a few minutes, before adding chickpeas. Sprinkle spices (Sumac, Black pepper, Cinnamon, Salt) over this mixture. Stir, mixing spices throughout. Add spinach (or other greens.) Once wilted, add raisins and walnuts. Mix. Take off heat and pour contents into a bowl.
Use half of the pumpkin/bulghur mixture to evenly line the bottom of the pyrex. use spatula to distribute. Evenly spread “stuffing” (chickpea, onion mixture) over. Lay down third layer, using remaining pumpkin/bulghur mixture.
Use knife to cut halfway down to give kibbeh desired shaped pieces. Brush top with olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes, or until you reach desired crispness.

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March 31st, 2016 by Fr. Greg

Long Day/Yup, He’s Orthodox Part II

Today has been a long day – we had service in the morning with the traditional procession of icons for the Sunday of Orthodoxy – check out photos here – as well as our March 25 Greek School program during coffee hour.  This evening I joined all of the local Orthodox priests for a vespers service.  Among all of this, today was the feast of St. Cuthbert the Wonderworker – read his story here.

Cuthbert – the “bert” part of his name is cognate with “bright” – is, let’s just say, not a common Orthodox name, although it is well represented as an English last name – think of the popular Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert.  The saint’s commemoration today, though, reminds us that there are tons of saints that we don’t think of as part of our Orthodox tradition because they aren’t from the eastern Mediterranean or Russia.  There is much value in exploring the lives of saints such as Patrick, Brigid, Kenneth, and Cuthbert.

Onto tomorrow!  We will be having Bible Boot Camp at 19:00 hours.  Dismissed!

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March 20th, 2016 by Fr. Greg

Archpastoral Reflection

Below is a reflection from His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios on the refugee crisis and Greece.  You can read the original here.

Daily, those of us who have access to Greek television broadcasts are horrified by the unspeakable human tragedy occurring in Greece. It is reported that over 100,000 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries – ravaged by war and internal strife – have been forced to leave their homelands in search for a better life in Europe. As many as 4,000 brethren – many children in the arms of their parents! – have died a horrific death, drowning in the cold waters of the Aegean Sea on their way to what they hoped would be a new life, a new beginning. Those who miraculously managed to survive are now trapped in Greece, forced to endure the winter months sleeping outdoors – in the mud! – because many countries in the European Union have closed their borders. Greece, dealing with its own economic disaster, is left alone to deal with this monumental humanitarian tragedy. Let us recognize Christ Himself in the person of every suffering refugee who is a stranger in a foreign land – naked, hungry, and thirsty love and care. Let us seek out ways to offer our assistance. As we continue our Lenten Journey, let us remember the words of our Savior, treasured in the 25th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew: “As you did it to one of these the least my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

Let us remember in our prayers the countless Christians crucified and beheaded because they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. Let us pray for the repose of those Bishops, Priests, and devout laymen – victims of a modern day genocide – whose blood soaks the ground where Christianity flourished for thousands of years.

Let us clasp the hand of another, and another, and another, until all humanity stands united as brothers and sisters in the household of God, praising His almighty and majestic name.

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March 18th, 2016 by Fr. Greg

Yup, He’s Orthodox

Today is St. Patrick’s Day – a huge secular feast day in America, and one that has huge religious roots.  It is seen as an Irish-based holiday, and indeed most all of the people I encountered today here in the heart of Massachusetts had green on (and I was on pinch patrol).  On Facebook today someone posted an article entitled “YES he’s Orthodox and NO he’s not Irish!”.  Well, yes on the first and, I would argue, no on the second part.  St. Patrick is indeed an Orthodox saint (and a great bridge between our faith and American culture).  He is, like many others, a western saint who lived before the great schism – a period of a thousand years shared by the west and east.  While St. Patrick was not ethnically Irish, he made the country his home and became one of the people – like coming to American, buying into the program, and becoming American.  His Eminence Metropolitan Savas has shared a great article on what food St. Patrick likely would have had at a feast.  Here is a hint – it is likely not like the local pub’s St. Paddy’s day special.

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March 17th, 2016 by Fr. Greg

Moses And Goldschläger

This evening I had the pleasure of speaking at First Church Marlborough (who are celebrating their 350th (!) anniversary) on the topic of the theology of food.  I spent about half the talk going over uses of food in the Bible – a topic for another post – and then spoke about fasting practices in the Orthodox Church.  Today is, for us, the second day of Lent while our Western friends will have Holy Week next week – it is one of those years.  In going over food (and drink) in the Bible, I came across a point I had long forgotten.  In Exodus 32, the Israelites have fashioned an idol to worship – the Golden Calf.  Moses, in his anger over this, has the idol pulverized and makes the Israelites drink water mixed with the powder.  While I have not seen this anywhere, I figure this must be the origin of Goldschläger, a Swiss schnapps that has tiny flakes of gold in it.   The name of the liqueur – “gold-beaters” – refers to those who pound gold into thin leafs.  There is an urban myth that the gold cuts your digestive apparatuses and the alcohol goes straight into the blood stream.  I remember, though, a story from 20-odd years ago of someone who drank it regularly and ended up with a problem of too much gold in his bloodstream – internet searches have proved fruitless on this one.  In any case, if you have a friend drinking Goldschläger, you have an opportunity to talk about Biblical events.

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March 15th, 2016 by Fr. Greg