Sunday, December 30, 2012

Questions and Answers

On occasion, we take the opportunity for questions and answers. Topics included in this special edition of Be Transfigured! include fasting and confession.


Why do we need to fast for Christmas?

Do pregnant women have to fast?

Is it required to fast on Saturday before receiving Holy Communion?

When do we need to begin fasting for an evening Liturgy?

Do we need Holy Confession before receiving Holy Communion?



This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Suffering of Innocents Needs to End

Each year on the Sunday following Christmas, the Orthodox Church commemorates the killing by King Herod of the innocent children while he searched for the new-born Christ. It is a pain we know too well lately with the recent tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary School. But it is also a pain most Americans choose to ignore as millions of unborn infants are aborted each year.


The Gospel tells, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” (Matthew 2.18) And yet today, there is little or no wailing for the innocents that continue to suffer in our society at the hands of others. While many are in fact killed, others go without proper food and clothing, others go without a roof over their heads, and still others go without proper medication for illnesses otherwise easily cured.


As we celebrate the health and good fortune of our families this year during Christmas and look forward to the coming year, I pray we can commit to work toward the end of such innocent suffering in our society. It begins when our hearts are burning with pain for these suffering children. It will continue when our pain causes us to act for the good of the innocent children of our society.


There was no comfort for the mothers when thousands of innocent children were killed in search of Christ. We must not allow any more innocent children to suffer just because we are no longer in search of Christ to transform our hearts. Together we can dedicate the coming New Year as the year to inviting Christ to burn in our hearts and cause us to act to save the innocents. Their suffering will only end when our hearts burn.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Light in the Midst of Darkness; Christ is Born!

The coming of The Light into the world as a newborn baby brings hope for a better future. In the midst of the darkness of our daily struggles, we look to the Light of Christ to shine our path easing our pain.


Friday, December 21, 2012

The Problem is Sin

With the recent tragic school shooting last week in Connecticut, the national conversation is again turned to the violence imposed by others upon “the innocent” and what can be done to stop such violent events. I’ve been struggling with what to offer the followers of Be Transfigured! but I keep coming up with “The Problem is Sin.”

You might be saying, “Of course, why state the obvious?” but I’m not sure we really know what these simple four words mean. Maybe I should say the problem is “How we talk about sin.” I think that better characterizes what I’m feeling in past few days since the tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary School. The fact that we all feel the need to declare it a tragedy in the first place I think expresses what I mean about “how we talk about sin.” When can a shooting, school or otherwise, ever not be tragedy?

Saint Paul said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3.23) and yet we are constantly attempting to characterize one sin as greater than another. If all fall short, then all sin falls short, shooting or otherwise. All sin becomes a tragedy that must be overcome by spiritual warfare. War on guns, war on drugs, war on poverty….what we need is a war on sin.

Again Saint Paul says,
For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7.19-25

If we can embrace this understanding of sin, then we see that the school shooting is no more a tragedy than the countless abortions in the world, or domestic violence, or starving children, or hefty bank accounts, or oversized houses, or divorce, or sexual promiscuity, or jealousy, greed, anger, lust…Saint Paul says it better than I can…
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1.20-32

But thanks be to God! Christmas is not simply a fun-filled, tree-decorated, present-wrapping, snow-covered (except in the South) holiday. Saint John Chrysostom characterized Christmas as the capital of feasts. All other Feasts of the Lord – Epiphany, Transfiguration, Passion, the Resurrection, and Ascension – all follow Christmas. Without Christmas there would have been no resurrection. And as Saint Paul says, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” 1 Corinthians 15.14

This year at Christmas, I invite you to reflect upon the tragedies around you, and don’t stop at the obvious ones, and turn your hearts toward God and have faith in Him. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5.1-5

You see, until we can see sin for what it is, we will never succeed in eliminating tragedies such as the Sandy Hook shooting from our nightly news casts. Until we can see that our hearts must turn toward God, we will never succeed in realizing that there were actually 28 who lost their lives in the tragedy. Unless we turn our hearts toward God, we will never realize that we are no lesser sinner than any murder. Either all fall for short or not. Either all need the reality of Christmas or not. If not all…..who?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Don’t Stop Now….You’re in the Home Stretch

Toward the end of any race we can become fatigued both physically and mentally, and many experience this fatigue with the finish line in sight. It is just then that we must focus our attention on the goal and put everything we have into finishing the race with zeal and a certain level of accomplishment. The same holds true to the spiritual race of fasting for Christmas.

The Church has been encouraging us to fast, at least from meat, since November 15th and Christmas is just days away. We are in the home stretch, and may feel a bit fatigued. But DON’T GIVE UP NOW. The race is almost finished and you can cross the finish line Monday evening during the Divine Liturgy with zeal and feeling a bit of accomplishment, especially if you have never fasted for Christmas before. It just requires a bit of spiritual focus.

The hectic shopping frenzy, the constant news updates about the fiscal cliff, and what seemed like non-stop holidays parties is coming to an end….but we STILL NEED TO CELEBRATE Christmas. While our friends and neighbors are experiencing “burn out” from the holiday craze, we will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy Monday evening.

Keep your focus just a bit more, and spend Christmas Eve in prayer and fasting as “that last push” toward the finish line. Christmas services ACTUALLY BEGIN Monday morning at 8:30am with Royal Hours and Vespers. Then we CONTINUE in worship with Orthros Monday evening at 8pm followed by Divine Liturgy and a community celebration in the Fellowship Hall. See you in Church!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Free Will to Choose God

At no time is it more difficult to understand God’s gift of free will for humans than during a tragedy. The recent shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school challenges each of us to come to terms with His gift of free will for each person, not only those who “follow His rules” and behave as we would expect. God never forces anyone to choose to accept His invitation for a better life, and we shouldn’t try. God has invited each of us to join Him in a heavenly banquet, but if we continue to make excuses, He won’t force us; He will merely allow us to reject His invitation and He will move on to invite others who choose to join Him.



This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Shopping During a Down Economy

I’ve been reflecting upon Christmas shopping this year and found myself remembering gifts such as shoes, sweaters, socks, shirts etc from my parents for Christmas along with a few toys and gadgets any boy would love. As a boy I remember not caring much for the clothing, but as I grew older I looked forward to my annual Christmas sweater and socks. Then……I realized what was going on.

What as a little boy I saw as boring presents that NO KID EVER WANTED, I now realize were the clothes I NEEDED that were turned into presents I could unwrap and open. Now as a parent I find myself wondering what my son “will open” on Christmas morning knowing that he already has too many toys, but still needs new clothes and school supplies. I ALWAYS LOVED school supplies in my Christmas stocking…

With the economy still struggling to recover and so many families wondering what to wrap and place under the Christmas Tree, I offer this brief post as encouragement. Identify the things your children NEED for school and clothes etc, and wrap them for Christmas in as many packages as possible. The more packages, the more your children can open. Thankfully Christmas wrapping paper can be found pretty cheap. New pencils, markers, water bottles for lunch, socks, and even underwear make great stocking stuffers. Of course a trip to the dollar store for fun little toys and sweets added to the “mix” will sweeten the morning’s fun of opening Christmas presents.

You don’t need Wii, iPads, and laptops in order to have joy on Christmas morning. The real joy comes when your family attends Church together to give thanks to God for saving us from death, and then returning home to enjoy spending time AS A FAMILY.

Have a blessed Christmas

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Invitation from God is Freely Given and Should be Freely Accepted

Most if not all of us have hosted dinner parties where certain guests that were invited did not attend, and most if not all of us have been invited to dinner parties we have chosen not to attend. I’m sure none of us enjoy attending a dinner party out of obligation and guilt when we would rather be doing something else, and I’m sure none of us would prefer having guests attend our dinner party when they didn’t really want to be there in the first place.


The same is true when it comes to the Heavenly Banquet. The Lord has invited each of us to join Him at the Heavenly Banquet and is waiting for our response. It is a simple invitation: “Come, for all things are now ready.” (Luke 14.17) The rest is up to us…will we accept the Lord’s invitation?


As we hear in the Gospel, not everyone accepts His invitation. When the servants had called all those invited, “They all with one accord began to make excuses.” (Luke 14.18) In response, the Lord didn’t try to guilt them into accepting, nor did He force them to attend. Rather, He went out and invited others to attend so His “House may be filled.” (Luke 14.23)


Only one question remains; will we accept His invitation or make excuses? He won’t force us to accept and He doesn’t want us to come out of fear or guilt. The invitation is freely given to us and He desires us to freely accept it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


You may be suffering with a physical or emotional pain, but hope in the Lord’s deliverance you can endure. The Gospel and the history of the Church brings many examples of faithful men and women with deep faith and patience and devotion to God, and they were all delivered from their suffering. You can also be delivered from suffering with patience and faith in God. Don’t give up hope. Deliverance is giving by all those who seek the Lord.

This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Three Examples of God’s Grace

Saint Anna – mother of the Theotokos

  1.  lived life barren without children into her old age
  2.  in old age prayed to God that she and her husband (Joachim) would dedicate their child to God
  3. in old age, God blessed her with the natural conception of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Saint Nikiforos the Righteous orphaned as a young child
  1. developed leprosy at the age of thirteen
  2. exiled at the age of sixteen to Egypt because of his disease
  3. relocated to Chios at the age of twenty-four to live in a home for lepers
  4. relocated to Athens at the age of 67 when home for lepers closed to live in another leper home
  5. died of leprosy at the age of 74 – never ceasing his praise God, his relics were fragrant with myrrh when they were uncovered. Many miracles have been attributed to St Nikiforos the Righteous. He was canonized on December 2, 2012, by the Holy and Great Synod in Constantinople.

Woman in today’s Gospel (Luke 13.10-17)

  1.  bent over for eighteen years not being able to stand up straight
  2. on “a Sabbath” she was in the Synagogue praying
  3.  God healed her with a mere touch
  4.  she stood up and “glorified God”

Do you still think you’re suffering unfairly?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holy Nikeforos intercede for us

On December 1, 2012, the Holy and Great Synod of Constantinople announced the Canonization of Saint Nikiforos the Leper who fell asleep in the Lord in 1964. You can read some information about our "newest" Saint below...

Holy Nikiforos, interceded for us!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Life is Full of Choices; Choose Christ!

Do you feel like you have lost control of the choices in your life? Are you in a dark period of your life? Many of us are blind to Jesus Christ and His life free from darkness until we call out to Him for mercy. Many will attempt to stop us from calling to Him, but it is our choice whether or not we sit quietly or call to Him even louder, “Lord, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Don’t allow the crowd to make your choices for you any longer. Choose Christ today, and live a life of blessing and light.



This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at