Friday, December 13, 2013

St Herman of Alaska

Hey! Look over there! Is that a Saint?
No. It couldn’t be. This is America, and all the Saints are dead people from Europe.
At least, that is what ‘most’ people think.

We are all called to be saints, but the attitude that “that was then, and this is now,” when it comes to the making of saints, is just not true. To say the Church is “constantly” identifying new saints would be an exaggeration, but the Church has identified saints more contemporary to us than Saint Basil and Saint John Chrysostom. There are even American Saints, seventeen of them actually, but today I we have been asked by the 40 Days of Blogging Challenge to write about Saint Herman of Alaska.

St Herman was among the very first Orthodox missionaries in Alaska. His love and dedication to the native Alaska people is still remembered to this day for his love and compassion and pastoral leadership. What I like ‘most’ about Saint Herman was his willingness to bring Orthodoxy to the native people AT THEIR LEVEL. He was able to make the Orthodox way of life real enough for them that they still remember his today as their father.

If Orthodox Christianity can be embraced by the Native Alaskan people of past centuries, it can be embraced by contemporary American men and women. All that is required is for us to bring it down to their level and allow them to see the functionality and healing power of the Orthodox Christian way of life. Of course, bringing it down to their level DOESN’T mean watering down the faith. Rather, it means helping them see where it can connect, when the rubber hits the road, and live a new life in Christ. It means helping everyday men and women to understand the Orthodox Christian way of life isn’t about punishing us and limiting us. Rather it is about helping us realize our true human potential….to be united to the Creator of the universe.

Sound difficult? Of course it is. Saint Herman suffered greatly in the wilderness of Alaska to prove to the native people then that God was not only worth following, but He would help guide them and heal them from their brokenness; something I think too many Christians have forgotten lately.

This post is written for the 40 Days of Blogging Challenge sponsored by the Preachers Institute. You may find other blogs participating in this challenge. I hope you enjoy this year’s Advent journey.

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