Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What do You Hope for in 2015?

With the New Year just hours away, millions of people are filled with hope for the coming year. Social networks are streaming with best wishes for the New Year, but what do YOU hope for in 2015? Do you hope for good health? Do you hope for financial prosperity? Are you hoping for that new job or house? Hope is a basic emotion of our human existence, but unfortunately it is often misguided. It isn’t so much WHAT we hope for this is misguided, but WHY we hope.

We hope for good health, SO THAT we can have time for repentance of our many sins and glorify God.
We hope for prosperity, SO THAT we can do the work of Christ and His Church and glorify God.
We hope for a new job, SO THAT we can support our family with basic needs and glorify God.

If our hope is not focused on giving glory to God and preparing our soul for eternity with Him, then our hope is misguided. So what do YOU hope for in 2015?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rejecting Christmas

In the days following Christmas, many people wait in long lines to exchange the gifts they received for Christmas. Many exchange their gifts merely because they wanted something different, rejecting the original gift. Just as Herod rejected the original gift of Christmas by killing 14,000 innocent children, many times WE reject Christmas by killing our neighbors with harsh words and thoughts. Has Christmas changed the way you live, or have you rejected Christmas?

A King Born to be Buried

From the moment Jesus Christ was born, the world was preparing for His burial. Herod the King tried to kill the new born King, while the Magi came to worship Him. We have two options when we greet Christ; we can choose the path of Herod and reject God, or join the Magi and worship Him. When we choose the path of the Magi, we will join Him in death as the world will reject our way of life. There is no avoiding death. It was the entire reason for His birth. He was born to be buried.

A Savior has been Born so that We may be Rescued

Many people approach Christmas exhausted from the weeks of holiday parties and shopping, but they miss the joy of birth of their Savior. Jesus Christ has been born so that He might rescue us from the hectic and painful life, and bring us to something better, life with Him in Heaven.  If only we can follow the example of the shepherds who left their work to go and meet the Lord, we too could join our voices with the angels and sing, “Glory to God in the Highest!”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Vote for your favorite!

We want to hear from you! As 2014 is coming to an end, we want to give YOU the opportunity to let us know which video on Be Transfigured was your favorite this year? The only rule is your favorite MUST have been produced THIS year...any sermon, Bible study, or special event is eligible. For a complete list of Be Transfigured videos, goto

Use the comment section below to post the link to your favorite Be Transfigured video from 2014. Voting ends at 11:59pm on December 31st.


We have all heard them, and we have all used them. Excuses are a convenient way for us to “get out of” doing something we don’t want to do, or going somewhere we don’t want to go. But when God invites you to join Him, it’s time to put the excuses aside and join Him. Don’t be left behind when the ship sails, just because you have an excuse. Otherwise, you will hear the Lord say, “None of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.” Don’t watch the ship sail away on the horizon. Put your excuses aside and live the life Christ has for you in His Church.

What is Righteousness?

Just days before Christmas, the Church invites us to consider the righteousness of Abraham and Joseph the betrothed of Mary. These two holy ancestors of God lived their life dedicated and loyal to the promise of God, despite the reality they never set their eyes on God’s promise. The Birth of God ushers in the beginning of God’s fulfillment for an end to death and beginning of a new eternal life in Christ. Though Abraham and Joseph never witnessed the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom, we too may not witness the fullness of the Kingdom, but we are called to be righteous. God will fulfill His promise, and our willingness to embrace the righteousness of Abraham and Joseph, will prepare us to receive the fullness of God’s eternal comfort and love. Do YOU what it takes to be righteous this Christmas?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Words Matter

With the recent public outcry and racial tensions in America lately over a few (in my opinion) overly publicized legal cases, I have decided to say a few words on the subject, because words matter. Language is a very important element in any society as it defines how members of said society “agree to interact” along personal, social and business transactions. In fact, within the history of the Church, many deep theological arguments were waged over nuances in language. Some arguments, such as the “nature” or “natures” of Christ, resulted in centuries-long schisms with the Christian Church. I use this simply for the sake of example since this post is NOT about theology, but sociology.

In the recent racial outcry expressed in numerous protests and riots throughout America, it has become obvious to me that we are experiencing a language barrier that is so great, only the grace of God and genuine Christian love will ever guide us through the muddy rivers of racial tensions in America. One such barrier I have noticed is the term, “white privilege” currently being bantered about. Reactions to a post by a close friend of mine have been violent and plain old ugly. Using the tensions surrounding Ferguson and New York City as a framework, the author attempted to point out how many of our Churches experience a “tone” that might not be welcoming to members outside our “natural” circle of members.

The author’s points about our Churches are quite accurate, even as I have experienced them in 21 years of lay and ordained ministry. Many of our Churches are NOT welcoming, and anyone suggesting otherwise is just not making an honest assessment. But that alone shouldn’t be enough to create such violent reactions. I figured there had to be more to the picture, so I did a little reading on the term “white privilege” and realized we indeed had a language issue.

“White privilege” is what I would call a politically “hot” term, in that it is used in most cases to express a level of guilt and shame against white members of the ruling class. What the term attempts to convey is the reality that predominately white society has functioned, many times subconsciously , to favor white people and some might consider “white culture” if there really is such a thing in 2014. To deny this reality of any society, whether it is white America or Asian China, would simply be dishonest at best and ignorant at worst. I will state here that I am NOT referring to intentional favoritism and policies though that is undeniably part of our history as well. That would be for another blog post especially since the term “white privilege” also makes that distinction.

As Orthodox Christians I believe a better word to convey the same reality might be, “humility” since it is neither politically “hot” nor racially descriptive. From an Orthodox Christian point of view, humility is objectively acknowledging our current reality, and accepting that God desires more for us and from us. It is also a term that looks inward rather than outward, and calls EACH of us to repentance no matter what our starting point is. Humility, used from this point of view would convey the realty that our American society, being predominately white has certain subconscious realities that give white members of our society an advantage. But that is only our starting point. It also conveys that white members of our society, if they are acting with Christian love, would not desire for non-white members of our society to be overlooked, and therefore reach out to non-white neighbors etc to bridge the gap.

But humility doesn’t stop there, because it also conveys to non-white members of our society that many of these subconscious advantages are neither intentional nor historically reversible. We cannot rewrite history but we should study it and learn from it. If we learn anything from history, it might be that racial tensions are painful. To simply allow the pendulum to “swing the other way” to give non-white members of our society their fair share of advantage, is only to expect the pendulum to eventually return, leaving pain in its wake in perpetuity. Just as white members of society, if they are acting with Christian love, would reach out to non-white members, similarly non-white members of our society, if they are acting with Christian love, also would not want to cause pain and suffering.

The point of Christian humility is that as Christians each of us understands our sinfulness and we each desire to repent and grow closer to God where “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galations 3.28)

If we really want to make improvements in American race relations, a good starting point would be to stop using terms that “in themselves” enrage either side. It also means that both sides, desiring to be on the same side, must acknowledge the reality of the every side. We live in a the greatest society on the face of the Earth, which depends wholly on ever member of society acknowledging the value of the other, no matter which race, economic class, or gender he or she may  be. That is nothing more than humility.

I must also admit that one of the most difficult virtues of Christian love is to allow for free will. God doesn’t take away our free will at any time, even allowing us to deny and hate Him. Neither can we, nor should we even try to, take away anyone else free will. That means, some will choose hate and racism. Humility allows for that too, since our love for God and each other acknowledges that some will reject love, and there really is nothing we can do to change it, but love them. If we see it in ourselves, we have been given the chance to repent.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Christmas IS and ISN'T About

Christmas isn’t about gathering family together, although many families do gather at Christmas...
Christmas isn’t about giving and receiving gifts, although many give and receive gifts at Christmas...
Christmas isn’t about decorating, although many decorate with lights and ribbons at Christmas...
Christmas isn’t about enjoying a banquet, although many will enjoy a great banquet at Christmas...

Christmas IS about celebrating, IN CHURCH, with Divine Liturgy, the coming in the flesh of the eternal Word of God for our salvation. As Orthodox Christians we PREPARE for the celebration with prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and Holy Confession. As Orthodox Christians we honor God’s Nativity by living a holy life, free from the passions of wealth-building and power-grabbing.

What about those “others things” we do during Christmas?

We gather as family at Christmas to worship God IN CHURCH. We give and receive gifts at Christmas to remember the Magi’s offering to God. We decorate our homes at Christmas to welcome the King into our lives. We enjoy a banquet to celebrate our new life in Christ.

Have a blessed Christmas

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ritual...we all have one!

Henry David Thoreau lived in the woods to discover what he already knew to be true, human beings live through ritual. Whether it is driving the exact same route through town to Church every Sunday, or flipping light switches is a particular order when we open our business on Monday morning, each of us has a ritual we follow.  Most of us have several rituals that are unique to certain events in our life such as work rituals, family rituals, vacation rituals, and it seems EVERYONE has morning rituals. Have you ever thought about your morning ritual?

I’m sure you have some sort of morning ritual, but does it include morning prayers? One common mistake I have noticed in many “morning rituals” is the lack of a dedicated Morning Prayer component. Many people desire to pray in the morning, something taught through the centuries as being central of a Christian life, but they can’t find the time to squeeze it in to their morning ritual, simply because it isn’t PART of their morning ritual.

In the Didache (Teaching of the Holy Apostles to the Nations) we were taught:
Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, thus pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one; for Yours is the power and the glory for ever. Thrice in the day thus pray.
This basic ritual of prayer, what we Orthodox Christians call a “Prayer Rule”, might be just the thing you need to successfully include morning prayers into your morning ritual.

As we are quickly approaching the Feast of Christmas, and as we have been invited by the Church to increase our daily prayer to God, this is the perfect opportunity for you to rethink your morning ritual to include morning prayers. Give your spiritual father a call and ask him to establish a “Prayer Rule” for you to include in your DAILY morning ritual.

Then....go home and, following the advice of your spiritual father, begin following your new morning ritual. It will take a few weeks for the new ritual to take root in your life, but once established it will feel as if you’ve always “done it that way” and you’ll be living a new life in Christ.

Friday, December 12, 2014


During the holiday season, our mailboxes fill with special invitations from our friends and family to attend dinners and holiday celebrations. As soon as we receive the invitation, we look at our calendar to determine whether or not we can attend, that is, ‘IF’ we ‘WANT’ to attend the celebration at all. Our reaction to an invitation, once opened is what ‘ACTUALLY’ determines whether or not we will ever show up in the first place.

Some possible considerations when we receive a special invitation include:
  • Do we enjoy spending time with the host/hostess?
  • Would we rather be doing something else that evening?
  • Have we already been invited to attend a different celebration that evening?
  • ‘IF’ we have already received a different invitation, which host/hostess do we prefer?
  • Have we already said ‘YES’ to a different invitation and now we wish we had not?
  • Do we simply want to ‘keep our options open’ for that evening for a better offer?

There are many other possible considerations, but I think you get the idea.

Well...YOU HAVE BEEN INVITED to a special, the most special, celebration...

God has sent you a personal invitation to join Him at the table, not only for Christmas, but for every day for the rest of time. Will you respond to Him?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Your Sins are Forgiven

It goes without saying that the trials of life can weigh a person down. As every day passes, the weight of each small sin and mistake, takes its toll on our backs as we feel our burdens heavy upon our shoulders. Bent over under all the pressure, we just can’t seem to find the strength to look up at God and sing His praise. We may even be ashamed by some of our decisions in life, and we can’t lift ourselves up without God’s healing touch. We all enjoy hearing the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” from our Lord, and we all desire even more the healing touch of our Lord’s hand. Thankfully He has given us His Church and the Holy Sacraments through which we can feel His touch, and through the hands of our Father Confessor, we can not only feel God’s Grace, we can hear the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” and we can finally lift our eyes to God and give Him praise and thanks.

Friday, December 5, 2014

You Can’t Get There by Yourself

We live in a society that prides itself on independence. The very fabric of our great Nation is woven by the threads of self-government and self-accomplishments. Awards are given for “Man of the Year”, not “Group of the Year.” But we all know there are just some times we need help. There are just some things we can’t do by ourselves.

In the Gospel of Luke we hear, “There was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.” (Luke 13.11)) It wasn’t until Jesus reached out His hand, touched her, and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity,” (Luke 13.12) that she was able to stand straight and praise God.

So many times, we are weighed down by the burdens of life so much that it is all we can do to ‘get through the day’ let alone raise ourselves up and look upward toward Heaven. When we spend our time bent over staring at the ground, even the joy of birds singing can pass us by. We know we need help, but we either can’t admit it, or we don’t know how to get help. Thankfully for us, God STILL reaches His hand to us, through His Church, and touches us and looses us from our infirmity. Jesus Christ has given us His Church to help raise us up and praise God.

Turning to the Church Jesus said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20.23) The Church has reached out her hand to us through the Mystery of Holy Confession so that we can hear the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” and we will be loosed from our infirmity and we can be raised up to praise God. But we can’t get there by ourselves; we need the Church.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Come and See....There is Good News on the Horizon

When the Apostle Andrew saw Jesus Christ for the first time, he couldn’t help but run to his brother Simon Peter and tell him the Good News. “We have seen the Messiah!” The Apostles joyfully spread the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the world, even though their personal lives were filled with pain and suffering. Each of the Apostles, with the exception of Saint John the Theologian was martyred for sharing the Good News. Sometimes we the news really good? Just like the lives of the Holy Apostles, our lives are filled with pain and suffering, and we might wonder why Saint Paul told us to imitate him. The truth is that God has saved us from this pain and suffering and promised a NEW life with Him in Heaven. We haven’t been saved for this world; we have been saved from this world. All our pain and suffering is temporary. There’s Good News on the horizon; Come and See!