As part of our mini-series offering summer activities for our children, today’s suggestion is to take a day trip. Everyone enjoys a nice day trip to a favorite beach or nature walk, but have you ever considered a day trip to an area church? There are many beautiful Orthodox Churches close enough to your home for an inspirational and enjoyable day trip.
Summer can be a time filled with anxiety about the activities in which our children participate. School has come to an end for the year, and many of us will be searching for activities to help our children not only stay busy but keep them stimulated. Over the next few days I will try to offer ideas for summer activities for our youth and any other adult who wishes to give them a try. Today my suggestion is about reading.
In the Gospel, shortly before He ascended the Holy Cross, we hear how Christ promised the Holy Spirit would come and guide the Disciples “into all truth.” (John 16.13) As Christ ascended His Throne 40 days after His Resurrection, He urged the Church to wait for the Holy Spirit. For the past two thousand years, the Church has protected the truth of God, as revealed to the Holy Disciples by the Holy Spirit. You learn about God by reading the Holy Scriptures and hearing the witness of those who knew Him personally, but there is only one way to truly know God.
When God reveals Himself to us, as He did in the story of the healing of the man born blind in the Gospel of John, He allows us to use our free will to believe Him or not to believe Him. Then it is up to us to put that belief into action. Some “say” they believe, as the ancient Jews, but don’t follow that with action. When we see God revealed, will we believe and act?
We eventually learn in life that our bodies don’t always want what we offer them. Any casual trip to the refrigerator will prove that point. The same can be said about our soul. We go through life, searching and buying and never being satisfied. That is because out soul doesn’t want material things. Our soul craves God, and only when we offer our soul what it truly craves, will it ever be satisfied.
On the Third Sunday of Pascha, the Church commemorates the love, courage and faith of the Myrrhbearing Women, who before sunrise on the Day of Pascha, went to the tomb of Christ to anoint His Body. They didn’t take any men with them neither for protection, nor did they even consider how they were going to manage to remove the large stone from the tomb. They only took their faith, their courage and their love. When they arrived at the tomb, they found the stone had already been rolled away, and they found Jesus waiting for them nearby.
Eight days after Pascha, the Church continues with the story of Christ’s resurrection that it began to tell us during AGAPE Vespers of Pascha. The story in the Gospel tells how Thomas had missed the first report of Christ’s resurrection, and would not believe the news until he saw Christ for himself. For St Thomas, seeing was believing, but Christ says, “Because you have seen Me you believe? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” We have not seen Christ’s resurrected body, but still we believe. God will always give us what we need in order to believe.
As the Church celebrates the victorious entrance of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, we are forced to rethink how we think of kings. Unlike the secular kings of the world, our King is a different King. Unlike the modern examples of kings and other political leaders, our King is a different King. Our King leads His people to heaven, rather than dictating and oppressing them.
Today is a bittersweet day. On the one hand, the Church commemorates the fact that Christ died and was buried. One the other hand, we already know how the stories ends. On Holy and Great Saturday the Church commemorates the Descent into Hades by our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. While in Hades, He raised up Adam and Eve from death. It is a day to celebrate, but still a day of strict fasting.
On Holy and Great Friday the Church commemorates the Passion of Christ, the day on which He was hung on the cross, died and was buried. It is a day filled with emotion, and rich in tradition. Churches are filled with men, women and children preparing themselves and the Church for the Feast of Pascha. Whether it be oversized bunches of flowers, overflowing baskets of colored eggs, or the humming sound of the vacuum, today the Church is like a busy bee hive of activity. But today has got to be more than just activity.