Steve Robinson tells the Gospel with two chairs as props. Actually, he tells two versions. Continue reading “The Gospel in Chairs”
Today, the Orthodox Christian world continues the “Lenten Triodion,” the cycle of services that prepare us for, and guide us through, Great Lent.
Our preparation continues with reflection on Christ’s story of the Prodigal Son, as told in Luke 15: 11-32. The hymns of last evening’s Vespers and this morning’s Matins include particular hymns based on the story.
Rich and fertile was the earth allotted to us,
but all we planted were the seeds of sin.
We reaped the sheaves of evil with the sickle of laziness;
we failed to place them on the threshing floor of sorrow.
Now we beg You, O Lord, eternal Master of the harvest:
“May your love become the breeze to winnow the straw of our worthless deeds!
Make us like the precious wheat to be stored in heaven,
and save us all!”
Brothers, our purpose is to know the power of God’s goodness.
For when the Prodigal Son abandoned his sin,
he hastened to the refuge of his father.
That good man embraced him and welcomed him;
he killed the fatted calf and celebrated with heavenly joy.
Let us learn from this example
to offer thanks to the Father, Who loves all men,
and to the glorious Victim, the Savior of our souls!
What great blessings have I forsaken, wretch that I am?
From what kingdom have I miserably fallen?
I have squandered the riches that were given me;
I have transgressed the commandments.
Woe to me when I shall be condemned to eternal fire!
Cry out to Christ, O my soul, before the end draws nigh:
“Receive me as the Prodigal, O God, and have mercy on me!”
Like the Prodigal Son, I too have returned
after spending my whole life away from home.
I have scattered the wealth that You gave me, merciful Father.
Accept me as I repent, O God, and have mercy on me!
I, a wretched man, hide my face in shame:
I have squandered the riches my Father gave to me;
I went to live with senseless beasts;
I sought their food and hungered, for I had not enough to eat.
I will arise, I will return to my compassionate Father;
He will accept my tears, as I kneel before Him, crying:
“In Your tender love for all men, receive me as one of Your servants and save me!”
The riches of Your gifts of grace, which You gave me, the wretched one,
I squandered badly, O Savior,
since without cause I departed and lived in great extravagance.
The demons tricked me to disperse.
And therefore as the Prodigal, I am returning.
Receive me, O loving Father, and save me.
The wealth You gave to me, O Lord,
I squandered and I spent it all.
And I the wretch have submitted myself to the wicked demons.
O Savior all-compassionate, take pity on this Prodigal.
And make me clean, for I am stained.
And give me again my former robe of Your rule and kingdom.
Today, the Orthodox Christian world begins the “Lenten Triodion,” the cycle of services that prepare us for, and guide us through, Great Lent. Continue reading “Publican and Pharisee”
All the hymns of the Orthodox Church are remarkably rich theologically, especially in paradox and in typology. Rarely does one get the sense that the hymnographer is trying directly to play on the hearer’s emotions; any emotional “uplift” comes from contemplation of the holy mysteries evoked by the hymns.
So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of God and worshiped Him.
II Kingdoms 13:5 (Septuagint; II Samuel 13:5 in KJV and others) Continue reading “Arose .. and worshiped”
From W. H. Auden’s For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio, musings of the Righteous Simeon, who held the Christ child at the temple and then prayed the Nunc Dimitis: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people, Israel. Continue reading “Simeon”
From W. H. Auden’s For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio, excerpts from further into the poem than prior days’ excerpts:
From W. H. Auden’s For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio, excerpts from a section on The Nativity Star and the Three Wise Men: Continue reading “The Star and the Wise Men”
From W. H. Auden’s For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio, excerpts from a section on the Annunciation. This is not a hack writing sentimental doggerel; the poetry deeply probes this foundational mystery of the Faith, and the indispensable role a young Jewish maiden, with terror and rejoicing, played in our redemption.