Orthodox Christians are typically shocked when I tell them that my favorite feast is the Transfiguration of Christ. Most assume that Pascha should be my ultimate religious holiday. Certainly, the Resurrection of Christ is the feast of feasts, but in my broken humanness, I find that I connect more to the story of Transfiguration and the many meanings it holds for my daily life. The humanness of Peter, James, and John and their eagerness to find ways to connect with the sensorially overwhelming message of their beloved teacher in this transtemporal moment of encounter, call to me as someone who is perpetually seeking and hiding from the face of God.
Last week, a miracle happened.
It was Sunday Liturgy.
I had quickly cut several flowers from my garden, secured them in my hair, and rushed to church. I venerated the icons and laid the flowers around them. As I passed by the large cross with Christ, I noticed a cobweb. With my scarf, I gently removed the cobwebs from the feet of Jesus. Suddenly, a stranger in the congregation started weeping.
After church, I asked her what happened. She said that when I was wiping the feet of the cardboard Jesus the real Jesus had appeared to her.
Then I started weeping that “out of the mouth of babes Thou hast ordained praise.” (Psalm 8)
"Who touched me?” Jesus said. He was walking through the city and crowds of people were following him eager to see this man, this healer and teacher who calms the sea and drives out demons.
Luke tells us the people were expecting him. His friends, the disciples, denied that he had been touched: they have no clue. Peter responds, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus says, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
When I was Episcopalian and a member of the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, I became a member of the healing ministry. We learned to be still, to hold our hands up to the head of the person before us, and feel the energy. We asked their name and what brought them to us. Then we laid our hands and said, “(Calling their name), I lay my hands upon you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, beseeching him to uphold you and fill you with his grace, that you may know the healing power of his love. Amen.”
Whenever I’m given a choice about reading one of the fifteen Old Testament passages during the Holy Saturday service, I always say, I’d really like to read #12! Is there any chance I could be assigned #12?
In the Eastern churches, that reading recounts the story of the Prophet Elisha and the wealthy woman who offers him hospitality, first giving him some food as he passed by and then building a guest room for him. (You can find it at 2 Kings 4: 8-37.)
The first time I met Empress Theodora was in Church History class. I found her fascinating, and I will show you why.
Empress Theodora is a saint in the Church, and her feast day is remembered on June 28 in the Syriac Orthodox Church. She was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Justinian. She lived during the sixth century and died in 548 AD.
There are two versions of her origin story - where did she come from and who were her parents? The Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Church have differing accounts of her background.
Since praying is one of the cornerstones of Orthodox spirituality, we are always on the lookout for ways to get better at it. This week’s blogger developed her prayer rule in an unexpected place. She has found a practice that works for her even while she, like all of us, is confronting these uncertain times. Are there ideas here that could work for you?