As a high school science teacher, one of the courses that I love to teach is Environmental Science and Field Biology. I also teach at a Christian high school and love the opportunity to challenge the students to think about what it means to really live as a Christian.
Predictably, by the end of the first semester, students begin to ask “This all can seem so overwhelming, what can we possibly do? Isn’t it too late to reverse the worst of climate change?”
My first answer is that despair (and its siblings cynicism and doubt) is exactly how the Evil One wants us to respond. Despair is easy, it absolves us of any requirement of true repentance. It’s too big, it’s too complex, there are so many other factors…
We are really excited to report that Axia Women has a new logo! If you have a few moments, we’d like to walk you through how the elements were chosen.
I have been exploring words, to discern their close meaning—“Holy” is the third in the series. The gift of words we have received from God, I have realized, is a very serious gift, if not the most important. It is through words that we name things, seek to understand them, and then communicate concepts to each other. By means of the “Word” God reveals himself to us. As “Word” Jesus came to us as both the Son of Man and Son of God. So now I would like to examine the word “Holy.”
As someone who was raised Protestant and came to Orthodoxy as an adult, I didn’t grow up with a relationship with the Mother of God. In fact, I avoided her for years. I’m a former academic, so perhaps it makes sense that I only really connected with her personally listening to the rather academically oriented sermons of Fr John McGuckin. At his parish, the St Gregory the Theology mission in NYC, he made a striking point on more than one occasion: that in all likelihood Jesus received his theological training from his mother. She is not only the source of his humanity, but also the one who raised him in his relationship to the faith.
From the time I was a little girl, I loved the beauty that filled our church. Icons with their golden halos shimmered on the walls. The analoi were covered in rich brocades, or embroideries.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Those are the first words of St. John’s Gospel. Then in Psalm 119, the center piece of Orthodox Funerals, we read again and again about God’s Word. For example: ”Your word, O Lord, is eternal.” (verse 89) And again, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (verse 108). "Word" is spoken about over and again in Scripture, so it becomes apparent that the gift of “word,” God gave us humans, is pretty serious. Not only does Word refer to the Son of God who creates via a Word, but he reveals himself to us through word into our conscious mind.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:11)
As the days of Advent draw us closer to the feast of the Nativity, we live in anticipation, preparing ourselves and our homes for celebration. Like the three kings following a star, we too are on a journey to welcome and worship the Christ Child, the newborn king. What do we know about the precious gifts brought to Him?