Reflections in Christ

by Fr. Lawrence Farley

Unveiling the Scriptures – The Role of the Fathers

We conclude this series by examining the role of the Fathers in Christian Scriptural interpretation and by offering a threefold summary of our study.

The Role of the Fathers

The Church Fathers were a varied lot.  They lived in a number of different centuries, had very different personalities and gifts, spoke different languages, and wrote to…

Unveiling the Scriptures – The Christian Exegesis of the Old Testament

We now turn to a look at how Christians read the Old Testament.

The Christian Exegesis of the Old Testament

The Christian approach to the Old Testament shared with the Second Temple interpreters their approach to the Scriptures in that the Christians combed through the texts carefully to find hidden meanings—i.e. meanings not immediately…

Christmas and the Humility of Yahweh

To really appreciate and understand the Old Testament, one needs to place it in the religious and cultural context of the Ancient Near East.  Having done this, one can then see how much the Old Testament shares with that world and also how much it differs.

Take, for example, the Tabernacle that Yahweh commanded Moses to construct, the house and…

Unveiling the Scriptures – Second Temple Exegesis

We continue our study by a look at Scriptural exegesis during the period of the Second Temple.

Second Temple Exegesis

It is important to understand how the Scriptures were read during this period.  Because the Scriptures functioned as the repository of Israel’s poignant and sometimes desperate hopes, people read and re-read them carefully,…

Unveiling the Scriptures - The Period of the Kings

This series continues with an examination of the Scriptural tradition during the period of the kings of Israel.

The Period of the Kings

This situation began to slowly change under the kings of Israel and Judah.  There had always been prophets in Israel, but they functioned more as seers and diviners than as sources of theological revelation. …

Unveiling the Scriptures - The Mosaic Period

We continue this series with an examination of the Scriptures in the Mosaic period.

The Mosaic Period
   
It was with Moses that the first written records of God’s dealings with His people began to be written.  But even then, the main gift was that of presence, not message.  When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush, He came with fire, not…

Unveiling the Scriptures - Introduction

Some months ago it was arranged by the good people of the Russian Orthodox diocese of Souroz in Britain that I would give a talk at their diocesan conference at the end of this month entitled Unveiling the Scriptures.  That plan came to grief with the coming of the COVID virus which resulted in our government cancelling flights to Britain and the…

Praying to the Saints

When I first began to investigate Orthodoxy, my main stumbling block to conversion was prayer to Mary and the saints.  My Protestant formation had trained me (well, brainwashed me actually, for it was long on insistence and short on argument) that it was WRONG to pray to Mary and the saints.  Doing so constituted Idolatry (with a capital “I”),…

The Despair of Elijah

The Prophet Elijah (whose feast day is July 20) is perhaps best known for his final ascent to heaven in a chariot of fire.  He is also famous for being fed by a raven, and also for the dramatic contest on Mount Carmel.

This last event was arguably the pinnacle of his prophetic career.  Elijah served God in very dark days.  Israel had always carried…

Will You Remember Me?

Lately I was listening to Jann Arden’s poignant song Will You Remember Me? and it occurred to me that in one hundred years from now, no one would.  In this I am, of course, hardly unique:  in one hundred years from now, no one will remember you either, nor will they remember anyone currently reading this blog.  My children will remember me, and my…

The Outstretched Arms of Moses

After Israel was brought out of Egypt and as they journeyed to the foot of Mount Sinai, they faced a multitude of dangers in the howling wilderness.  They faced the threat of starvation as they slowly trudged southward through the west side of the Sinai peninsula, and in response God provided for them through the provision of manna.  They faced the…

How the Grinch Stole Pascha

The year 2020 will be remembered by Orthodox as the year without Pascha.  At the beginning of the year, and even at the beginning of Great Lent, it hardly seemed possible.  I remember the second Sunday of Great Lent here at St. Herman’s.  We had served the Liturgy of St. Basil and commemorated St. Gregory Palamas.  We were looking forward to the…

Did God Send the Covid Virus as a Judgment?

In the sometimes over-abundant discussion now taking place about the current Covid virus, one sometimes hears the assertion that God has sent Covid 19 as a judgment upon us for our sins to make us repent.  What are we to make of this?

First of all, repentance is always a good idea.  More than that, it is the usual lifestyle for Christians. …

The Good Place

I have just finished watching the series finale of a wonderful television show called The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.  It features the fellowship and adventures of a few people who die and end up in hell, but who are told that they are in heaven, the Good Place—all the better to torture them in hell.  Eventually they do…

The Annunciation

St. Ignatius of Antioch, martyred in Rome in about the year 107, wrote that along with the death of the Lord, the virginity of Mary and her giving birth were mysteries that were hidden from the ruler of this age, and were accomplished in the silence of God (To the Ephesians, 19.1). That is, their full significance were not immediately perceived by…

Covid Catechesis

As I write these words, we are under effective lockdown because of the spread of the Corona Virus, often referred to as “Covid 19”.  In the current absence of a vaccine, the health departments of the various governments here in Canada have determined that the only way to slow the spread of the disease is by “social distancing”—i.e. by…

“You are gods”

A dear friend of mine suggested that I might be interested in the Biblical exegesis of Mike Heiser (of whom I had never heard), so I looked up some of his works available on Amazon.  Amazon allows one to peruse the initial chapters of the books they offer for sale, so I was able to look at the first chapters of Heiser’s The Unseen Realm.  There I…

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

Anyone wandering about near a freezing cold pond one night near the city of Sebaste in the year 320 would have seen an astounding sight:  forty Roman soldiers, all members of the so-called “Thundering Legion”, were standing together naked in the icy waters throughout the night as they slowly froze to death.  They were guarded by other Roman…

Windsor Castle:  a Change in Perspective

In 1992, a spotlight was left too close to a curtain in Windsor Castle in England, and the heat from that spotlight caused the curtain to catch fire.  Before the fire was extinguished, much of the eleventh century castle built originally by William the Conqueror was in ruins, including St. George’s Hall and the royal Private Chapel.  Repairs,…

Will We See our Pets in Heaven?

I suspect that every pastor has been asked this question at one time or another, and it usually comes from one of the more junior members of the congregation who has just lost his beloved cat or dog.  (The loss of goldfish seems not to provoke the same level of theological curiosity.)  It is important for pastors to realize that the child asking the…