Reflections in Christ

by Fr. Lawrence Farley

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…

Sheep Dog or Guard Dog?

In an issue of the Road to Emmaus journal I read a wonderful interview with Fr. Artemy Vladimirov, a priest in Moscow, in which he spoke at length about the sacrament of confession.  In it he spoke of the well-intentioned but ultimately false and unhelpful zeal of some confessors who felt “like the archangel with a burning sword guarding the…

The Lord’s Prayer:  The Final Doxology

For most English speaking people in our culture, the Lord’s Prayer ends with the words, “For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.”  This is, however, an ecclesiastical and liturgical conclusion, not a part of the original Lord’s Prayer.  That does not mean, of course, that the ekkesia should omit the…

The Lord’s Prayer: “Lead Us Not into Temptation, but Deliver Us from Evil”

The next petition in the Lord’s Prayer is, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. These two conjoined sentences should be considered as a single petition in Hebrew poetic parallelism, like the earlier petition, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, because in the Lukan version we read only…

The Lord’s Prayer:  “Forgive Us our Trespasses”

We come now in our series on the Lord’s Prayer to the petition, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  This rendering could perhaps use a little help.  It might be more accurately and literally rendered, “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors”.  It is a brief enough petition, but within it…

St. Basil the Great Polemicist

It is easy looking back at St. Basil and his patristic compatriots from such a distance to forget that they too lived in times of struggle and uncertainty.  As we look back at the fourth century we can view it as the beginning of Byzantium, the start of a long stretch of glorious Christian ascendency, and we somehow assume that they knew at the…

The Lord’s Prayer:  “Give Us This Day our Daily Bread”

We continue with our examination of the Lord’s Prayer, and come now to the petition, “Give us today our daily bread”.  One might be tempted to wonder what one could say about this petition by way of elaboration or explanation, since it seems pretty straightforward.  I suggest, however, three things.

First of all, that little word,…