Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Article: What is worship for?

Dear Students and Friends,

Today I received an e-mail with Orthodox author Frederica Matthewes-Green's answer to the question, What is worship for?

A pastor in the UK wrote me [Frederica] asking, “What is worship for?” He said that his denomination was encouraging pastors to make worship more “user-friendly” in order to attract new members, and that this initially seemed to him a reasonable evangelistic strategy. A scripture cited in support of this approach was Acts 15:19, “We should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God.” But as he read this scripture in context, it looked to him like it was written of people who were already Christian believers, and would not be required to accept Jewish practices. It didn’t address the case of people entirely outside the faith. He wrote to ask, “Who are church services for? Believers or unbelievers?”

This is a question we may all ask ourselves sometimes as we see how others who are not Orthodox conduct their worship services. We all need the reminder now and then that worship is about God--not ourselves. This is our greatest witness.

Read the rest of the article now.

Thought Questions

  1. Why do I worship?
  2. How can I help others understand what worship is about?
  3. If worship is holy, what should my conduct be in church?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Read: Sermon on the Nativity of the Theotokos

Dear Students and Friends,

This week we continue celebrating the birth of Mary, the Mother of God. But why do we celebrate? What is so remarkable about this woman?

Alexander Schmemann has written a brief sermon on Mary's nativity that answers these questions and more. Now you can read the sermon and receive credit for answering some questions about it.

Read the sermon now.

To receive one credit for reading this sermon, answer the three questions below and e-mail your responses to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com. May your reading be blessed!

Questions on the Sermon
  1. When considering Mary, what is the Western Church's focus? What is the Eastern church's focus?
  2. Why is Jesus' humanity important, and who does He get it from?
  3. How is this feast a "general celebration of man's birth"?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

And the School Year Begins! Podcast

Dear Students and Friends,

Welcome to another year of the School of the 70!

I was delighted to find a podcast to start off our new school year. Titled, "Surprised by Christ," with Fr James Bernstein, author of a book describing his journey from Judaism to Orthodoxy. We've featured this book for credit before, but I think it's nice to hear directly from this author.

Listen to the podcast now.

About the book, Amazon says:

Raised in Queens, New York by formerly Orthodox Jewish parents whose faith had been undermined by the Holocaust, Arnold Bernstein went on his own personal quest for spiritual meaning. He was ready to accept God in whatever form He chose to reveal Himself and that form turned out to be Christ. But Bernstein soon perceived discrepancies in the various forms of Protestant belief that surrounded him, and so his quest continued -- this time for the true Church. Surprised by Christ combines an engrossing memoir of one man's life in historic times and situations from the Six-Day War to the Civil Rights Movement to the Jesus Movement in Berkeley with an examination of the distinctives of Orthodox theology that make the Orthodox Church the true home not only for Christian Jews, but for all who seek to know God as fully as He may be known.

You can earn credits for listening to the podcast (1 credit) and/or for reading the book (2 credits). To earn podcast credit, simply listen to the podcast, fill out the podcast worksheet, and e-mail it to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com. To earn book credit, simply read the book, fill out the General Worksheet for Books, and e-mail it to the same address.

Learning about how others find Orthodoxy encourages us and gives us fodder for witnessing to others. Don't miss this book!