Thursday, February 27, 2014

Read-Along: Ask for the Ancient Paths

Dear Students and Friends,

We are still reading "Ask for the Ancient Paths," by James Guirguis. You can join us, too!

Read the lesson for Chapter 3.

Catch up with the introduction and other lessons on the Read-Along tab, above.

May your learning be blessed!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Preparing for Lent: Returning to God, Part 2

Dear Students and Friends,

This coming Monday we begin the Meat Fast, the last week before Lent and the Great Fast begins for us as Orthodox Christians. Let us continue to prepare for Lent, returning to God.

Looking back on this week, here is a prayer from Father Andrew at St Luke Church for us to reflect on the Prodigal Son, who represents us all in our state of separation from God.

Prayer of the week on the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32)

O Lord, we stand before You confessing our sins. You have taken our sins upon Yourself and nailed them to Your Cross. You have opened a way for us to return to Your father and made Your father our father. As we live in exile from our true home, we pray that You will make a place for us in Your heavenly kingdom when we return. We pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Bible Verse

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son." Luke 15:21-22

Bible Question

How is the parable a model for our Lenten experience?

You can receive one credit for reflecting on this prayer and answering the question. Send your answers to oandrey(at)aol(d0t)com and else10(at)gmail(d0t)com for credit.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Preparing for Lent: Returning to God

Dear Students and Friends,

We are on the countdown to Lent. To that effect, I find myself thinking of my own condition and my relationship with God; where am I, and where am I going? Today I found this article on Mystagogy: Orthodoxy and Modern Life - an Interview with Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia. In this article, Met. Nicholas speaks in a simple and direct way of how to be close to God, how Orthodoxy can meet that need, and how to live in today's bewildering and fallen world. I struggle with this question every single day. I'm sure you do, too.

I encourage you to read the article here. You will be blessed and it will put you in the frame of mind for Lent.

"The Church is saying: Let's put God in our life, let's trust in the presence of His love, let's lean our expectations and hopes on Him, and He will respond to everything: our deeper existential quests, our family or health problems, our daily needs." --Met. Nicholas

(School Activity: You can receive 2 credits for reading this article. Simply read, fill out the Article Worksheet, and email it to else10[at]gmail[dot]com.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Presentation in the Temple

Last week we celebrated the Presentation in the Temple feast, where Jesus is brought to the temple as an infant. St Simeon sees him and finds his promise from God fulfilled! St Anna sees him, she who has been waiting for him many years, and is comforted as well.

On this Sunday, called Candlemas in some countries, candles are also blessed signifying Christ as the Light of the World. Candlemas dates from ancient Celtic times, as the day also marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Our church adopted this date as a way to further the Gospel, as well.

Here are some more studies on this topic:

Here is the prayer of the week for reflection:

Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, the True Light, Who enlightens every man that comes into the world, pour out Your blessing on these candles, and hallow them by the light of Your Grace; and grant, O Merciful One, that as these lights, kindled with a visible flame, scatter the darkness of night, so also may our hearts, by an invisible fire, that is, enlightened by the glowing of the Holy Spirit, avoid the blindness of all manner of sin; so that we may see those things that are pleasing unto You, and availing for our salvation, with the cleansed eye of our soul, so that we, having overcome the darkness of this world, may be granted to attain to the light that never fades: For You are our Savior, and to You do we send up glory, with Your unoriginate Father, and Your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Bible Verse for this Prayer: "A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:32

Bible Question for this Prayer: What is the purpose of lighting candles in the church.

You can receive one credit for doing any of the studies or the prayer of the week. For the studies, complete the article worksheet, and send your completed work to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com. For the prayer, send in your answer to oandrey(at)aol(d0t)com and else10(at)gmail(d0t)com.

May your studies be blessed!