Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Astrological Musings on Christmas
by Basil the Fly

Here it is Christmas, the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, and yet we are striving again as week minded people to find some sort of rational and scientific explanation of the miraculous. Supposedly we believe that today we celebrate the coming-in-the flesh of the God of all the Universe. What a miracle this is: that the God who rules over all, in whom is all power and all majesty and all glory and all life, and yet he has humbled himself and taken upon Himself the lowly form of a servant, a man, made of clay, insignificant in all the universe, and yet made in the image and likeness of God. We proclaim this miracle today, and yet in weakness of faith we cannot believe other less significant miracles?

Take for instance the Star.

The Scriptures say such things as:
Matthew 2:2
"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

Matthew 2:7
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

Matthew 2:9
After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

Note that last one especially. We see here an actual moving star. One that has traversed some distance and then come to rest over the place where the Child was. Wow! Now that's amazing also.

If we believe in a God of Miracles, then why do we trivialize things by trying to explain them away? Oh, we are so enlightened now that we comprehend history. This star was not a miracle, it was not a comet that happened along thousands of years ago at just the right moment, no, it was simple astrology through which the Magi of the East learned of the event of the Birth of The Great King. Much like today we take up The Enquirer, and discover whether it is a day to wear a pink dress or a red one. Idiocy!

If the God who holds the Universe in the palm of His Hand wants to create a miraculous event in the heavens that cannot be ascribed to scientific circumstances, can He not? If the God who changed the chemical elements of water into that of wine wants to place a star in the Heavens, can He not? If the God who made water as if it were solid as earth and then walked upon it, wishes to send along a strange comet that instead of sweeping past the earth stops in one place, can He not?

We do not (like the Protestants? Muslims? Catholics?) believe in a God who is held prisoner by the laws of order he has built into this universe. Therefore, let us not trivialize His coming in the flesh by trying to scientifically explain insignificant little miracles that were a part of the Grand Announcement of that coming.

Christ is Born!
Glorify Him!

and Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 23, 2002

Some thoughts on confession

I just came across a fine article on confession at the Holy-Trinity (San Francisco) web site:

Here as an excerpt:

A young monk complained to the great ascetic Abba Sisoes: "Abba, what should I do? I fell." The elder answered: "Get up!" The monk said: "I got up, and I fell again!" The elder replied: "Get up again!" But the young monk asked: "For how long should I get up when I fall?" "Until your death," answered Abba Sisoes.

The process of confession is not a "requirement" to be fullfilled in order to be "a member in good standing" in the Orthodox Church. It is rather, an ordinary part of "walking" on the path of salvation. Often as we walk, we fall. When we fall, we must get back up again. This getting back up again, is confession.

There is the unfortunate circumstance today of certain diocese in the Orthodox Church "requiring" their parishoners to go to confession a certain number of times per year, or before certain feasts, and so on. This sort of trivializing the faith, by making it into a mere set of rules and requirements, has happened in parts of the Orthodox Church due to the unfortunate influence of Western (specifically Roman Catholic) theology in which everything in the Christian faith is seen from a juridicial perspective.

But it is not so in the Orthodox Church. Sure there are canons and rules for fasting and daily life, but such things are there to gently guide us along the path of salvation: rather like a hand-railing along the path, and not like the a heavy yoke placed upon us by a taskmaster.