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Messages - J. Thomas Shelley

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Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: Yesterday at 05:28:53 PM »

Statement Regarding Developments in Medicine: COVID-19 Vaccines & Immunizations

Friday, January 22, 2021

Christ "came not to heal the healthy, but the sick; not to save the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17)

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, we are ever grateful to the frontline workers – including medical professionals, emergency responders, and scientists – for their unwavering dedication to making the world a better place.

In light of the same, given our clergy and lay faithful are seeking archpastoral guidance regarding developments in medicine, such as COVID-19 vaccines and immunizations, we offer the following guidance:

Scripture encourages us to respect and protect the body as the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). At the same time, it discourages us from either tempting or testing the Lord (Matt. 4:7). And as your spiritual shepherds, we affirm and assure you that it is neither wrong nor sinful to seek medical attention and advice. In fact, we welcome interventions that provide us more time for spiritual renewal and repentance.

We therefore encourage all of you – the clergy and lay faithful of our Church – to consult your physicians in order to determine the appropriate course of action for you, just as you do for surgeries, medications, and vaccinations, in cancer treatments and other ailments. Indeed, while your own bishop, priest, or spiritual father remains prepared to assist you with spiritual matters, your personal doctor will guide your individual medical decisions.

We trust that whatever course of action you and your doctor decide upon will also benefit the rest of the community. If we work together – in a spirit of sincere compassion and care for one another – we will soon be able to gather together as a full community in our churches once again. We miss you very much and eagerly await the day when we can all exchange the kiss of peace in the Divine Liturgy!

Conveying our paternal blessings with love in the Lord,

Archbishop Elpidophoros, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Metropolitan Joseph, Vice-Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Archbishop Michael, Treasurer
Orthodox Church in America

Metropolitan Gregory, Secretary
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA

Bishop Irinej
Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central and South America

Metropolitan Nicolae
Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas

Metropolitan Joseph
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia

Bishop Saba
Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church in North America

Metropolitan Tikhon
Orthodox Church in America​

Your Turn / Re: For the Upcoming Festival of St. Paul’s Conversion
« on: January 25, 2021, 12:37:50 PM »
And, as I noted on another thread, Athanasius' Commemoration is the other "bookend" to the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity on the Orthodox sanctoral calendar

Your Turn / Re: For the Upcoming Festival of St. Paul’s Conversion
« on: January 25, 2021, 12:09:08 PM »
P.S. Check out St. Gregory’s take on the canon of Scripture: The original Greek is given there, interspersed with the English. Fascinating, eh?

Very fascinating:   Revelation is not listed, nor are the Septuagint texts now relegated to the Apochrypha in some Bibles.

Your Turn / Re: For the Upcoming Festival of St. Paul’s Conversion
« on: January 25, 2021, 11:25:38 AM »
Today the Orthodox Church Commemorates Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople.

His fourth century wisdom offers a fitting lens for viewing the Western Feast of St. Paul:

"These three things God requires of all the baptized:
right faith in the heart,
truth on the tongue,
temperance in the body."

 - St. Gregory the Theologian

Your Turn / Re: For the Upcoming Festival of St. Paul’s Conversion
« on: January 24, 2021, 11:22:13 PM »
Interesting factoid:   Other than Leap Years, the Feasts of the Conversion of St. Peter, the Confession of St. Paul, and Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles occur on the same day of the week.   Meaning that if one follows LBW rubrics there are two chances to preach about the pillars of the Apostles on a Sunday in the same year.

Your Turn / Re: Dr. Carl Schalk - Rest in Peace
« on: January 24, 2021, 05:26:32 PM »
One of my favorite Lenten organ pieces is a simple setting of Christe, Du Lamm Gottes which he shared with the Lorenz publication The Organist's Companion.

The middle section is best played without strict rhythm, feeling the embellished phrases.

My he enjoy the Eternal Peace won by the Victorious Lamb!

Your Turn / Re: Scott Weidler, RIP
« on: January 24, 2021, 01:06:38 PM »
"Among the saints give rest, O Lord, to the soul of your servant,
where there is no sighing nor pain but Life Everlasting"

Scott served as the first full time musician of Good Shepherd, Lancaster.  From the "timeline" section of the parish website:  "LCGS Council votes to seek a full-time church musician to be responsible for all aspects of music in the parish, and on 1 Aug 1989 Mr. Scott Weidler begins service as Cantor."

Lower Susquehanna Synod was blessed to have received his musical ministrations at many Bishop's Convocations and Synod Assemblies.

Your Turn / Re: For the Upcoming Festival of St. Paul’s Conversion
« on: January 23, 2021, 11:16:15 PM »
And from the East bank....we do not celebrate a Feast for the Conversion of St. Paul per se; but his conversion is theme within the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, Apostles, on the 29th of June.

From the Akathist to Sts. Peter and Paul:

Hearing a voice from heaven, O Saul, thou wast thereafter unable to see; for thou hadst adversely persecuted the Inaccessible One and didst receive blindness of thine eyes in return for thy zeal for the law; but, guided to the font, thou didst attain unto divine baptism, where, having been immersed with faith, the sight of thy bodily and spiritual eyes was restored.  Wherefore, mindful of thy miraculous calling, we cry out to thee:

Rejoice, O apostles called by God, sent forth to preach to all the nations;
Rejoice, chosen vessel which pourest forth the sweetness of the Faith of Christ upon all men!
Rejoice, beholder of the divine Light which illumineth from on high;
Rejoice, thou who more than others wast enlightened by grace after the shadow of the Old Covenant!
Rejoice, thou who on earth didst converse with the Lord Jesus Who appeared to thee;
Rejoice, thou who with His strength didst dare to denounce them that were adamant in their unbelief!
Rejoice, thou who hast enlightened the whole world with thy divinely wise writings;
Rejoice, thou who, following Christ, didst labor more than others for the salvation of man!
Rejoice with Paul, O Peter, for ye overshadow the holy Church as the two cherubim did the ark;
Rejoice, ye who stand before the throne of the Most High like two seraphim!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, for ye are like the heavens which proclaim the glory of God;
Rejoice, for ye are the stars which crown the Church, the Bride of Christ!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!

Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: January 22, 2021, 09:12:52 PM »
Agreed.  In all these decades of dealing with folks going through the grief process, the one learning is that you can't wedge it in a box and tell it to go away.  After September 11 a couple of our pastors said they were done with any grief and remembrance around Thanksgiving, 2001.  Moving on.  I wondered aloud whether they had asked their congregants about that timeline.  Of course, the answer was no. 

Dave Benke

Our departed sister in Christ Eileen Smith did wonderful service to us all in keeping the 9-11-01 stories before us and drawing us into those weeks of pain and loss.

I miss her very much.

Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 11:16:40 AM »
We seem to assume that the spiritual and material are so easily divided when they really aren’t.  We have learned to compartmentalize faith really well...

Indeed. See the recent discussion on weddings.

And that mentality led to the categorization of churches and their ministries as "non-essential" last spring--and the capitulation of too many to that characterization.

Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 21, 2021, 05:26:00 PM »
This is a matter of trivia. Anybody know what translation or edition of the Bible President Biden used today? I was reported to be 172 (best I can I recall) years old and from his family. It appeared to be very, very old and 5-6 inches thick.

Peace, JOHN

My guess would be the Vulgate. Wasn't that the only Bible for Roman Catholics back then?

Upon further research, the Douay-Rheims Bible is an English translation from the Vulgate that was first completed in 1610. It was revised by Richard Challoner (1691–1781) in the mid 1700s.

Douay-Rheims clearly visible on the spine:

Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 20, 2021, 06:43:16 PM »
A few here may recall that a decade ago I sojourned briefly (yet never officially) with the Anglican Church of North America; which has kindly continued to include me in their mailings both print and electronic.

I was hesitant to open an email today titled "Inauguration Day message from Archbishop Foley Beach" but I found it a most refreshing surprise:

January 20, 2021

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As our nation inaugurates a new President and Vice-President, and begins a new session of Congress, let us speak to God on behalf of our nation. I recommend the following prayers from the Book of Common Prayer 2019 as a start.

#37. For the President and All in Civil Authority, p. 657

O Lord our Governor, whose glory fills all the world: We commend this Nation to your merciful care, that we may be guided by your providence, and dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of this Nation, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them continually mindful of their calling to serve this people in reverent obedience to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

#38. For Congress or A State Legislature, p. 657

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: So guide and bless our Senators and Representatives assembled in Congress, that they may enact laws pleasing in your sight, to the glory of your Name and the welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

#41. For Cities, Towns, and Other Communities, p. 658

Heavenly Father, you sent your Son among us to proclaim the kingdom of God in cities, towns, villages, and lonely places. Behold and visit, we pray, the communities throughout these United States of America. Renew the bonds of charity that uphold our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Deliver us from poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with mercy. And at the last, bring us to your Holy City, the new Jerusalem, where we shall know perfect unity and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate

Your Turn / Re: Church and weddings...
« on: January 19, 2021, 12:07:50 AM »
So, here's a new wrinkle that literally just came up in conversation within the last two days...

An elderly couple, facing the type of situation I described (marriage would end the benefits of both pension and Social Security for the wife), is married by their pastor in the church but never chooses to be married in the eyes of the state. A new pastor comes. The new pastor declares that because they never filed the marriage license, they are not married in God's eyes either.


From the East Bank of the Bosporus:

The Sacrament of Marriage in the Orthodox Church is received passively by the couple, who, mutely, exchange no vows, exchange no rings (directly), and whose nuptial kiss occurs ONLY after the final benediction.  The Sacrament is mediated solely through the ministrations of the Priest.

In the Western tradition the couple marries each other through THEIR exchange of vows and THEIR exchange of rings, to which the Priest/Pastor is but the primary witness; except for those jursidictions when s/he says "By the power vested in me by the State/Commonwealth of...I now pronounce you...."

So prima facie it appears as though this Western presbyter is attempting to impose an Eastern understanding on something which by all Lutheran Confessional teachings is NOT to be regarded as Sacramental.

Might be clear as my creek after a two inch rainfall.

Your Turn / Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2021
« on: January 17, 2021, 08:20:44 PM »
The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity has begun, with tonight's Vesperal anticipation of the Feast.

In the West, the Octave begins with The Confession of St. Peter on January 18 and closes with The Conversion of St. Paul on January 25.

For new calendar Orthodox, the Octave begins with the Commemoration of Sts. Athanasios and Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, on January 18th and closes with the Commemoration of St. Gregory the Theologian on January 25.

There is, at first glance, a cognitive dissonance with beginning a period promoting Christian Unity by commemorating two Patriarchs who engaged fiercely against the heretics.  Athanasios was a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians; Cyril an equally staunch defender against the Nestorians and Seballians (the latter two denounced in the Confession of Augsburg).

In short, the Patriarchs sought unity within orthodoxy, not some mushy "let's hold hands and sing Kum-by-yah" coexistence with those who would deny the divinity of Christ, and, by extension, the naming of His mother as Theotokos.

+ + +

This year, of course, the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity is overshadowed by American national disunity.   The nation's capital has been turned into an armed has nearly every State capital to a greater or lesser degree.

In this terrible context, the 9th Ode of the Katavasias of the Meeting (Presentation) of the Lord takes on a new layer of meaning, a greater urgency, and a deeper longing:

Ode ix. Katavasia. Mode 3.

Theotokos, as the hope
of us Christians, one and all,
guard and shelter and protect
those who put their hope in you.

O believers, come let us perceive
a type in the law, and the shadow and the letter.
 Every male that opens the womb shall be holy to God.
So the unoriginate Father's firstborn Logos and Son,
who is the firstborn of the Mother who knew not man, we magnify.

"Guard, shelter, and protect"

"Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States"....SO HELP US GOD!

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: January 17, 2021, 12:39:20 PM »
Crude executive summary of my Moderna I experience:

<8 hours = no issues "felt like Superman"
9 - 28 hours = worst hangover of my life (chills, total loss of appetite, off and on headaches)
29 - 28 hours = "is this menopause...what are these hot flashes?"
29 + hours = back to normal

Very crude Reader's Digest condensed version: For the next day and half felt hungover with menopause.

Individual reactions will be as unique as our fingerprints; nevertheless, my counsel is:
Do not schedule anything important within 36 hours of receiving the vaccine.

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