Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bite your tongue!



"True escape from the world is for a person to know how to control his tongue, wherever he might be" Abba Tithoes

Recently, I came across an article about human sex-trafficking that really disturbed me. The issue itself is a major problem on its own, besides what happens as a result of it - to the family, the girls, their future. As I read the article, I kept getting more and more sick to my stomach. Why would someone make a beautiful young girl do this? You'd think that maybe a regular person would not be able to relate to something like sex-trafficking, until I continued to read on.

 "I've always been viewed as a h*. Once you’re called something enough, it’s like ‘Well, I already am.’

Can you believe that? From the amount of times she was called something, she kind of took on that form because it was all she heard! What I've seen recently starting with middle school kids, possibly even earlier, is that friends call friends with all these types of derogatory terms. It starts off with things that we think are okay, such as 'dummy, idiot, etc' and turns into 'b****, sl** wh***' - all common jargon in a public school hallway nowadays. Even being around that can hurt us. St Antony the Great said, "Whoever receives a man speaking evil or a calumniator, associates with a murderer." Did you catch that? Associates with a MURDERER!

One story my priest told me once, and I'll never forget, has to do with controlling what we say --
There was once a boy who used to curse a lot to others, and his father told him that for every curse he said, he had to put a nail in the fence surrounding their house. Before you know it, the whole fence was full. The young boy noticed his wrongdoing and tried to change. His father told him that for every day he didn't curse, he could take a nail out of the fence. Finally, after a long time, the fence was clear of all the nails. 'Daddy, daddy, look! the nails are gone!' His father was very pleased, but told the son, 'Now, take a look at the fence, all the nails are out, but those holes will remain forever'.

That story will always be in the back of my mind, alongside with what this young girl said. Maybe, if we start calling each other saints, it can work the other way--- ya think?

Monday, July 1, 2013

The most SUCCESSFUL UNSUCCESSFUL event



"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor" - Truman Capote

Failure is relative. Of course not when it comes to an exam or anything of the like, but in many cases it is relative. Some people thrive from failures, some stay down, some are motivated, and some just frown. (Didn't mean for that to rhyme, but why not!).

In terms of service to God, several people have different ways of gauging whether they 'succeeded' or 'failed'. If a lot of people showed up, if there were enough chairs, if the prep was done properly, if people were baptized, or anything. God never ceases to amaze me that truly, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiaih 55:8-9

Yesterday in my parish, we held our first big local community event. We planned for a huge outdoor BBQ and a 'Movie under the stars'. We did EVERYTHING to make sure this day was perfect. From Google docs to Google hangouts, from early advertising to last minute Costco runs, we were ready. What we wanted to do was to just show our local community (Stony Point, NY) that WE as the Church were there for them. God cared for us, so we should care for them. We had no hidden agenda, no undercover Bible study, just wanted to share God's love with those around us. So from the preparation to the presentation, (man, i'm on a roll with rhyming today huh!), everything was executed perfectly. We split up into teams for games, decorations, food, welcome table, tour guides, parking, everything. We had pamphlets made, sign in sheets, individually wrapped chocolate. We EVEN had a bouncy house. After prayer and prep, we were ready - at 5:30, we were just waiting for the swarm of people to come in. The plan was to come in, meet some people, enjoy a free BBQ and watch Despicable Me on a huge outdoor movie screen that we rented, next to a bon fire with smores. There was not a detail left undone.

We handed out over 450 flyers, going from house to house and then the local police and fire department, the delis and bagel stores, the ice cream shops and shop rites, we did it all. We even went to the local library to hang up a flyer, and the people who worked there had already heard about the event, it had actually become to talk of the town! Now, what do you think happened? Not a SINGLE person showed up, can you believe that? Let's think about this, if we had spread the word so much and people had agreed to come and even to the point where people knew about it that we didn't advertise to, we would expect AT THE MINIMUM, one or two families. No, not one person from the community showed up. Is that a coincidence? I think the only way possible that nobody came, is that it was an act of God, it must have been. What are the chances that zero people show up, if we had verbal agreements from people, flyers, word of mouth, everything. In my opinion, God didn't want anybody to come that day.

What was my take-away? Unity. Throughout the book of Acts, the phrase 'in one accord' is said many times. That's how our team was. From praying together for no rain, to meetings, to dividing responsibilities, we were on the same page. One thing I'm very proud of, is that the group wasn't discouraged. We ended up eating some food and watching the movie on the lawn anyway, (just to get ready for Despicable Me 2 this week!). God has a plan for this group, a great plan, and I think without this SUCCESS, we wouldn't have seen it. We would've thought we did everything by our own efforts. Yes we would've 'thanked God', but inside we would've been so proud of ourselves.

Food for thought? - "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good" Gen 50:20. God has different plans than we do most of the time. Whether its to be thrown in a pit to later become a leader - or to have no one show up to your party to later finding space to accommodate 3,000 people - God ALWAYS has a plan. Don't ever give up or be discouraged when you are serving God. So was this a failure? Nah, just one big step in the right direction!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pentecost 3000 - We're back in 2013!!



"...and the Lord added daily to the church those who were being saved" Acts 2:47




Hello all! I hope everyone is partaking of the Holy 50 days with feasts upon feasts - for your spirit of course, not just body ;)

Now its time to put to practice what we've gained during lent and are absorbing during these Holy 50 Days, which is also known as the Pentecost Period.

Last year, parishes from all over the world, including USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, Kenya, Australia, and many others partook of what the Lord commanded us to do and empowered the disciples and us on the day of Pentecost.

This year, we invite you all to help us continue the work that Jesus Christ started and lets fully anamnesis, (re-live) the Feast of Pentecost!


Excited?! I am! Just imagine if hundreds of parishes throughout the world, held an outreach event to share the love of God with their local communities, all on the same day - Pentecost! The possibilites are ENDLESS to make this Pentecost unforgettable. We'll declare with our actions that famous line of the Orthodox Creed "Yes, we believe in the Holy Spirit", and really see His divine ability to change the world and bring people to know the truth of who Jesus Christ is.

For more info on how to get started, please visit www.pentecost3000.com for all your needs. There is downloadable starter kits, information pamphlets, flyers to advertise, everything you need!

Any other questions, email info@pentecost3000.com