Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of the British Isles and  Ireland
"the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."

[Acts 11:26] 

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Deanery 2008 Archive

July

(1)  A Sermon of Metropolitan John on the occasion of the Consecration of the Holy Archangel Michael's Church, Audley, UK on Sunday, 11th August 2002.

"In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beloved,

I greatly rejoice in seeing you again in this beautiful parish and in the holy church. First, I would like to relay to you the blessing and love of His Eminence, beloved brother, Metropolitan Gabriel who wishes you all prosperity and well-being.

We meet today to consecrate this church. We offer this space to God. We consecrate it to Him, asking for His sanctification so that we may accomplish our "reasonable service".

As you have noticed, the service of Consecration is twofold: first, placing the altar-table, washing it, blessing it with holy water, anointing it with Holy Chrism, and covering it with new altar-clothes; second, processing with the holy relics of martyred saints and placing them in the altar-table.

We desire to offer only the best of what we have to God, a pure, chaste and holy offering. Therefore, after we put the alter-board on the columns, we wash it as a sign of purification. Also, we sprinkle it with holy water to sanctify it and bless it by Divine Grace. Then we anoint it with Holy Chrism. The holy table is the altar in front of which the priest stands to offer the gifts in his name and in the name of the people, so that the Holy Spirit descends upon them, sanctifying them and sanctifying us.

Today, then, we consecrate this holy altar to the Almighty, so that we may assemble and offer glory and thanksgiving to the Lord, humbly asking for sanctification and grace. We declare today that the Lord is the Master of our life, and we humble ourselves, proclaiming Him to be the Fountain of all good, asking for His mercy and care. We also ask Him to sanctify our life and give the world peace.

We declare today that we, as human beings, are weak. We lift up our eyes towards heaven, realizing that our real home is above and not here.

The real cornerstone is Christ. That's why we read the Gospel passage in which Christ asked his disciples, "Who do people say I am?" Peter answered, "You are Christ the Son of the living God." Christ is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is the true priest, the One "who offers and is offered, who accepts and is distributed". And "we commit all our life unto Christ our God."

We offer today this house and we consecrate it as God's house. In it, we lift up our prayers and present our gifts. We also place in the altar-table the relics of saints after the procession. We do this to remember that the real altar of the Lord is not stone, wood, metal, or any other material. The real altar is Man.

Every one of us desires to offer things to God. One gives money. Another gives incense, oil, or other things to the Church. The truest and greatest offering, however, is the offering of man himself. It is good and beautiful to offer from our belongings to God, but what is most beautiful is to offer all of oneself to God. It is to make one's heart a throne of the Lord, and make one's being His abode. In this way one is transfigured and transformed into a living altar to the Lord. For this reason, we place holy relics in the altar to express this truth by remembering that we ought to give all our life unto Christ. For this, we offer the gifts on the altar of our Lord. The true altar is man who sacrifices himself out of his love to God. We place the relics of Hieromartyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope, whose memory we celebrate on the 22nd of September.

I ask the holy Master to bless you, give you abundant blessings, and make you prosper in all your doings, so that you may grow in grace and stature for the glory of His name. May this newly consecrated church be a house in which you gather as children of God to receive His heavenly gifts; Him Who is blessed and glorified forever. Amen."


(2) "The Waves Keep Coming In - the Evangelical, Charismatic, Orthodox Axis" - An address given by Very Revd. Michael Harper on 27th November in Wesley House, Cambridge on the occasion of the Centenary of the coming of the Pentecostal Movement to the United Kingdom.  PDF DOWNLOAD / VIEW


(3) A poem from Fr. Jonathan ...

One Thing

Luke 10:10:41 And Jesus answered and said to her ”Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”

 

Possess your soul with patience,

Let the seasons bear their own time.

 

Lighten your heart with love,

Passion beats to a heavy, uncertain pulse.

 

Provide your mind with peace

Since idle imagination is a deadly weapon.

 

Still your tongue with silence

Allow the Word to speak to you.

 

Open your hands to offerings

Give generously and receive gracefully.

 

Guard your eyes with goodness

To become a pupil of Light.

 

Place your feet in poverty.

That you may walk in the way of the saints.

 

Feed your stomach with friendship

So nourishing and sustaining the lonely.

 

Breathe into your nostrils the air of beauty

For the Holy Spirit gives life to the canvass of creation.

 

Humble your ears to holiness

That you may become deaf to the whispers of pride.

 

Wash your skin with wisdom

Cleanse yourself from the accretions of personal opinion.

 

Commend your life to Christ

Be transfigured into His likeness.

 

Discard the superficial distractions of the world

Find the one thing that is necessary for heaven.

 

Fr. Jonathan

To the Glory of God

 

“The evil one cannot comprehend the joy we receive from the 
spiritual life; for this reason he is jealous of us, he envies us 
and sets traps for us, and we become grieved and fall. We must 
struggle, because without struggles we do not obtain virtues. “

Elder Ieronymos of Aegina 


(4)  a meditation upon the Prosphora (Eucharistic bread) [anonymous]

His Bread

“It was wheat, sown on mountains and ravines.

It was harvested, milled, kneaded, turned into bread.

We blessed it and it was sanctified and became the body of Christ.

We, too, are scattered, Lord. On “mountains” and “ravines”.

Gather us round you, Lord. Pound us. Turn us into bread.

Make us all one in Your Church and sanctify us.

Take us to Your Kingdom.”

(From  Didache of 12 Apostles, chapter 9,4,)

Ώσπερ ην τούτο το κλάσμα διεσκορπισμένον επάνω των ορέων και συναχθέν έν, ούτω συναχθήτω Σου η Εκκλησία από των περάτων της γης εις την Βασιλείαν σου.
- Ήταν σιτάρι, σπαρμένο σε βουνό και σε φαράγγια.
- Θερίστηκε, αλέστηκε, ζυμώθηκε, έγινε ψωμί.
Το ευλογήσαμε και αγιάσθηκε και έγινε σώμα Χριστού.
Και εμείς Κύριε, σκορπισμένοι είμαστε. Σε (βουνά) και σε (φαράγγια)!
Μάζεψέ μας κοντά Σου, Κύριε. 'Αλεσέ μας. Κάνε μας Ψωμί. Κάνε μας όλους μας ένα μέσα στην Εκκλησία σου και αγίασέ μας. Πάρε μας στη Βασιλεία Σου!

(Διδαχή των Δώδεκα Αποστόλων κεφάλαιο. 9,4
.

Change

I love bread. Bread is rarely the protagonist of a meal. It will be there, next to your plate, as a nourishing accompaniment, as a tool to help you eat your food with. Bread is humble, yet essential, at the heart of the Holy Communion, the essential moment of “changing…by Thy Holy Spirit”.

We don’t always welcome change in our life, we often resent it or resist it, even though it is unavoidable. I read somewhere that sin is surprisingly conservative; it means refusing to grow; to change.

Bread possesses a changing nature: from seed to plant, from wheat to flour, from flour to dough, from dough to bread, from bread to nourishment, from nourishment to life, from every day common commodity to prosforo, from prosforo to the Body of Christ. Humble bread turns to Holy Bread; it turns into a bridge between heaven and earth. Christ offers us His Holy Body. Man takes a part of creation and changes it, through his labour, then offers it back to the Creator, “Thy own of Thine own we offer Thee”  (I also read recently (The Apples of the Cook, p.18) that in the old times people called the prosforo “Panagia”, Mother of God, humanity’s “offer” to God, which, among other things, made me think that the word prosforo comes from the word prosfero= to offer).

As a child, I was blessed to have the chance to play out, in the fields that, in the early summer, turned into a green sea of wheat. We’d roll and hide and chew the milky, unripe seeds. Unbaked bread dough was one of my first toys, a primitive form of Playdough, that nourished my soul with the joy of playing and my mind with the joy of imagining and creating, before another piece of the same dough would turn into the fragrant loaf that would nourish my body.

As an adult, I was blessed to have the chance to bake loaves that would later be transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why I was so touched by the above quotation. It made me feel good to think that, as my father on earth is a baker, as my spiritual father is a baker for our church needs (the first prosforo I got from his hands filled the entire house with fragrance for days), my Father in Heaven is a Baker, too. It made me wonder, will I be as humble as an ear of wheat, that bows its head when full and ripe, and let Him take me, break me, knead me, turn me into a fragrant, useful, nourishing loaf? It made me think that we are all indeed, like the scattered grains of wheat, that can drift off with the wind, unless we let His hands harvest us, from our mountains of problems and trouble, from our urban ravines, and bring us together, transform us, make us sprout and flourish and yield fruit.

Not scattered but One

A seed is full of potential, but it can die without fulfilling it, as some seeds did, in the parable of the sower; but the seeds that will give fruit, will then be transformed into something good, something that will also benefit others. The single ingredients will have to come together so that the flour, the yeast, the salt, the honey, the water, the oil, will transform into one, new, complete entity.

Break my will Lord, make me want what You want.

The grinding and the pounding and the kneading of the transformation process will only make us better, in the same way that the finer you grind your flour, the more you work your dough, the more patient you are with it, allowing it to prove and improve and bake properly, the better your bread turns out. Baking bread is a slow process that requires patience: for the yeast to activate, for the gluten to develop, for the dough to rise and then bake all the way through. The fragrant result is worth it. Growing and changing from a drifting, fruitless existence to a centred (with Christ in the middle), rounded (as a loaf), fruitful one, takes patience too. The result can be the fragrance of Heaven. How can we say no?