Which Came First: New Testament or the Church? – Fr. James Bernstein, WA, USA

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Which Came First: New Testament or the Church?

by Fr. James Bernstein, WA, USA

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2011/05/which-came-first-new-testament-or-the-church/

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

A convert to Christianity from Judaism, Fr. James was a teenage chess champion whose dramatic conversion experience at the age of 16 led him to Christianity, and is also one of the founders of Jews For Jesus. His journey led him directly to the Orthodox Christian faith, and his journey is recounted in his book “Surprised By Christ,” the story of a man searching for the truth and unable to rest until he finds it. He is the priest at St. Paul Church in Brier, WA.

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As a Jewish convert to Christ via evangelical Protestantism, I naturally wanted to know God better through the reading of the Scriptures. In fact, it had been through reading the Gospels in the “forbidden book” called the New Testament, at age sixteen, that I had come to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our promised Messiah. In my early years as a Christian, much of my religious education came from private Bible reading.

By the time I entered college, I had a pocket-sized version of the whole Bible that was my constant companion. I would commit favorite passages from the Scriptures to memory, and often quote them to myself in times of temptation-or to others as I sought to convince them of Christ. The Bible became for me-as it is to this day-the most important book in print. I can say from my heart with Saint Paul the Apostle,

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

That’s the good news!

The bad news is that often I would decide for myself what the Scriptures meant. For example, I became so enthusiastic about knowing Jesus as my close and personal friend that I thought my own awareness of Him was all I needed. So I would mark verses about Continue reading “Which Came First: New Testament or the Church? – Fr. James Bernstein, WA, USA”

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The Path of Kyriaki-Fevronia Ka’akau, Hawaii, USA – by Kyriaki-Fevronia Ka’akau

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HAWAII OF MY HEART

The Path of Kyriaki-Fevronia Ka’akau

by

Kyriaki-Fevronia Ka’akau

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2010/07/the-path-of-kyriaki-fevronia-ka’akau/

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

If someone told me four years ago that I would become Orthodox I would have suggested psychological testing! Before moving to Washington in 1996, I was a Protestant for 26 years, hopping from one church to another. There was always something missing but I couldn’t identify it. My marriage of 16 years failed so I decided to “take a break” from anything church related, move to Washington with my son and start over.

After being there for nearly a year, I quit one security job and was hired for another company. My new boss, Pete, was a big bear of a man with a wonderful sense of humor and the ability to speak the language of his ancestry which I had always wanted to learn—Greek!

To a background in Hawaiian, Hebrew, Latin, French, and American Sign Language I wanted to add Greek, especially since the New Testament was written in it. When Pete suggested I call one of the Greek Orthodox churches in Tacoma I had no idea what to look for. I “let my fingers do the walking” and arbitrarily chose St. Nicholas.

I know that the Holy Spirit led me to choose that parish. I inquired about Greek lessons and the woman took my name and phone number. A few days later Despina Kipelidis called me. That was the beginning of my adventure!

During my Greek lessons, we would talk about spiritual things and she would answer my questions about Orthodoxy with as much zeal as I had as Protestant. She loaned me books like St. Seraphim of Sarov, Mother Macarius, etc. Being the “good Christian” that I was, I checked everything against scripture. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting into something strange or something that went contrary to what I knew scripture taught.

I could find nothing wrong but it took a while to get used to certain theological issues such as the rightful position of the Holy Mother, and the transformation of the break and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Once I started attending services— first at St. Nicholas and then at Holy Resurrection (OCA)—1 began finding what had been missing in all the other churches I attended—WORSHIP and REVERENCE.

I was relieved in what I found in Orthodoxy. There was no “show” or a need to “entertain” to attract new believers. I found meaning in everything that was done in the Liturgy and at home. It was comforting. I had come home.

The traditions in Orthodoxy are passed down from the Apostles themselves and there is the desire for more spiritual discipline. There is a right way and a wrong way to worship, dress, pray, fast, etc.

And I found people who wanted to do it right. I had been covering my head for 19 years and for the first time I wasn’t the only (outside a messianic congregation)! There is consistency. There is a cycle. But make no mistake about one thing; there is just as much, if not more, emotion. These traditions are in no way dead or boring! I discovered in Orthodoxy that which so many other Christians have forgotten. After several months of being a Catechumen I was baptized. My Godmother is Fevronia Prodomidou from Kavala, Greece.

I chose the name Kyriaki, after my Greek teacher’s aunt so I actually have TWO names; Kyriaki-Fevronia.

I have been Orthodox for a little over a year now and thought it would be wonderful if my family, especially my son, became Orthodox, it’s God’s job to enlighten them the same way He enlightened me. I’m just in awe of the way He blessed me and helped me find my way home!

Hammi: The Norwegian Forest Cat – Our pets are gifts from God – Abbot Tryphon, Vashon Island, WA, USA

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USA OF MY HEART

ANIMALS OF MY HEART

NORWAY OF MY HEART

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Hammi: The Norwegian Forest Cat

Our pets are gifts from God

Source:

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2017/02/hammi-norwegian-forest-cat/

ANCIENT FAITH

MORNING OFFERING

Every evening I try to spend an hour or so in the library, sitting in front of the fire place. Our beloved Norwegian Forest Cat, Hammi, sleeps in the library/community room every night. Hammi is most happy when the entire monastic brotherhood is gathered together with him. He’s an important member of our community, loved by all of us, and is the only cat I know who has his own facebook fan page, started by a woman who’d met him on a pilgrimage to the monastery (if my memory be correct).

I first met Hammi, a large male cat, as I was walking between our old trailer house (now gone) and my cell, some seventeen years ago. We startled one another, but as I reached down with extended hand, he came to me. When I picked him up he began purring immediately, so I opened a can of salmon, and he never left. A month after his arrival we took him to a vet to be checked out. It was the veterinarian who suggested he’d most likely been dumped by someone from Seattle, as happens frequently when people want to dispose of a pet, and make sure the animal can’t find it’s way back home (impossible from an island).

I often tell people that Hammi domesticated me, since I’d not previously been a cat fancier, being allergic to cat dander. Little did I know at the beginning that Norwegian Forest Cats do not have dander. They have a very soft double fur coat, large paws, sweet facial features and a very loud purr box. They are known to be personable, liking to be around people. He greets everyone who comes to the monastery, escorting them up the steps from the parking lot. Everyone who’s ever met Hammi, falls in love. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve stated they don’t like cats, but want to get a Norwegian Forest Cat for themselves, once they’ve met him.

Intelligent breed that they are, Hammi has learned to let us know just what he wants, be it water, food, cuddling, sleep, whatever. He is a great companion to all of us, even going into the forest when one of us takes a walk on the Valaam Trail. He has a special game which he seems to enjoy with me, particularly. I’ll head out on the trail with Hammi running ahead. He’ll hide behind a large fern, and even though I know he’s waiting ahead, he always manages to scare me. I’ll then run ahead and hide behind a tree and jump out when he walks by. We play this game until the end of the trail!

At the ripe old age of twenty, Hammi is slowing down a bit, just as am I. We both suffer from arthritis and like to sit by the fire on a cold winter evening, with him cuddling in the lap of the old abbot. I’ve grown so attached to him that I can’t even begin to think of what life in the monastery will be like after he’s gone.

Animals teach us so much about life, and about unconditional love. I’ll never forget the day Hammi spotted our newly arrived Rhode Island Reds for the first time. I was sitting on the veranda of the trapeza with some guests. Hammi sat up when he spotted the hens, and started walking toward the Saint John Chapel. I followed him, as did our guests. When we were standing by the hens, Hammi crouched down, ready for the kill. All that was needed was for me to say, “No, Hammi, they are our friends”. He turned away and walked back to the veranda, leaving me and the guests alone with the chickens. He’s never bothered them since.

Although I’d grown up with dogs and cats, they’d not been in my life throughout my adulthood, until Hammi came around. I’m so very glad he did.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

https://vashonmonks.com

VASHON MONKS

Washington, USA

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The Orthodox William Harrington – Journey to Orthodoxy

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ORTHODOX HEART

The Orthodox William Harrington

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2016/07/orthodox-william-harrington/

by Tudor Petcu

A Romanian writer, Tudor is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania. He has published a number of articles related to philosophy and theology in different cultural and academic journals. His work focuses on the evolution of Orthodox spirituality in Western societies as well and he is going to publish a book of interviews with Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. In this article, he interviews William Harrington, an American Convert to Orthodoxy.

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TP: With your permission, I am interested to find out more information about your spiritual personality before becoming an Orthodox. Who were you before before discovering Orthodoxy and what was your view on life and its purpose?

William Harrington: Right now, I am teaching adults who never graduated high school and want to get their diploma. I live in Parsons, Kansas on the edge of the GreatPlains and I travel about an hour to get to a small mission in Joplin Missouri. About fifteen years ago, things were quite different. I had been married, but my wife cheated, then got a divorce. This is accurate and I don’t think there is much I could have done that would have changed what happened, but it did make me take a look at my life and see what was missing. My parents were both in the Air Force. My mother had been raised a Low Church protestant and my Father had grown up in an Irish-German Catholic family. He left Catholicism for her and I was baptized by a United Methodist Air Force chaplain.

We attended several different denominations, but by the time I was a teenager, my father had retired from the Air Force and became an Agriculture teacher. We settled in a really small town outside of the small town of DeSoto, Wisconsin. I hunted, fished, worked on farms, and we attended a Methodist church. I was deeply involved and considering becoming a minister, but after I attended college, I drifted away and became your typical secular American.

After the divorce, though, I knew something was missing. I went back to a Methodist church. The Pastor was wonderful. Korean and traditional. Then one Sunday I showed up and they had replaced my pastor with someone that I hesitate to call a Christian. This can’t be the Church, I thought. I quit going, but I had another chance to find what I needed. I have long been involved with a medieval re-creationist group called the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA has a huge on-line presence on the internet and I belonged to several e-mail lists devoted to the SCA. One of these groups was called PerRel for period religion.

Some people probably thought it meant peril, considering the arguments that we regularly engaged in, but we were a group that enjoyed honest, good arguments. It was on this list that I confessed that I was looking for a church but felt that most protestant churches were unreliable and changeable. One person, a member of a Greek Orthodox Church asked me if I had considered Orthodoxy. The seed was planted. At the time, I was living in Tacoma, Washington. I visited an Orthodox Church in America parish. It was intimidating, but fascinating. Shortly after this, I moved halfway across the continent, basically because I had not been able to rebuild my life after the divorce, and I found that a bachelor’s degree in History (which I had earned) had no real value.

So who was I? I was a well-educated person with a passion for history who had been broken by a failed marriage and, another relationship that had not worked out (I know, I hadn’t mentioned it before). I didn’t believe I had much value and I knew I needed Christ, but I wasn’t able to find Him in Protestant churches or by myself. I was going home to start over and figure my life out. I was in my mid-thirties and starting over, this time in Southern Illinois. I had never been there, but my family was there, so it was home. I found a job working with drug addicts and convicts getting out of prison. I was good at this job and I liked helping people. I was thinking of becoming a counselor. But I knew I still needed more. The seed had been planted.

TP: Which was the main reason why yiu have made the decision to convert to the Orthodox Church? What exactly have you discovered in Orthodox spirituality?

William Harrington: In 2003, I was researching Orthodoxy on-line when I read the difference between Protestantism’s view that God the Father has to punish us for our sins, but Christ took the father’s wrath upon himself. I discovered the Orthodox view that God loves us so much that Christ became one of us and died like us, just to conquer death so we can live. It was like such a weight was lifted off of me that I think I remember crying. I looked in the phone book, found the only Orthodox Church in southern Illinois and went the next Sunday. I didn’t have the courage to do more than stand in the back, but I watched everyone go to the front to kiss the cross at the end of the liturgy. The next Sunday I was there and at the end of liturgy I joined everyone in line and, when I stood before Father George, I introduced myself and said I had to become Orthodox. I was chrismated (I had already been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) in about a month after Father got the go ahead from Bishop Job.

What I have discovered is a road that is hard to walk, but never grows boring. A well with no bottom. I found the Church that I had started looking for after the divorce. I remember the Sunday after I was Chrismated, the choir grabbed hold of me, put a book in my hands, and told me I would be singing with them. This was a small church with maybe, maybe, twenty people in it. Most of them didn’t actually sing. What I heard that Sunday was incredible. There was a glorious choir behind us but when I turned around I didn’t see one. I have never heard that again, but I believe I was allowed to hear the heavenly choir for that moment to let me know I was in the right place.

TP: Can you say that becoming Orthodox, you have lived the most important or the deepest spiritual revolution?

William Harrington: No. The problem is that past tense. It’s been twelve years, but I feel like I’m just getting started and the most important and deepest spiritual revolution is still ahead of me.

TP: How and why in your oppinion can Orthodoxy help people to gain redemption?

William Harrington: First. And I can’t stress this enough. We are the Church of Christ. This is not triumphalism, it’s just fact. I’m not interested really, in speculating whether salvation can be found outside the Church. The important thing is we have the Church. She gives us all the mysteries we need for salvation. The hard thing for Protestants to understand is the mysteries are not just symbols. Baptism is really dying and rising with Christ just as we hope to do again at the resurrection. Communion really is the body and blood of Christ and through this we become part of the body of Christ. In addition, we have the teaching and wisdom of two thousand years of saints, not to mention Christ and his Apostles, on the nitty gritty details of what we need to do to become more Christ like. How to pray, how to fast, how to feast, it’s all part of what the Church gives us. As we grow, we can enter deeper into this ocean of teaching, pray better, and become ever more like Christ.

TP: Considering that you are a convert to Orthodoxy, what would be the most important lesson that everyone of us should learn in the Orthodox Church?

William Harrington: The Church is the pearl of great price. I often envy cradle orthodox, but I also see that they often take the Church for granted. They are no different from Protestants and Roman Catholics in this. The Church has more to do with who they see themselves as and less to do with a commitment to living for Christ. I would say, take the time to look at what you have. Its been given too you. Others have had to search for it, many have died to keep it. Don’t take it for granted.

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This interview is one of many that will be published in the book “The rediscovery of Orthodox heritage of the West” by Tudor Petcu, containing interviews with different Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. It will be published in two volumes and the first one will appear by the end of this year.

Fr. Nathaniel Johnson, USA: The Church That Has It ALL – Video

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USA OF MY HEART

The Church That Has It ALL

Fr. Nathaniel Johnson

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2016/12/the-church-that-has-it-all/

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

I had the great pleasure of concelebrating liturgy with Fr. Nathaniel, and his fellow clergy at St. Lawrence Orthodox Church in Felton, CA, this past weekend. What a glorious encounter!

Hear his story in his own words.

Fr. Deacon Nathaniel Johnson

Fr. Nathaniel Johnson served the Orthodox Church as a deacon in the San Lorenzo Valley for 28 years before his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. He and his wife Presbytera Susan have 3 children; two daughters and a son. The oldest daughter is an Orthodox nun at St. John the Forerunner Monastery in Goldendale, Washington. Their son and youngest daughter and her husband live locally. Father Nathaniel was Ordained to the Priesthood in 2015. He was raised in a Black Baptist church from birth and converted to Orthodoxy in 1980’s. Father Nathaniel is an accomplished musician, playing professionally for over 55 years; has designed and built a wooden boat and enjoys wood carving as well.