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Hank Hanegraaff Interview

On April 9, 2017, well-known Evangelical Bible teacher Hank Hanegraaff was chrismated and received into the Orthodox Christian Church. Shortly thereafter, he lost a substantial part of his long-time radio audience, was accused of leaving the Christian faith altogether, and was diagnosed with cancer. He continues to grow in his new-found faith, and we thought you would like to hear directly from him about that journey.  Ancient Faith had the privilege of inviting Hank to meet in person with Frederica Mathewes-Green to talk about the dramatic spiritual and physical realities confronting him. In this fascinating three-part interview, drawn from a two-day conversation, Frederica asks the question so many have asked, “Have you left your love of the Scriptures, your understanding of the Scriptures behind?”  Enjoy all three segments of the interview to hear Hank’s answer to this and other questions about his journey, his diagnosis, and his reflections on his experiences. This new release from Ancient Faith Films is offered to you at no charge at http://www.ancientfaith.com/films/hanegraaff-interviews

Science Studies the Jesus Prayer

       

Can seven words—Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me—change lives?

It may seem a lot of effort over just seven words: Finding 110 Eastern Orthodox Christians, giving them a battery of tests ranging from psychology to theology to behavioral medicine, and then repeating the tests 30 days later. But the seven words—”Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (a.k.a. the Jesus Prayer)—are among the most enduring in history. What Boston University psychologist George Stavros, Ph.D., wanted to find out was whether repeating the Jesus Prayer for ten minutes each day over the 30 days would affect these people’s relationship with God, their relationships with others, their faith maturity, and their “self-cohesion” (levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity). In short, Stavros was asking whether the Jesus Prayer can play a special role in a person’s “journey to the heart.”
The answer—at least on all the scales that showed any significant effect compared to the control group—turned out to be a resounding yes. Repeating the contemplative prayer deepened the commitment of these Christians to a relationship with a transcendent reality. Not only that, it reduced depression, anxiety, hostility, and feelings of inferiority to others. So powerful were the psychological effects of the prayer that Stavros urges his colleagues to keep it in mind as a healing intervention for clients. He recommends that the prayer be used along with communal practices so that one’s relationship with God and others is “subtly and continuously tutored.” In other words, going inside to find God does not mean going it alone.

http://agapienxristou.blogspot.ca/2012/11/science-studies-jesus-prayer.html

Worshiping as a Family by Fr. Theodore Dorrance

Recently, a concern was voiced by some parents of young children regarding the difficulty of having their youngsters sit through our “long worship services.” Having been a parent of young children for many years with a wife who basically functioned as a single parent every Sunday and feast day, I am aware of how difficult it is to a young Orthodox Christian family. I realize that each Divine Liturgy is a struggle, trying to keep our children attentive and involved, wondering whether they and we are benefitting from the time and effort. This work is further compounded by the fact that many of us have not grown up ourselves in Orthodox worship. Standing for long periods of time, working hard to stay present and cut off intrusive thoughts, and entering into a rhythm and atmosphere so different from our everyday experience is even hard for us adults.

The Church has some very definite things to say about the presence of young children in the church services as full participants. Ever since the establishment of the Levitical priesthood, infants on the fortieth day of life have been brought to the Temple (church) to be blessed, dedicated and officially welcomed into the corporate worship life of the church community. From New Testament times until the present day, children have been baptized and chrismated as infants. From the day of the their baptism, they have been made full members and communicants of the holy mysteries of the Church. If young children are not expected to be in church, why does the Church bless both the mother and her child on the fortieth day and baptize and confirm them soon thereafter?! Of course, we know that they are clothed in Christ and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they can be totally immersed in the life of the Church. The wisest of all men, King Solomon, affirms this truth: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov.22:6)

The Church is the Body of Christ, and it is also one big spiritual family. As members of the same Body, we are called to come together to congregate, to meet God and one another and to exercise love and work out our salvation in common as one. This inevitably means that from time to time there is going to be a little noise, a little movement, because we have little ones in our midst. They do not yet have the same attention span to stay focused as long as adults. These little ones are in training. This is why we have a “Young Family Room,” which is an extension of the Nave. It is NOT a “Cry Room,” where chaos and running around are encouraged, but it is a place for our young ones to be when they are not quiet enough to be in the Nave. It is their place of transition as they learn how to worship and participate in the Divine Services in a way that is respectful and fitting to the other members of their spiritual family.

I repeat here the words of Solomon: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Believe me, and I speak from experience, if we persevere in this struggle to bring our young children to the worship services while they are young, they will soon learn to love worship. It will become a part of them, and they will feel at home in the Church. Experts have long said that the bulk of our personality and our sense of our “self ” is formed in the first five years of life. Along with the grace of baptism and chrismation, the foundational experience of our young ones in Orthodox worship will be deeply imprinted on their souls; it will become a part of their spiritual DNA.

Allow me to interject two brief examples. A priest had regularly brought his children to church from their fortieth day. One day when one of his children was only two, he took her with him on a house blessing. While preparing for the service, his child was in another room playing and seemingly inattentive. Once the priest started the house blessing, however, from the other room this young child began chanting the responses. You can imagine how amazed and thrilled the priest was to see how much his child had absorbed just by being present at the various services. He said nothing, but throughout the rest of the service, he was accompanied by a two year old chanter.

A second example comes from my own experience. When our oldest was only 3 or 4, we had to be somewhere on a Saturday that prevented us from celebrating Vespers at our church. Presvytera and I decided we would do as much of the Vespers from heart while driving home that evening. We started, but quickly forgot how Psalm 103 continued after the opening line. Suddenly, from the back seat our young daughter proceeded to recite the entire Psalm from memory. We were astonished and learned a powerful lesson about the importance of bringing our children to church even when we are not sure they are even paying attention. It is during these formative early years that our children are like sponges, picking up and retaining all the sights, sounds and smells of Orthodox worship.

We should never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit in our children’s lives or the powerful effect the Orthodox Church’s rich, sensorial worship services can have on young children who do not seem to be paying attention. If they see that God and the Church are important to us, it will become important to them. Our commitment to the worship life of the Church will communicate this same priority to them. Once in the church, they will see the Kingdom of Heaven all around them through the architecture, the icons, the vestments, the candles, the incense, the chanting, etc. They will hear the prayers, the petitions, the hymns and the preaching. They will taste and see that the Lord is good. All of these sensory stimuli will create an indelible mark upon their whole person that will draw them closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let us all rise above our doubts as to whether this is of benefit to ourselves and our children. Let us ignore the insidious thoughts that are sent to us by the evil one and heed the words of our Lord: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt.19:14) If we as parents live our faith at all times and teach it to our children in both word and deed, namely bringing them to the Divine Services of the Church, they will grow up close to our Lord. My dear parents, hang in there and have patience. This season of bearing and raising children is brief. Your efforts will bear fruit before you even realize it. I have seen it happen to countless children whose parents were faithful. Not only will the holy and blessed worship life of the Church form and transfigure our children, but your loving and sacrificial efforts will also positively change your lives as well.

On Christian Marriage- St. John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)

Marriage was ordained by God as a blessing to the human race. A certain wise man in the Scriptures, when enumerating which blessings are the most important, included “a wife and husband who live in harmony” (The Wisdom of Sirach 25:1).

From the beginning, God in His providence planned this union of man and woman. God has put into a man’s heart the capacity to love his wife and into a woman’s heart the capacity to love her husband. There is no relationship between human beings as close as that of husband and wife – if they are united as they ought to be.

God’s purpose in ordering marriage is peace.

If a man and a woman marry to satisfy their sexual appetites, or to further the material aims of themselves or their families, then the union is unlikely to bring blessings. But if a man and a woman marry in order to be companions on the journey from earth to heaven, then their union will bring great joy to themselves and to others.

When we speak of the wife obeying the husband, we normally think of obedience in military or political terms: the husband giving orders to the wife and the wife obeying them. But while this type of obedience may be appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage.  Obedience should not be confined to the wife; the husband should be obedient in the same way. St. Paul writes: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:22).  Thus a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other but of both spouses obeying each other.

When the Apostle Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives,” he does not stop at this, but gives us a measure for true love by adding, “as Christ loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25). And how did Christ love the Church? “He gave Himself up for her,” the Apostle says. So even if you must die for your wife, do not refuse.

Love is most powerfully present in a marriage when accompanied by respect. A good marriage is like a castle. When husband and wife truly love and respect each other, no one can overcome them.

In the providence of God, when a husband is spiritually weak, his wife is spiritually strong; and when a wife is weak, her husband is strong.

Nothing can destroy love that is rooted and founded in Christ.

The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together.

St. John Chrysostom’s advice to young husbands:  Speaking with your wife . . . .

Never speak to your wife in a mundane way but with compliments, with respect and with much love. Tell her that you love her more than your own life, because this present life is nothing, and that your only hope is that the two of you pass through this life in such a way that in the world to come, you will be united in perfect love.

Say to her, ‘Our time here is brief and fleeting, but if we are pleasing to God, we can exchange this life for the Kingdom to come. Then we will be perfectly one both with Christ and with each other, and our pleasure will know no bounds. I value your love above all things, and nothing would be so bitter or painful to me as our being at odds with each other. Even if I lose everything, any affliction is tolerable if you will be true to me.’

Show her that you value her company, and prefer being at home to being out at the marketplace. Esteem her in the presence of your friends and children. Praise and show admiration for her good acts; and if she ever does anything foolish, advise her patiently. Pray together at home and go to Church; when you come back home, let each ask the other the meaning of the readings and the prayers. If your marriage is like this, your perfection will rival the holiest of monks.

True Almsgiving

The Widow Anastasia-A Story about True Almsgiving…

The following story was extracted from “Elder Cleopa of Sihastria.”

Emperor Nicephorus of Constantinople reigned from 1078 until 1081. He decided to build a cathedral that would be almost as grand as St. Sophia. When it was ready, the patriarch of Jerusalem, the patriarch of Alexandria as well as the patriarch of Constantinople were all invited to consecrate the beautiful new church built by the emperor. Announcements had been made about the consecration for several months in advance so that everyone would have time to travel to the great city of Constantinople; remember that during that time there were no cars, planes or trains. Everyone had to travel either in carts pulled by oxen, horses or donkeys, and those from great distances had to cross the sea in boats.

When Nicephorus’ cathedral was ready to be consecrated there were three patriarchs, forty metropolitans, and thousands of priests present, since this was an imperial cathedral. Thousands of carts and wagons converged on the city as the faithful came from all around. Everyone brought something for the new cathedral: rugs, barrels of wine, oil, flour, candles, etc. Each person wanted to offer something!

At that time there was a widow named Anastasia who lived in Constantinople. For fifty years she had lived faithfully, going to church regularly and praying to God. She lived on the edge of the city, right along the road on which all the carts and wagons of people had to travel to reach the new church. But Anastasia was very poor. Her house was a dilapidated shack, she had no money, no oil, no flour, nothing that she could offer to the new church. As she saw so many oxen pulling wagons of people toward the new church, she decided to give an armful of grass to the poor animals, since she did possess a small sickle and a pitchfork.

The widow was poor in material things, but very rich in faith! During the winter months she would spin flax and wool for the people of the town, and in the summer she would take her sickle and glean in the fields after the harvesters had left, then she would wrap the wheat in a rug and beat it to make a little flour for herself. Thus, little by little, she was able to provide herself with some flour for her own meager needs. That is how poor this widow, Anastasia, was!

Poor though she was, she had a very merciful heart! What went through her mind as she saw the oxen pulling such heavy loads of goods for the celebration of the new church? ‘I don’t have any money, or rugs, or oil, nothing. But I can give the animals a little grass.’ Still, she was afraid because she did not own land, so where would she get the grass without doing something wrong?

She took a big sack and went into a field where there was a kind of wild grass, called couch-grass, growing. She cut a lot of this grass, being careful not to damage the other crops that were growing, and put it into her sack, saying to herself, ‘I will give the oxen some grass, even if it is not from my own land.’

She took a walking stick and set off with the sack of grass toward the area near the church where many people had gathered. She found a pair of oxen who had finished eating the little bit of feed that had been set out for them; they were looking about for more food, still hungry, but there was none that they could reach.

Anastasia opened her sack of grass and put it in front of the oxen, saying, ‘Lord, accept this bit of grass, and forgive me, for I have nothing to bring to the church consecration, and even this is not from my own land!’ She wept as she said these words; then when the oxen had finished eating, she also went to the church for the consecration.

She was astounded at what she saw in the church: so many people and such rich adornments for the new temple! The church was prepared like a bride for a wedding with all the embellishments ready for the consecration that was to take place the following day. Anastasia went to an icon in the rear of the church, where women generally would stand; there the poor old woman, her face wrinkled with age, an old scarf on her head, the poorest of sandals on her feet and wearing a raggedy dress, knelt and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Lord, forgive me, for I have not brought any kind of offering for the church! I have nothing. The emperor is a king on earth and will be great in heaven, but I am so poor and have no money, nothing to offer.’ and as she prayed her tears dropped to the ground.

Then Emperor Nicephorus, with all his entourage and servants, came into the church. His chief minister, Peter was his name, pointed to the dedication plaque – since in churches and monasteries that are historical monuments there are dedication plaques over the doors – and drew the emperor’s attention to it. The plaque was made of marble and the golden inscription read ‘To the glory of the all holy Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, this holy church was built and provided for by me, the Emperor Nicephorus.’ The emperor fully approved of the way the inscription had been executed, since he was the one who had ordered it.

Thus, the emperor, empress and a crowd of generals and other officials went into the church to see how it was prepared for the big event of consecration the following day. Everything was in order: beautiful frescoes on the walls, icons with golden risas, fine covers for the icon stands and curtains at the royal doors, gold-embroidered vestments, chandeliers, holy vessels for the altar, Gospel book, everything was in perfect order.

While the dignitaries were inspecting everything in the church, the elderly widow Anastasia, who had given an armful of grass to the oxen, was weeping before the icons in the rear of the church. As she prayed, the angel of the Lord changed the inscription on the dedication plaque. The inscription, even more beautifully executed now read, ‘To the glory of the all holy Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, this holy church was built and provided for by me, the widow Anastasia.’

The people in the rear of the church saw the inscription and froze with fear. Before they had clearly read the emperor’s name on the inscription. There were people all around, no scaffolding was in the church for someone to reach the plaque and change the writing; thus, no one could explain how this change had happened. The men read the inscription and began to talk among themselves.

– ‘What! What does that say?’

– ‘What’s there?’

– ‘Look, it says that a widow built this church!’

– ‘But just a moment ago when the emperor came in, it had his name on it.’

– ‘What will the emperor say when he sees this?’

Those present were afraid to tell the emperor, so they called the head minister, Peter, and showed the inscription to him.

Peter read the inscription and said, ‘But this is a miracle! It’s all right. I will tell the emperor!’

The emperor listened to Peter. What a sight it was: the emperor and empress both had shining gold crowns on their heads and were dressed in all their royal garments, surrounded by soldiers.

– ‘Your Majesty, come into the vestibule a moment. ‘

The emperor came and looked at the plaque in amazement.

– ‘But, when we came into the church, it was my inscription.’

– ‘I know that it was yours, Your Majesty. Everyone knows it was yours. But look at what is written there now!’

– ‘Oh! What a sinner I am! This is a great miracle! No one could have done this except God Himself! This is a wonderful miracle. I lost the church because I made it in my own pride. Now it has been given to a widow!’

The emperor then called all his chief servants and told them, ‘This church is not to be consecrated until we find this widow! Once she is found, we will do the consecration in her name because she is greater before God than I am.’ Then he gave the order to search throughout his entire empire for the widow Anastasia.

Now, it was God’s will to reveal this mystery quickly, and He did so through another widow who was about the same age as the blessed Anastasia. This woman was in the crowd, but was not aware that Anastasia was also there.

In all the commotion that was going on in the rear of the church, she asked ‘What is the matter?’

When someone told her that they were looking for a widow by the name of Anastasia, she said, ‘I know Anastasia. She lives at the edge of town.’

‘What! You know her! Come here to the emperor!’

The old woman told the emperor where the widow Anastasia lived, and he then immediately sent servants to find her and bring her to the church.

Servants, riders and horses quickly headed off to the edge of Constantinople to find Anastasia and bring her to the emperor. When they reached the place that the old woman had told them, they found some children playing.

‘Do you children know where an old woman by the name of Anastasia lives?’

One of the older children pointed and said, ‘Anastasia lives over there, near the garden.’

The men went to the house in the untilled garden. What did they find at the widow Anastasia’s door? No lock. No bolts. No latch. When someone has nothing, they are not afraid of thieves. The door was held shut by a string tied onto a nail. It was obvious that the old woman was not home. The few belongings that she had were in plain sight, but there was nothing worth stealing. She had gone to the church for the consecration.

The servants said to the children, ‘The old woman, Anastasia, is not home.’

‘No. Anastasia left with an armful of grass to the farm market,’ the children answered, not knowing that she had gone to the church.

The generals and other men all returned to give their report to the emperor. ‘Your Majesty, we went and found the small house on the edge of town. There were some children playing and they said that Anastasia is here, in this crowd, somewhere.’

Someone who knew Anastasia heard this and said that she was in the church, ‘She is praying to the Savior!’

‘If she is in church, tell her not to be afraid, since she has never met me,’ said the emperor. ‘Send some elderly women to her to tell her that at the consecration of the church the emperor is going to make a gift of a cow to all the old women.’

Following the emperor’s order, they found the elderly Anastasia and brought her before the emperor who said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Anastasia. You have been found worthy of a great blessing from God! What offering did you bring this morning for the consecration of the church?’

– ‘I did not bring anything, Your Majesty, because I am so poor!’ She did not consider the armful of grass that she’d given the oxen as any kind of offering.

– ‘Please, think, dear Anastasia. You must have brought a great gift because my church has been given to you!’

– ‘I didn’t bring any gift because I have no money. I have nothing! All I have is a sickle and a pitchfork. During the winter I spin wool for people, and in the summer I use the sickle to glean after the harvesters. I manage to get a little wheat from what I glean. Aside from that, I have nothing. ‘

– ‘This is an imperial church and I spent a fortune from my own gold and silver to build it; but look at the inscription that says it was made by Anastasia! What did you give to this church?’

– ‘I didn’t give anything except for an armful of grass to a yoke of oxen.’

– ‘Don’t be afraid, Anastasia. The inscription was done by God, not you. God Himself wrote that this church is yours! ‘

And there it was on the inscription, ‘To the glory of the all holy Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, this holy church was built and provided for by me, the widow Anastasia.’ The men had to read it to her, since she was illiterate.

– ‘You see, dear woman, you say that you did not bring any thing, but remember that you did bring an armful of grass! ‘

– ‘I did bring that, but it was not a real offering from me since I cut it from someone else’s field.’

– ‘Look, Anastasia, your armful of grass was more precious than all the treasures that I gave. See, the angel of the Lord has put the church in your name and it will remain yours forever. We will consecrate the church with all these patriarchs, with all the pomp and celebration as we planned, but the church will be Anastasia’s forever. The church will be consecrated with your name since the angel has written that both in heaven and here. ‘

The poor widow was astounded and exclaimed, ‘What a miracle!’

When the blessed Anastasia from Constantinople died, the emperor buried her in the holy altar, with an inscription above her tomb, ‘Here, in the church that God miraculously gave her, is buried the widow Anastasia.’

An armful of grass, given in the name of the Lord with humility and a sorrowful heart far surpasses all the wealth of the Emperor Nicephorus. That is what God desires!

St. Ephraim the Syrian says, ‘God does not look upon the quantity of offerings that you make, but the heart with which you bring these offerings.’ However small your offering may be, give it with humility and a sorrowful heart that you cannot offer more. That is true almsgiving.

 

What on Earth is the Orthodox Church?

For twenty centuries the Orthodox Church has continued in Her undiminished and unaltered faith and practice, yet She is virtually unknown to most people living in the Eugene/Springfield area.  We are orthodox but not Jewish; catholic but not Roman; we’re not Denominational, we’re pre-denominational. The Orthodox Church is the original Christian Church founded by Jesus Christ.

We invite you to come and get to know the Original! Inquirer’s classes are offered each Monday evening at 6:30 pm.

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” Romans 15:7

Thank you for visiting the St.  George Greek Orthodox Church website. We hope you find our site informative and edifying. We also invite you to join us for one of our liturgical services – services that have been part of the worshiping tradition of apostolic Christianity since the era of the “early Christian Church.”

Our parish is more than just a place where people come to worship the living God (although it is first and foremost that!). St. George is a vibrant faith community of people of all ages and backgrounds who are working out their salvation together with fear and trembling in accordance with the commandments of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the sacred norms for spiritual life of the ancient Holy Eastern Orthodox Church. Many of our congregants journeyed to the Orthodox Church from other Christian faith traditions and denominations and some non-Christian religious and spiritual traditions. Whether you are “on a journey” or just wanting to visit a local Orthodox church you will be welcome at St. George. We are always honored to have visitors join us for prayer and worship.

We believe that our small church is the place where heaven strikes earth like lightening each Sunday and that ours is a church immersed in the unchanging Faith of the ages. We invite you to come and see the Light; to come and receive the Heavenly Spirit; and to come and find the True Faith, worshiping the Holy Trinity, Who has saved us.

Please join us each Saturday evening at 6 pm for Great Vespers and each Sunday for Orthros at 9 am and the Divine Liturgy at 10 am.

First Time Visitors CLICK HERE

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