ST. john the baptist greek orthodox church the messenger



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By Steven Crowder

As anyone who’s read my abstinence column here at Fox News Opinion could guess, my wedding is something that I’ve looked forward to for quite some time. After having tied the knot at the end of August, I can now say beyond all shadow of a doubt, that it was everything I’d hoped and prayed that it would be since childhood. (I’d also prayed to be bitten by a radioactive spider and develop sticky hands, but… I was an idiot.)


Let me preface this column by saying this: my wife (I have to get used to saying that) and I not only waited sexually in every way (no, we didn’t pull the Bill Clinton and technically avoid “sex” sex,) but we didn’t shack up as live-ins and most importantly, we courted each other in a way that was consistent with our publicly professed values.
We did it right.
Our wedding was perfect. Our wedding night was nothing short of amazing. I write this on a plane heading into a tropical paradise with the most beautiful woman to have walked the planet earth.

-

Feeling judged? I couldn’t care less. You know why? Because my wife and I were judged all throughout our relationship. People laughed, scoffed and poked fun at the young, celibate, naive Christian couple. 


We’d certainly never make it to the wedding without schtupping, and if we did, our “wedding night would be awkward and terrible,” they said. 
Turns out that people couldn’t have been more wrong.  Looking back, I think that the women saying those things felt like the floozies they ultimately were, and the men, with their fickle manhood tied to their pathetic sexual conquests, felt threatened.
I think it’s important to write this column not to gloat (though I’ll be glad to), but to speak up for all of the young couples that have also done things the right way. When people do marriage right, they don’t complain so much, and so their voices are silenced by the rabble of promiscuous charlatans, peddling their pathetic world view as “progressive.”
Our wedding was perfect. Our wedding night was nothing short of amazing. I write this on a plane heading into a tropical paradise with the most beautiful woman to have walked the planet earth. I know everybody says that their bride was the “most beautiful in the world.”  They’re wrong. I win.
I’d like to tell you a story of our morning after, however. One that transpired into one of the most glaring epiphanies I’d ever had.
As my wife (again, still not used to that) and I ate breakfast at a local inn, we discussed how excited we were to start the rest of our lives together, how scary it was that everything was now so different. At the same time, we overheard the table next to us discussing their very own wedding from the night prior. What a coincidence!
“The thing is, nothing’s really changed,” the bride said.
Puzzled, my wife asked, “Did you get married last night too? So did we!”
“Congratulations!” the other dame said. “Yeah we did, just last night.”
“Where’s the groom?” my wife innocently… scratch that, naively asked.
“Oh, he’s sleeping. There was no way he was coming out with me this morning!” She paused and smirked. “Let’s just say that he’s got a lingering headache from a really good time last night.”
My heart sank. Firstly, that poor schmuck's “good time” was simply getting snookered. Not enjoying the company of close family and long-lost friends with a clear head and clean conscience, not staring in awe at his beautiful new wife, wanting to soak in every glimmer of her eyes as she shot him heart-racing looks from across the dance floor, not taking all of the cheesy pictures as they cut the cake, not even carrying her across that suite threshold as they nervously anticipated their “nightcap.” He probably won’t remember any of it. Instead, he got smashed. He was “that guy”… at his own freaking wedding.
Then I realized something. Our wedding was truly a once in a lifetime event. It was a God’s-honest celebration of two completely separate lives now becoming one. Physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually, everything that made us who we were individually was becoming what bonded us together. Our family traveled from far and wide to celebrate the decision of two young people to truly commit themselves to each other, and selflessly give themselves to one another in a way that they never had before that very night.
The people next to us that morning? Well, theirs was just one big party.  And the morning after? Just another hangover.
Our “weddings” were the same event in name only. They know it, and we know it.
Do yours the right way.  If you’re young and wondering whether you should wait, whether you should just give in, become a live-in harlot/bimbo and do it the world’s way.  If you’re wondering whether all of the mocking, the ridicule, the incredible difficulty of saving yourself for your spouse is worth it, let me tell you without a doubt that it is. Your wedding can be the most memorable day and night of your life… or just another party.
Oops. Did I just make a “judgment?”  You’re darn right I did.
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The Life of Christ—Part Three

Jesus: Who Is He Really?”



Adapted from “The Life of Christ: Rediscovering How His Life, Death and Resurrection Changed the World”

By the American Bible Society, 2011
Introduction

The New Testament presents Jesus as the Messiah. God-in-the-flesh. It’s a mystery, but Christians believe the Bible teaches that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. He was God’s son, and yet He was a person. Specifically, He was a first-century, middle-eastern, Jewish man.


Jesus grew up as we do; from baby to child, from boy to man. His was a fully human experience. Some Christians believe He was not an only child and that He had brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3). Orthodox Tradition holds that Jesus had half-brothers and half-sisters but that Mary and Joseph did not have other children. Orthodox Tradition holds that Joseph was an older man (as opposed to the Catholic depiction of Jesus as a younger man) who was a widower, who had children from an earlier marriage, thus the “brothers and sisters” who are referred to in the Gospels. His father was a carpenter (Mathew 13:55), which at that time probably implied a builder who worked not only with wood, but with a variety of materials. Jesus was referred to as a carpenter too (Mark 16:3). As would have been common in that day, He probably learned his father’s trade.
According to Gospel accounts, Jesus had many friends and acquaintances. He ate supper with the friends of Matthew and was criticized for it, and was even accused of drinking to excess (Mathew 11:18-19). He felt emotions – including anger (Mark 3:5); legitimate anxiety and anguish over difficulties (Luke 22:44); sadness and even weeping (Luke 19:41). He was tempted, just as people today are tempted (Mathew 4:1-11);( Hebrews 4:15).
From the biblical text we learn that Jesus also knew honor. In his culture, one way in which a person’s honor was determined was by how well he debated with the leaders of that time. Thus, in the Gospels, when Jesus repeatedly confronted the religious leaders, even confounded them, those who saw and heard the interchanges were increasingly impressed with His spiritual authority (Luke 43:31-32). Understanding this about Jesus’ culture also reveals how distinctive His message would have been—that true honor comes from serving others, not through overpowering or confounding one’s adversaries.
Meeting Jesus

Jewish man of mystery

We know from the Bible that Jesus fully understood the human experience. We can paint a further probable picture of His life from what we now know of the usual customs of first-century Palestine and the typical experience of a Jewish man in the Roman province of Judea.


Jesus’ extended family would have been as much a part of his life as His immediate family. He was raised to honor his parents, and the responsibility to care for them in their old age would have been emphasized as He grew up. As a young man, he would have been trained at home and at the synagogue, studying the Law of Moses.
He ate two meals a day, at noon and at the end of the day. The menu may have included bread, vegetables, fruit, fish and milk products, including yogurt and cheese. Meat was served mostly at holidays. Honey and dates were the most common sweetening agents for food. He would have eaten on a mat on the floor, dipping bread into a common bowl with the test of the family – using his right hand. Water was unsafe, so it was usually mixed with wine.
He would have slept on a mat on the floor beside other family members. He would have attended large weddings and feasts with them as well. Among his family, hospitality, even to strangers, would have been highly valued.
He likely had a beard and longer hair than his Greek and Roman counterparts. He would have worn a knee-length garment made of linen called a tunic. It would have been tied around his waist with a sash. For coolers days, he probably added a cloak, perhaps made of wool. When he wore sandals, they were most likely made of leather.
His was a culture in which identity was founded more in the group than in the individual. A person’s family and nationality were essential aspects of his or her life. On an individual basis, the esteem of one’s fellow citizens determined a person’s sense of honor or shame. What wealth is to modern capitalist cultures, honor was to the first-century Mediterranean culture.
Who do you say

I AM?

Jesus spoke with authority that inspired the masses. Not only did He stir heart. But He affected lives. Jesus’ words changed lives, healed the sick, raised the dead. The bible recounts that Jesus’ words were so powerful because He was more than just a man.


Mark 8:27-30

Jesus and his disciples went to the villages near the town of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “What do people say about me?” The disciples answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets.”


Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?” “You are the Messiah!” Peter replied. Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him.

“I AM HERE TRYING TO PREVENT ANYONE SAYING THE REALLY FOOLISH THING THAT PEOPLE OFTEN SAY ABOUT HIM: ‘I’M READY TO ACCEPT JESUS AS A GREAT MORAL TEACHER, BUT I DON’T ACCEPT HIS CLAIM TO BE GOD.’ THAT IS THE ONE THING WE MUST NOT SAY. A MAN WHO SAID THE SORT OF THINGS JESUS SAID WOULD NOT BE A GREAT MORAL TEACHER. HE WOULD EITHER BE A LUNATIC-ON A LEVEL WITH THE MAN WHO SAYS HE IS A POACHED EGG- OR ELSE HE WOULD BE THE DEVIL OF HELL. YOU MUST MAKE YOUR CHOICE. EITHER THIS MAN WAS, AND IS, THE SON OF GOD: OR ELSE A MADMAN OR SOMETHING WORSE. YOU CAN SHUT HIM UP FOR A FOOL, YOU CAN SPIT AT HIM AND KILL HIM AS A DEMON; OR YOU CAN FALL AT HIS FEET AND CALL HIM LORD AND GO. BUT LET US NOT COME WITH ANY PATRONIZING NONSENSE ABOUT HIS BEING A GREAT HUMAN TEACHER. HE HAS NOT LEFT THAT OPEN TO US. HE DID NOT INTEND TO.”

~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952
TEACHING, MISSION, and REVOLUTION

Jesus taught much about the kingdom of God. His message, like John the Baptist’s was an urgent call for each of us to repent of our sins---not because the kingdom of God was coming eventually, but because the kingdom of God had already come, in His mission. In this sense, God’s kingdom was not a worldly empire based in a given time and place, but the spiritual reality that God is in control of our destinies.


Jesus’ mission was misunderstood by many. He had not come to make Israel politically victorious over her enemies. He has not come to reign over a nation with the royal trappings of an army and castle. He had come to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice himself (Matthew 20:28). He had come to show humanity how to live as members of a kingdom of the Spirit, God’s kingdom (Matthew 5:2-12).
Jesus’ work and words were revolutionary because He turned his back on the status quo of His culture. Though He honored the commandments of God and many of the traditions of His people, like many of the ancient prophets before Him, He seemed to abhor those who practiced religion for religion’s sake, by rote or for show. He confronted the hypocrisy of some of the religious leaders and openly disregarded traditions that were inconsistent with the spirit of the law (Matthew 23:1-36).
And most revolutionary of all, as Jesus’ ministry progressed, He revealed more and more of His true identity---He proclaimed that He was the promised Messiah, Immanuel, which means “God with us”.
PROPHECIES, MIRACLES, HEALED LIVES

Jesus’ life was filled with wonders and miracles. Certain details of His life held true to ancient prophecies of the Messiah that were written or spoken centuries before Jesus lived. He proved His power over nature by calming storms (Mark 4:35-40): over death by disrupting funerals and even gravesites (Mark 5:35-42;John 11:32-44); over sickness by bringing health (Mark 5:25-24). He performed some of these miracles with just a single word. He performed others from a remote location (Matthew 8:5-13).


While Jesus desired faith from His followers that did not rely on His supernatural feats, His miracles played an important part in revealing his authority as God’s Son.
An Old Testament prophecy is found in Isaiah 35:3-6 that Jesus’ followers applied to Jesus and to the good Jesus would bring to those who believed in him.
Here is a message for all who are weak, trembling, and worried: “Cheer up? Don’t be afraid Your God is coming to punish your enemies. God will take revenge on them and rescue you.”
The blind will see, and the ears of the deaf will be healed. Those who were lame will leap around like deer; tongues once silent will shout for joy. Water will rush through the desert.
MATTHEW 11:2-6

John was in prison when he heard what Chris was going. So John sent some of his followers to ask Jesus, “Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?”
Jesus answered, “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. God will bless everyone who doesn’t reject me because of what I do.”
THE GREAT

I AM”



(EGO EIMI)
The apostle John states, “Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all for them are written in this book. But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in Him, you will have true life” (John 20:30—31).
We can see that John’s aim is two-fold. On one hand, he seeks to demonstrate that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of God.” On the other, he wants people to know the true identity of Jesus, so that “You will have true life.”
When God commanded Moses to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt, Moses asked what God’s name was. God relied, “tell him that the Lord, whose name is “I am, has sent you” (Exodus 3:13—15). Jesus shows that he has been in God’s plan from the beginning when he said: “even before Abraham was, I was, and I am” (John 8:58).
In John’s Gospel, Jesus used the term “I am” to connect himself to aspects of God’s nature and to identify himself as the one who:
~Supplies all needs

~Brings the knowledge about God to all people

~Is the way for people to find God and become Gods people

~Promises that all who believe in him will have eternal life

~Invites everyone to share in the common life as the new people of God

I AM the bread that gives life!

I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life.

I am the bread that gives life. Your ancestors are manna in the desert, and later they died. But the bread from heaven had come down, so that no one who eats it will ever die. I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who ears it will live forever. My flesh is the life0fiving bread that I give to the people of this world.

John 6:47-51


I AM the light for the world!

Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life”

John 8:12
I AM the gate for the sheep.

Jesus said: “I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. I am the gate. All who come through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully.”

John 10:7-10
I AM the good shepherd.

I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.


I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. Just as the father knows me, I know the father, and I give up my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must also bring them together, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

John 10:11-16


I AM the one who raises the dead to life!

Jesus then said to Martha, “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?”


“Yes, Lord!” She replied. “I believe that you are Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into this world.”

John 14:6


I AM the way, the truth, and the life!

I am the way, the truth, and the life!... Without me, no one can go to the father.

John14:6
I AM the vine.

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire. Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your pray will be answered.

John 15:5-7

Next Month: Historical Information on the Life of Christ


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JESUS’ WIFE?
Reverend Dr. Theodore Stylianopoulos wrote the following brief response to recent media

reports concerning a 4th century Coptic Manuscript. Father Stylianopoulos is Professor

Emeritus of New Testament at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
An announcement about an ancient text in which Jesus is reported to have spoken about

“my wife” has received extensive attention in the media. The text comes from a small

papyrus fragment about 1x3 inches in size, judged to be of the fourth century AD, which

apparently had broken off from a larger page of a document presumed lost. The text is

still in the process of linguistic and chemical analysis to determine if it is actually a

fragment from a fourth-century manuscript. When the papyrus fragment was discovered,

and under what circumstances it has passed from hand to hand until the public

announcement, are presently unknown.


Written in ancient Sahidic Coptic script, the text is perhaps a translation of an earlier

Greek document. Because the lines on all four sides of the fragment are broken and

incomplete, transcription of meaningful sentences is impossible. But the names of Jesus

and also Mary, presumably, Mary Magdalene, are reported to occur, and also certain

phrases, including Jesus using the expression “my wife.” Mary Magdalene has been

portrayed as an intimate disciple of Jesus, but not a wife, in other ancient writings already

known to the Fathers of the Church and designated as apocrypha and fraudulent. These

works were composed by small circles of heretical teachers concerned to disseminate

their own and often bizarre teachings. For example, a few years ago the discovery of

“The Gospel of Judas” caused a stir in the media. This document was known to St.

Irenaeus in the late second century AD. Among its strange teachings is that Judas was

the only disciple who truly understood Jesus and that his treachery was a good thing in

itself because it helped Jesus to be crucified; except that by that time the real Christ had

(weirdly) departed from Jesus and that only Jesus the man was crucified!


Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School who made the announcement about the

new text cautioned that its reference to Jesus’ wife is no historical proof that Jesus was

actually married but only an indication that Christians in the fourth century debated the

issues of marriage and celibacy. The Gospels and most of the other books of the New

Testament are extensive documents of the first century AD and provide no hint that Jesus

was ever married. There would be no reason to hide such a fact because marriage was

viewed as a sacred covenant in Judaism and Christianity. It should be noted that St. Peter

the Apostle, as well as other apostles were married (Mark 1:30; 1 Cor 9:5). The Bible

and the Orthodox theology confirm that marriage is instituted by God, it is honorable and

holy, one of the sacraments of the Church. Just as the Church honors a celibate life

dedicated to God, so also it celebrates marriage as a workshop of God’s kingdom--a

journey to God.



Hope/Joy Fall Harvest Carnival

Sunday, October 28

4:00 – 6:00 PM

on the Day School Lunch Patio

(In case of rain we will be in the Kourmolis Center)


Please join us for an afternoon of fun, food, and fellowship!
ALL children ages 3 - grade 6

are invited to attend.


Moms, dads, grandparents, friends – please sign up to help!
Please come in costume!

(no witches or devils please)


We will have games, crafts, prizes for all!

Dinner will be served


RSVP to Maria Xenick at mpxenick@tampabay.rr.com or 839-9897

Holy Humor

GOOD SAMARITAN


A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan.  She asked the class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?"  A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, "I think I'd throw up."

DID NOAH FISH?


A Sunday school teacher asked, "Johnny, do you think Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark ?" "No," replied Johnny. "How could he, with just two worms.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD


A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible - Psalm 23.  She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter.  Little Rick was excited about the task - but he just couldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line.

On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, Ricky was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, "The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know.



UNANSWERED PRAYER
The preacher's 5 year-old daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day, she asked him why.  "Well, Honey," he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages. "I'm asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon." "How come He doesn't answer it?" she asked.
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