Is Christmas Absurd?

Christmas is a big deal, the most important event of the year, of any year, even election years and war years, and wedding years, even though it happens every year.

Christmastime is super-busy. We schedule decorating, gift buying, wrapping and giving, shows, tree decorating, public tree lightings, cooking and baking, Christmas carols and classic movies, family gatherings, office parties, church, and visits; all the energy that we put into the birthday of Jesus shows that Christmastime is a big deal.

If you think it’s too much, then let’s stop for a moment to consider whether all this hoopla is really too little.

Everyone knows the story. In Year 1, a Jewish girl named Mary was chosen by God to become His mother so He, God, could have a body. Jesus was born to be a perfect human to emulate, even His healing power, even how he reacted to those who hated Him, even the other miracles which demonstrated His dominion over nature. He showed people and told them how to be like God, so they could ultimately live forever in new bodies on a new earth with God and each other. But first, there was the grand finale; He had to be killed so He could go to Hades and release the souls of the dead. He came to reverse the curse of death put on Adam and Eve and through them on humanity. Then, to prove that He was successful, He miraculously came back to earth for 40 days before going to be one with God again. Since then, God as the Holy Spirit, resides within baptized believers to prepare them for eternal life, free from sickness, sorrow, and sighing...and our arch enemy, the devil.

Doesn’t that sound like science fiction written by an over-active imagination?

Is Christmastime the season to celebrate an absurd story? Like the story of the king who paraded through town naked on his horse because he thought he was wearing special clothes. To pacify him, the townspeople also pretended that the naked king was clothed. Is Christmastime the season when around the world throughout history people pretend that there is a God who was born in a manger in Bethlehem? Some people pretend to believe better than others, but surely it couldn’t be true, because the story is absurd.

Look around at nature. See how fanciful and creative the world is with its millions of living breathing funny-looking beings and botanical wonders. That this complex creation has no creator is probably more absurd than that there truly is a super intelligent source. The Author of life can also author His own incarnation which is as true as the sunrise, and as mysterious as the petrified forest.

No one has to pretend to play along with the tale of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God incarnate.

God doesn’t want pretenders. Most, if not every true believer has personal experiences that continuously validate their belief.

It’s silly to celebrate an absurd story. But is this story absurd?

Try this.

On Christmas Eve, walk into your neighborhood church service. Close your eyes and ask Jesus to be born in the manger of your heart.

Pay attention. See what happens.

Next year, let me know if you agree that all that we do to celebrate Christmas is probably too little.

Evangeline

PS ALIVE will return in January. Merry Christmas!!!

The Power of Love, A Paschal Intermission from Moses


Holy Week is the time to contemplate the Power of Love because as Jesus said, "No greater love has a man than that he lay down his life for a friend." The power of Jesus's love has survived millennia of death and decay. Throughout the last 20 centuries, it has healed some, comforted others, given hope to the despairing and fed and protected many. Nevertheless, it has not died or dissipated. It is as potent today as it was in the 10th century or the fifteenth. Like any valuable thing, the Power of Love is difficult to acquire. It is rare and expensive. It can only be traded for pride and ego. Two items that everyone has too much of and is usually unwilling to relinquish.

My story about when the Power of Love transported me to heaven:

In 1972, while I was on vacation in Greece with my grandmother, I met George Boukis through new friends, Nick and Elly, in my grandmother's village in Mytilene. His father was a shipping magnate and the family lived in Wimbledon Common. George worked in his father's Athens office. The group of friends, of which George was one, and I was a newcomer, went to night clubs in Athens, swam at night, and in general just had fun together. When I returned to the States, George and I corresponded. He invited me to Athens in December when I graduated from college. I accepted. But first, I was to fly to his family home in England for New Year's Eve.

The experience of staying at George's family home was unique. I found myself in a very different world. I had never been to a home with servants. Dinner was served by footmen who passed around platters of food. There were only tiny little covered waste baskets in the bedroom because they were emptied every day. To make one's own bed was against the rules. There were original Renoir paintings and other master artists on exhibit in every room. Silence surrounded Wimbledon Common at night. That was eerie.

The family's social life was less impressive. Their social circle was comprised of similarly wealthy families. Most of their time was spent gossiping about each other. There were many rules of decorum that I had to quickly learn, such as to stand whenever an adult entered the room.

One day several of us went to a department store together. As I was riding the steep escalator, I looked down at the shrinking people below. They seemed to be as mice, and I sensed that only we were men. I was disgusted by that feeling, but I took note of it.

George didn't have a license to drive. When he wanted to go somewhere, he simply called for a car and driver. He hadn't gone to college because he already had a high paying job. He did whatever his parents wanted him to do. I didn't like these traits at all, but he was very kind, innocent, and untarnished. He thought very differently from me, and I was intrigued by the difference.

New Year's Eve at the Savoy Hotel with his family was like going back in time. The decor was dated 1950s, and the sound from the band matched. It was awful.

I left Wimbledon before George and went to Paris since I had never been. I wanted George to come with me, but he had to get back to work. A few days later, he had a car pick me up at the airport in Athens. He took me to his modern upscale apartment by the sea, miles from my cousin's middle class row house in Athens. George's grandmother lived in the same building.

Every day, I dressed up fancy only to sit in the beautiful airy apartment and read as I imagined rich wives with servants did while their husbands were at work. We played house. He would come home and we would dine together and talk into the night. I had my own room, but eventually we merged. The maid reported our sleeping arrangement to the grandmother.

George fell deeply in love with me.

One day, just as I finished reading Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the grandmother paid me a visit. The book had left me in a particularly mellow state. The grandmother insisted that I leave. I called my cousin and told him I was coming to his house. George was upset, but meek. Soon, I returned to the States and George wrote and called me often. He was beside himself and said he was clutching a single glove I had left behind. I wasn't sure how I felt since I didn't like him all that much. His parents were separating because his father preferred the mistress, and his mother insisted that he have nothing to do with me. Perhaps she wanted her son to feel the desperate pain that her husband inflicted on her. George tried to rebel because he loved me so much. But his mother's power over him was gradually winning.

Back home I got a temporary job to make enough money to fly to Las Vegas to be with my friend who was about to give birth. My job was at the corporate offices of Ginn's office Supply Company downtown. I was to file dirty razor-thin sheets of yellow paper in a tightly stuffed filing cabinet. The job was mindless and painful to my hands.

I was constantly deep in thought about the situation with George who kept professing his love. On one phone call from him, somehow, his mother jumped in. That was strange; had she flown to Athens? She insisted that he hang up.

Every evening after work I read the existentialists Andre Gide and Nietzsche, and I thought and wrote day and night about the meaning of life.

All of this ruminating about my situation with George and life came to a head one day, while standing at my file cabinet. I suddenly concluded that I would will myself to "Love" George. It didn't matter that I didn't respect or like him much, all that mattered was Love, which meant to put all of my opinions aside and devote myself to the concept of Love, which meant to care more about the other, the object of my love, than I cared about myself, my opinions. I willed myself to surrender to the concept of Love, which must involve sacrifice.

I was not a practicing Christian at the time. That came later. On this day it was only about Love.

The very moment I suddenly resolved to surrender myself to Love, while standing at the file cabinet, I was miraculously transported to heaven! I was in a beautiful bright and blue place. I was so very happy, and I wanted to stay there forever. There were no people only a bright baby blue cloudless sky and the happy feeling. Nothing else in the world mattered, only to be able to stay there. I knew that the reason I was allowed there was because of my commitment to Love.

Then, against my will, I returned to Ginn's and my file cabinet, and my sore fingers. Like trying to go back into a morning dream while it was still fresh, I was desperate to return to heaven, but all I could do was to try to remember the place. I attributed the experience to God and thanked Him.

My relationship with George deteriorated. The threats from his mother to disinherit this weak young man, to deplete from him of all that kept him inflated, was more powerful than his passion for me.

As disappointed as I was that my great sacrifice of self was not to be put in effect, I went to Las Vegas to help my friend with her newborn baby, and then joined the Peace Corps and became an art teacher in Sierra Leone. The next opportunity I had to go to Athens and see George, his mother had successfully wiped every ounce of innocence from his soul, the only thing I liked about him.

Years later, I was presented with another young man who adored me, an American who for me was a combination of the four men I had been most fond of in my young life. That was so uncanny that I assumed God had sent him to me to pick-up my commitment to Love where I had left it, at Ginns.

We married and together produced three children. During the next few decades I was given thousands of opportunities to put into practice the concept of surrendering my ego for Love's sake. I failed to reach this height many times, and often had to brush myself off and get up and try again. I never forgot about my visit to heaven. I hope that someday I may return to that beautiful happy place.

Although the commitment to Love let me in, I know now why I couldn't stay. The visit was to be a foretaste. It was given to me to show me the real, ironic, and everlasting Power of Love. The irony of Love is that it requires us to shrink our egos, in order to become great. Like Jesus did on the Cross.

I have since learned that it won't be how much money I earned, or how big my house was, or even how many grandchildren I had, but when the time comes, my credentials for re-admittance to that glorious heaven will be how well I fulfilled my commitment to Love.

I have since learned that Jesus Christ is the perfect model for this commitment to Love, and I am grateful to have such a model to measure myself by and to aspire to.

The power of Love overwhelms evil in all of its ugly forms. It is more powerful than uranium, more powerful than money. It is the only standard of measure for a life well lived. But it almost always comes at that highest cost.

There is no room in this short and fast life for rancor, bitterness, or retaliation. "Let the dead bury the dead" means to allow those who want to spread hostility and bitterness try to destroy each other, but instead turn the other cheek, and pray for them and love them into returning to the land of the living, where the power of Love prevails, and where Jesus emerges from the tomb to take our hands and guide us to that beautiful blue heaven, where we can live happily forever after.

Christmas is Champagne

The closest thing to man in the world is not the ape, it is the grape.

Grapes, like humans, come in many varieties, shades of red and green, sweet and sour, seeded or seedless. Like people, the grape can be used in a myriad of ways. It can be a juicy fruit, or a dry raisin, or squeezed to drink.

It is fun to think of one’s self as a grape. I wonder what kind of a grape I am. Am I a big sweet white grape or a shriveled rotten one? Or, in my old age, am I a dried up raisin? Did my sister turn to vinegar? I wonder if the girls waving their batons in the parade are grape juice.

The royal role for grape is wine. Wine is the only living beverage. Unlike spirits (e.g. whiskey) or fruit juice, wine improves over time. It is alive! Like people, wine is influenced by environment. The quality of the wine depends on the type of grape and the soil and weather conditions.

When Jesus Christ raised a glass of red wine and said, “Drink of this you all, for this is My Blood of the New Covenant” He was deliberately lifting up the grape. It was not because there was no water, or lemonade nearby that Christ used the glass of red wine to be His blood. It was because red wine promotes health of the blood-processing and nutrient-distributing heart, the core of our embodied life.

According to Saint John the Evangelist, when Jesus was on the Cross, after several hours of suffering He cried that He was thirsty, so they sent up a sponge dipped in vinegar. "When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, 'It is finished.' Then He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit." (John 19:28-30)

Sour wine, vinegar, is the end of the line, it has finished living. Perhaps the instant the vinegar quenched Christ’s thirst it hit His bloodstream and turned His blood to wine. Perhaps Jesus Christ reversed the death of the grape, just as He restored immortality to humanity.

That is one imaginative theory for why when the Church claims that wine-flavored Eucharist really is Christ’s blood; we are 100% right! Christ’s blood when infused by the vinegar became wine! It is holy chemistry!

It should not be surprising to note that the grapevine lives for an average of 33 years, the number of years Christ walked on earth. It is all so perfect!. If Saints were grapes, they would be fine wine.

Baby Jesus, in grape form, is Champagne! Champagne bubbles are produced during a second fermentation in a strong bottle that can withstand great pressure. Christ's dual nature can be compared to this second step. As God with us His human nature is formed by the pressure of His condescension from divine to human! Therefore, I say it is most fitting to celebrate Christmas with champagne! Partake of the symbol of baby Jesus,

Baby Jesus is the break-through of sunrise after a very long dark night. Celebrate His arrival with the royal champagne grape!

Merry Christmas!

Evangeline


Summary:
People are grapes.
Saints are wine.
Jesus is Champagne.

Epiphany and The Flood

How does Noah and his family's adventure, their baptism by flood in which they were drenched and surrounded by water that killed everything around them relate to Epiphany?

Water kills and water cleanses.

To be immersed is to die, to ascend from the immersion is to be reborn. To be reborn as a bonafide Child of God.

Noah and his family experienced the first and model baptism. Surrounded by the drowned dead, and then by nothing but water for weeks on end they were transformed, reborn into Children of the Most High God. This experience gave God the opportunity to recreate humanity and the world.

Yet, when it was over God pledged that He would never again destroy the world and humankind by flood.

Instead, baptism was instituted as a symbol of the ark's purification and rebirth process. (This is why exploring life in the ark is so valuable to understanding the depth of baptism.) We can do in a few moments what took over nine months to accomplish with the rebirth of humankind and this world.

When Jesus emerged from the waters of His baptism, the Holy Spirit alighted on Him in the form of a dove, and God the Father was heard proclaiming Jesus as His Son with Whom He was pleased. Could this be likened to the dove that returned with the olive branch in his beak to announce that the beginning of the new world was at hand?

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, began a new world comprised of 'as many as received Him, to whom He gives the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.*' These enjoy the kingdom of God within, and life everlasting. Jesus ushered-in the third and last beginning of this world, a watershed event in human history.

The annihilation of evil and wickedness by water, and the emergence of new life as reborn children of God happens with every baptism because it occurred during the forty days of rain, and was confirmed at Epiphany.

Let's each of us be baptized in our souls with Christ today that we may hear our Father who art in heaven say that He is well pleased with us too.

Evangeline

* John1:12,13

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Washington, DC. - The Holy Wisdom of God

Mid Penetecost Icon.jpg

Celebrated on the Feast of Mid-Pentecost

Consecrated May 10, 2015, 111 years after its founding.

[To] those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24

How is Christ the Power and Wisdom of God?

God's power allowed Him to become human in a way that flummoxed nature. He became man to rescue us from the grips of death, both in Hades and in sin, and to restore the human relationship with God that Adam and Eve had lost us. Thus He allowed us to be able to live with Him forever. Christ is the Power and Wisdom of God because of this brilliant mission.

Couldn't God have reversed Adam and Eve's fall from grace without having to endure the horrible crucifixion?

How? God wiped out all of sinful humanity from the face of the Earth except Noah and his family. Within minutes, Noah's son sinned with no opportunity for repair; the situation rapidly deteriorated again.

Then, God gave humanity the Law, the judges, and the sacrifice system to guide His people away from sin and back into relationship with Him. Yet death still prevailed.

So, there was no other way. He had to come to Earth Himself, and die in order to enter Hades, and release the dead. Then God could come in the form of the Holy Spirit to be an internal guiding light to His people.

Through the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Spirit, the grip of sin and death does not have the lasting effect that it once had. Αγία Σοφία, Christ, the Holy Wisdom of God!

Two Passovers and Two Pentecosts

Passover was the night when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Jews whose doorways were painted with the sacrificial lambs’ sin-infused blood. The next morning, when Pharaoh found his own first-born son dead, he released his hold on God's people and freed them from slavery's harsh bondage. The blood of the lamb repelled the Angel of Death and the death of Pharaoh's first-born son freed the slaves. Sound familiar?

Fifty days into the Exodus, God handed the Law and the Ten Commandments to Moses. This transfer is celebrated as the feast of Pentecost. It was God's first attempt to reunite with all of His people by telling them what He liked, and therefore how to be like Him.

On Pascha, the second Passover, the blood of the Lamb of God drove Christ into Hades to free the captives of death. This time, the blood of the 'Lamb' not only repelled death, it annihilated death. The death of Pharaoh's first-born son, which released Jews from slavery, was bested by the death of God's only begotten Son, which released both Jews and Gentiles from the bondage of sin and eternal death.

Fifty days after Pascha, God completed the first Pentecost. The first Pentecost gave the Jews the Law. The second Pentecost gave first to the Jews, and then to the converted Gentiles, the Holy Spirit. As our internal companion, the Holy Spirit helps us understand the spirit of the Law, the likeness of God, written on our hearts.

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:33

So what is Mid-Pentecost?

Pascha and Pentecost, meet on the 25th day between them. Like the child of two loving parents, Pascha and Pentecost, Mid-Pentecost commemorates the totality of the Holy Wisdom of God, Αγία Σοθια.

Mid-Pentecost joins the two most essential events that join us to God, to herald their common purpose, that is, to restore fallen mortal man to the immortal image and likeness of God, our Creator.

To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12, 13

Spirit- filled believers gradually become a new creation of man; we are becoming children of God.

What does Mid-Pentecost have to do with the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple?

And when He was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival (Passover). When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Assuming He was in the group of travelers, they went a days journey. Then they started to look for Him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When His parents saw Him they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, Child, why have You treated us like this? Look, Your father and I have been searching for You in great anxiety. He said to them, Why were you searching for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Fathers house?But they did not understand what He said to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:42-51

If there is only one thing we know about God, it is His affinity for shrinking, for the small things, for condescending, for humility. He can't get any bigger, so He does the opposite (1Kings 19:12). His power is represented in the small ways in which He reveals Himself. Christ's wisdom as an adult during the festival of Passover, when He preached in the temple, indicates to us how wise He was. But the twelve-year-old Jesus, shows us His Godly wisdom even more: He was so young and rarely travelled to the temple because He lived so far away in Nazareth. "And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding."

Holy Child Jesus had not yet performed any miracles. He had not yet been baptized or healed anyone, or walked on water, or raised from the dead Lazarus, or the son of one and the daughter of others. He had not yet been crucified or resurrected. But He was still God and, at twelve years old, all He had to show for it was His wisdom.

How does that relate to us?

Parishioners of Saint Sophia Cathedral, whether five or ninety-five years old, should reflect on the Holy Child Jesus. As we enter the temple of our church, let's be reminded of the Αγία Σοφία, Holy Wisdom of God, which vivified us with Resurrection and Pentecost. More than that, let's recognize ourselves to be reflections of the twelve- year-old Christ, in the temple of our Father, thirsting for knowledge. Let's ponder in our hearts how to embody the Wisdom of God at Mid-Pentecost in its nascent form, through the boy Jesus.

As with the Holy Child Jesus, each of us Saint Sophians has a magnificent future: a future of small deaths and large resurrections and, being filled with the Holy Spirit, an eternal life in which we will meet God face-to-face in new bodies. As Orthodox Christians we live in continual anticipation of a glorious eternal life, for which we express our gratitude now through our works.

Names have meaning: they identify us, and they purpose us. To be a Saint Sophian is to be aware of the power and wisdom of Mid-Pentecost, and to worship with the enthusiasm of twelve-year-old-Jesus.

We don't have to walk on water; we don't have to raise the dead; we don't have to feed five thousand with a loaf of bread. We have only to enter the temple as the home of our Father and learn and worship until someday we find ourselves transformed into full-fledged children of God. Δόξα ο θεός.

Pascha, The View from the Top

Climbing this mountain has been challenging, exhausting, exhilarating, educational, and finite. It is over! We finally made it, with the help of our Saints, and with the leadership of the west who went ahead of us.

The air here is thin and clean. The sun shines brightly over the land. From this distance I see no evil, I hear no evil. Neither fear nor death has its grips on me.

I wish I could start again. The only thing I dislike about Easter is that the rigors of mountain climbing are over. I could act the same, but it's never the same. The church doors are locked during the week and the fellowship of mountain climbers has disappeared.

Perhaps I could try to stay on this mountaintop, but I know that the demands of my village below will pull me down whether I like it or not.

As the two sisters taught me though, I always have Wednesday's and Fridays and Sunday's to relive the crucifixion and resurrection experience. It will have to be enough until next year.

But I feel a story coming on...so stay tuned!

Χριστός Ανέστη

With love,
Evangeline

Christ - mas

Dear Fellow Aspiring Immortal,

On my trip to the Holy Land, I visited the birthpoint of Christ, and send you these pictures.

This place reminded us of the humanity of Christ. To quote James Martin, SJ in his wonderful book, 'Jesus a Pilgrimage' "God comes to the world as a human being, at the risk of confusing Mary and Joseph, so the rest of us will not be confused. Confused about God? Look at Jesus. See what he does. Listen to his words."

Jesus came to fetch us Adams and Eves after the expulsion that separated humans from God’s perfect will for us to live happily near Him forever. Jesus came to heal us, to comfort us and to teach us God’s ways. He came to guide us through this life and ultimately to annihilate death for us.

For all of these reasons and more, Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving.

Our Christmas gifts to each other and to the poor are simply tiny reflections of our Creator’s enormous gift.

May you experience the newest year ever by taking some of your precious time on earth to study Christ through the Gospels and then by listening for the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, counsel you personally in your heart, and discover the wealth that true life has to offer. Let the New Year renew you.

With love,

Evangeline

Happy Mother's Day to the Bride

The best mother in the world is invisible. Her children are born, not by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Mother of God's sons and daughters, I.e. you and I, receive from Her as much or as little as we want of Her guidance and nurturing. We receive the antidote for sin and death, and other sacred sacraments. She gives us a home in which to be together, to worship God and to love each other as a family.

Mother's Day is not in the Bride's year. Her focus is outward, not on herself, but like the visible moms She should be acknowledged for her tireless service to us, and to God.

Moms are often taken for granted, and this mom is no different. Imagine a world, imagine a town with no churches at all. Where would we go to celebrate, to be together, to refresh our souls? A town without a church would be like an orphan child, hollow and melancholy. For many of us She is the only mom we have on earth.

Why not begin this Mother's Day, by visiting the Bride of Christ, the Church, our invisible Mother. Let's let Her know how much we appreciate Her love and guidance. Let's give Her something nice, or do something special for Her. Let's receive her phenomenal gift of the Eucharist.

I'll bet it would please Her and our Father who art in heaven very much to know that we visited Mom this Sunday to thank Her for everything.

To all the bio-moms, spiritual mother's, acting-mothers, and to the Mother of a God too, Thank-You for loving so well. You truly are the salt of the earth.

Peace,
Evangeline

Pascha, The Glorious Eighth Day

I opened my eyes still tingling with joy and sleepiness. The clock read 8:00 to remind me that today is the glorious and mystical eighth day.

God created the world in six days, and on the sixth day, He made man (and on the sixth day, man crucified Him). Then on the seventh day He rested, the Sabbath (Saturday). On both the day after the creation and on the day after the crucifixion, on the holy seventh days, He rested. On the eighth day, the Jewish baby boy gives his piece of life-giver to God in circumcision. On the eighth day (Pascha), God gives immortality back to mankind. God believes in give and take; He is not interested in one-sided relationships.

On the eighth day Resurrection, Israel's quest to be rid of Jesus failed. That hurt. However, the failure also marked the fulfillment of the covenant. The deal that Abraham would become the ancestor of a multitude of nations was paid in full. Abraham is not just the ancestor of the Arabs/Islam, through Ishmael and the Jews through Isaac and Jacob but since the eighth-day Resurrection, Abraham is truly the ancestor of many nations. His Greatest Grandson, Jesus, adopted a world of peoples and brought Abraham more children than he could imagine. It is official. No one can trace a bigger family tree; like the stars on a clear night and the dust particles on the ground the seed of Abraham covers the earth. The eighth day circumcision and the eighth day resurrection are the beginning and the end of a very good deal.

As a parent bribes his child with worldly riches, a bike, a ten-dollar bill, to get him to do something that is more important to the parent than to the oblivious child, God bribed Abraham to get him to mark a body of people of His very own (with circumcision) . The Jews are not Abraham's people. They are God's chosen people, His control group. Abraham received the multitude of nations as God promised. God received one nation, the tribe of Judah, into which He would someday place Himself as a man, and walk on earth as Adam did. What Adam would not do, God would do Himself. God, as Jesus, would trust God. Through Jesus, God would restore His image and likeness to humankind by individual acts of free will; neither by nature, genetics, nor slavery would humankind be immortal as God, but by a human's own desire and self-sacrifice would God's children eventually live with Him on a new earth happily ever after. This is super-long range planning, but so what. God has all the time in the world.

For God, the covenant was never about money and power, or even land; it was always about immortality.

And so on this mystical eighth-day morning Evangeline begins life anew with a refreshed soul that just caught a glimpse of God and won't let go.

 

Excerpts taken from The Immortal Life by Evangeline Hopkins.

 

Extract from The Queen and Me

And now for something completely different: an extract from my story 'My Vacation in Heaven' about visiting the Virgin Mary while in heaven:

 

 

Over the next hill I saw in the distance a large lake with a beach on one side and majestic hemlock trees surrounding two thirds of the lake. As we approached the shore I spotted a lovely young woman among a group of children. She looked up and started walking toward us until she was close enough to reach out her hand to me, "Welcome, my name is Mary. We have a lot to talk about. Come."

"Holy Mary, Mother of God!" I blurted out. Instinctively I knew that she was THE Mary, the original after whom billions of ladies, including my own mother, were named. "I am deeply honored to meet you in person!" Seeing the Virgin Mary was like meeting an old pen pal.

"Come, let us sit together." She gently took my hand and together we walked to her cabana facing the lake. When I sat down, she said, "Ask me whatever you’d like."

"How can you do all that people expect of you? You are the head of the Greek Navy and the queen of Mt. Athos; you intercede to your Son for billions of souls. You must not get a moment’s rest." And without stopping to hear her reply, lest I forget my questions I added, "How did you communicate with me on earth, are you an angel? Did you really never die? Tell me about that? Did you know Jesus would rise after the crucifixion? What you must have gone through!"

"Is that all?" she asked with the patience and conviviality I would expect from a queen. "God trained me well to trust Him. Like you, from my first childhood thoughts, I knew He was alive and with me, guiding me, comforting me and encouraging me. The trip to Egypt, the pregnancy, those events, like the hard times in your life taught me how to walk through dark tunnels. I eventually learned to see without eyes. "Do you remember where Scripture says, ‘Awake you who sleep. Arise from the dead. And Christ will give you light?’ When my Son tells you to wake His sleeping sheep, He wants you to shine light on them. Bring them out of the darkness."

"That sounds important." I said, "What is darkness?"

She smiled as if to remember how stupid I could be, and then replied patiently, "Darkness is anything that distorts or hides truth or causes separation from God such as pride, pornography, and drunkenness."

"You think my job is hard. Not so." She added, "By avoiding darkness I am able to give people guidance. This awakens them. By seeking my help they are reminded of why I have such influence. I would never entertain darkness, not the darkness of the gossipers when I was pregnant, nor the darkness of the flight to Egypt. Nor even the darkness of His trial and crucifixion. Darkness lies.

To wake the sheep shine the light on the darkness that is around them and within them. Remember you only need a little light to eradicate darkness."

Then remembering my other questions, she said, "Dormition, was I sleeping? They called it sleeping because that’s what it looked like to them, but I only shut my eyes so I could see the light inside me that lead me here. It was a gift for me to be able to bring my own body with me here. The joy of living here is infinitely greater than what the sleeping people think they will gain from darkness. We can only feel sorrow for them, never anger. Enough lessons. It’s time for my Dormition feast. Come, let’s dance together! We will continue to speak often when you go back, especially now that you know the sound of my voice.

Would you like to borrow a dress for my party?"

 

 

The Love Mom Mark

The fifth commandment demands that we honor mom...every day. 

They need more wine.  (Jn 2:3) Woman what does your concern have to so with me? (Jn 2:4)  Whatever He says to you, do it. (Jn 2:5)

One man said he would do it and did not, the other refused, but regretted it and and went. Which of the two did the will of his father? (Mt 21:28)

Look your mother is seeking You. Who is My mother or My brothers?  For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and My mother. (Mk 3:33-35)

John, behold your Mother. (Jn 19:27)

This mark says to do what she asks, whether you want to or not.

Never leave your mom vulnerable. Care for her. If you must go, then find John and turn her over to him.

The Mark of Christmas

The Mark is the target formed by the commands of Christ. They teach us how to be like God, how to become a child of God. Unlike most teachers and preachers, Jesus Christ shows by example everything He tells us to do, and more. The wisest among us study Christ's life as much as we study His teachings. Even his birth teaches.

I wonder if it was even harder to be born than it was to be crucified. We think that the pain and humiliation of the crucifixion was the ultimate act of love because we can identify with the unfair trial, or imagine people jeering at us with disdain. We can imagine the embarrassment of the public flogging and the grief and agony of leaving behind our friends and family at death.

On the other hand, we can no more imagine the human birth of God’s only begotten Son than we can remember our own.

When Christ told the man to sell all he had, give the money to the poor and follow him, was He reminded of Christmas when He shed the glory of the heavenly throne to become a helpless infant born to modest parents in a stable? Jesus Christ let go of everything He had to give us eternal life in obedience to His Father. He has indeed done everything He asks us to do.

The Mark of Christmas is to find ways to emulate this level of love, humility, and adventure!

Hark! Do you hear herald angels singing?

I pray that this Christmastime brings you the humbling awareness of the enormous sacrifice that became Christmas.

Maybe our extensive debt-making gift-buying is one way to do it! Spend all that you have on your friends and enemies and follow Him.

Peace to you,

Abundance to you,

Light in you,

Evangeline 

Pentecost - Queen of Days

Every year we squeeze ourselves into that upper room and wait. We imagine how wonderful it will be to instantly speak another language; this year I hope it is Italian. Every year we wonder what it really looked liked to see tongues of fire hovering over men's heads. Every year we are amazed and grateful.

This year let's fly to the throne room in heaven, behind the curtain of this firmament and visit God as He prepares to penetrate men's souls.

On the wings of this wish and prayer our hearts soar. Hold my hand, let us dare to approach the conference room where the Holy Trinity has gathered. Sh..., listen to that mighty wind about to descend to earth. It reminds me of the wind of God that swept over the waters on the first day of creation. Can you hear God speak?

"Today I will baptize My people with My Spirit and with fire. We will undo the separation among men that I caused at the tower of Babel. They will be reunited with each other in understanding even as they are reunited with Me.  I will bring together men of all nations Africans and Asians, Arabs and Greeks, Jews and Romans; no man shall be overlooked.  To commemorate the day in which I handed my Laws to Moses I distribute My Spirit to all people. Correctly is it written that from this day forth men will no longer need books because I will write My precepts on their hearts."

As I listened, I thought, "Who can hear these words and not be shaken to the core?" then I heard God speak again.

"From this day forth, everyone who calls on My name shall be saved from destruction at the end of the age. To them I will make known the ways of life and make them full of gladness with My presence. Look below and see the peoples gather to repent and be baptized one by one.  Now let each man receive that which You Jesus promised when You said that it is to mankind's advantage that You go away so that the Advocate could be sent.  Spirit of truth the hour has come for You to go forth upon the earth to guide men in all truth and to help them unto the ages of the ages."

Suddenly I was blinded by a great light and I felt myself falling through the skies. The mighty wind was carrying me back to earth. Time was going by, but it was a pure empty kind of time. A kind of time that I never before experienced. I felt peaceful in its emptiness. Then sound entered our space. Just as I felt the earth approaching, I heard God's say, "On this day I give birth to my Bride, the Church."

Ascension to Pentecost - Our Turn

Last Thursday, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, ascended to God His Father after His great mission on earth to reverse the separation between humanity and its Creator caused by our friend Eve, and her husband Adam. Jesus went back home to heaven from where He came. Apostle John told us this in his Gospel when he wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

The time between Easter and the Ascension, when Jesus walked on earth in His new body is spectacular. There are only 11 sightings of Him. We know He ate food and walked through walls: two very fun things to do. It is said that He was showing us what our immortals bodies will be like. I’m so glad we will still be able to eat! “Thanks God!”

Finally one Thursday, because the powerful 40 day time period had passed, as it did when He was in the wilderness being tempted, as it did when Moses visited God on Mt. Sinai, as it did when Noah was in the ark, and the 40 year Exodus, and the 40 years of David’s reign; when the 40 days had passed, Jesus was ready, willing, and able to go Home.

It was no longer useful to God to have Jesus walking around His beloved planet Earth because His mission was accomplished. Besides, one man, as divine as He was, could only do so much. God, the Father, would replace Jesus with His own Holy Spirit.

Miracles are not enough, and never were, to restore the relationship between God and those whom He made in His image and likeness: that’s us aspiring immortals, His children, and His creation called mankind. Miracles are a good start, but only a start.

So that we could follow Jesus’ ascension to heaven, to God the Father in the presence of the host of angels, we need the Holy Spirit to guide us, and teach us, and heal, and comfort us.

In these days between Ascension and Pentecost, we experience in our souls, those receptors of God’s communication with us, the mysterious period of time when neither Jesus is here, nor has the Holy Spirit been sent. It is an empty time of loss and anticipation. Stop, think, and feel.

To experience through the imagination, is no less an experience. It is replete with sensory information that can be quite valuable to our formation as true children of God. In this ten-day period between the ascension and Pentecost, let us take some time to look around at a world with only the memory of Jesus and His amazing mission and His spectacular ascension. Let us anticipate something we could never imagine in our wildest dreams. God, the Holy Spirit will come to dwell within our bodies and minds one person at a time. If we can imagine what it is like to live without that aid, then perhaps when the time comes, we will be able to perceive the presence of the Spirit within and be in a perfect position to have our own ascension to the Father. Follow the Leader.

Ascension-The Homecoming

“Oh the Son is coming back, the Son is coming back. How glad the Father will be. How joyous the Son. Lets us prepare for His return,” exclaimed Angel Sebastian.

The angels and archangels in heaven were elated when Gabriel told them that the time had come for Jesus to return. You never saw such merriment. The expedition into humanity and onto earth had been a kind of death to them who missed the Son the most. Some of the angels had gone down to participate in the Grand Mission, but most were only given reports of Christ’s activities.

It wasn’t enough to watch Him and to minister to Him in His most difficult hours. They wanted Him back so heaven could be “normal” again.

The Holy Spirit heard that sentiment and corrected Sebastian saying, “It will never again be as it was. Oh, of course We are happy to receive the Son into Our arms, there is much to discuss about the Mission. However, now I must leave to travel the face of the earth, and soon our heavenly realm will be populated with human souls. You must help them to adjust to life here. No, it will never be the same again.”

At that the bellowing sound of French horns, tubas, and trumpets invaded the air heralding the coming of the King of Kings. All the angels quickly fell into formation in rows and rows of Powers flanking the last miles of the pathway to the golden entrance of the heavenly kingdom. Once past the entrance into the kingdom, the Powers were replaced by rows of Principalities who for this occasion were permitted to leave their guard over the nations and leaders of the world.  Behind the Principalities were three rows of Archangels lead by Michael and Gabriel.

Flanking the entrance of the Throne Room for this holiest of occasions hovered the cherubim in disciplined stillness but not in silence. Stringed instruments played Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, the Pastoral. Beyond the entrance on pedestals stood two majestic thrones with bright red sapphires and sparkling emeralds, amethysts and topaz jewels embedded into the purest gold frame the eye of man has ever beheld.

Hugging these two thrones, except for the wide isle in front of it, were rows of Seraphim to greet the Lord of Hosts, the Chief Commander of all angelic beings. The Throne usually stand around the throne of God, those four winged and four faced charioteers with their fat cheeked faces, who sparkle like the color of burnished brass. Not today. The thrones will return to their posts after the festivities.

Of all the ranks of angels only the guardian angels had to stay back on earth; who could not be involved in the home coming.

“Here they come; here they come!”  Indeed, the brilliant shining Virtues were seen escorting the ascending Christ to the throne of God the Father.

As the Christ approached the throne room, sections of angels followed sections of angels chanting Hosanna in the highest, alternately with long melodious chants of Alleluia.

Only the Seraphim could actually see the face of God when His eyes first beheld the return of His Son, and the holy hug that followed the Son’s deep lunge to His knee.

Following the blessed greeting the Son took His place on His own throne nestled in the sound of all the angels cheering together, and all the instruments sounding, and all the wings fluttering, and all the trumpets trumpeting. This was no cacophony but a rather a symphony of activity so strong and so beautiful that it was hard to believe how quickly the silence returned at the sound of a bell.

God spoke. “There is work to be done. The earth phase of My Son’s mission was only the beginning of the My purpose to immortalize humanity. For now, we celebrate.”

The Son never looked so radiant, so peaceful and so at home. 

I God You my Valentine

 

When a child I was told that God is love. That information made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I imagined that it meant He was like my Teddy Bear who always smiled and let me hug him all night without squirming away.

When Jesus said to love my enemies, to be good to them because God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked I had to think just a little bit harder about what love is. I wondered if God is kind to me when I am ungrateful and wicked; if He patiently waits for me to be kind too. God’s love is not as void as my Teddy Bear’s.

Love has to overcome some pretty powerful resistance to be itself. Being impatient and angry is like sledding down a snowy hill, when really love is walking back up. I suppose I would much rather be loved then to love others.

If I can be loved by God and anyone else who is foolish enough to try hard to become like God who loves His enemies, the wicked and ungrateful, then I don’t have to do anything at all.  I can even be unkind and wicked. I can lie and cheat and steal and hate my sister and God will still love me because He can’t help Himself. He is love and the only way He relates to anyone is via the love channel.

God’s love for each person is a compulsive love which sometimes is appreciated and reciprocated and sometimes it is ignored. Poor God.

I think God tries very hard to be loved and I feel sorry for Him because He doesn’t have anyone above Him, like His own God who must love Him no matter what He does. The way I see it, God works hard for our love.  He teaches, and gives amazing gifts and He heals. These are some of the reasons I love Him so much. I know I can trust Him because He is honest, He never ever lies to me.

I am so happy to know that I don’t have to work as hard to be loveable as God does. I suppose one of the reasons that God wants people to follow Him, to be exactly like Him is for the relief He experiences of being loved no matter what happens in their lives, even bad things that aren’t fixed right away like sickness and poverty or even loneliness.

Okay, I won’t be silly anymore because those thoughts make me feel too sad; it is all so unfair.

God is love. I want to be like Him, just like Him in every way, even when it means climbing up a snowy hill, and loving people who are mean to me or ignore me just as He does. This way God will know He found someone in me that loves Him too, no matter what.

My dear Valentine, you don’t have to be a Teddy Bear for me to love you because of what God taught me. But it would help. :-)    

Glory Be to the Father

 

Crystal clear cut diamonds that scatter rainbows when her hand reaches or talks; musical tones with perfect pitch, symphonies penetrating to fill the core with delights; laughing out loud together till tears roll out of our eyes; the presence and being of men who are good fathers.   

He is the originator of a new life. He is the authority over the obedient. He is the guardian and protector who opens wide the door to exploration and magical discoveries. He is the teacher of the learned and the nurturer of the healthy. He is their provider. When he is tangible, he can hug and be hugged with strong arms that envelope his child with warmth and perfect peace.

The most blessed among us has four fathers, all sublime figures of perfect personhood. One, the father- half who bore us, in whose body, then heart we lived and who lives in our hearts, the man who first took our tiny hands and watched them grow into tools. Two grandfathers, a step behind but not less fatherly for it, and their Model, God, our Father who art in heaven, are the four-fathers of the happiest and strongest of immortals.

Glory be to good fathers today. You make your world glow. You men outlive your bodies for generations in the hearts and memories of your beloved children. Glory to you and thanksgiving to you and to the women who bestowed fatherhood upon you. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His Countenance to shine upon you and in you. May He give you the desires of your heart, peace, and a place of leadership beside Him in Kingdom Come. Joy.  

The Slow Birth of the Bride

It is written that God made man on the sixth day, and that it was a terrible disappointment how he turned out because man disobeyed God’s warning not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so the man and his woman died of distrust and disobedience. God does not make mistakes. He knew that was only the first step in the creation of His most glorious opus—self replication for the purpose of creating His Bride.

After many thousands of years when the creation had time to settle in, God’s magnificent endeavor was ready for the next phase. During Passover, the miraculous escape from the tyranny of slavery of the children of Abraham-Isaac-n-Jacob extracted from humankind a chosen body.

Fifty days after Passover Moses brought down from the mountain Sinai the Tablets of Law. Shavuot is marked by the harvest of winter wheat, the Festival of Reaping. From His place on high God sent wheat and words to live by. The Lord provides. The chosen were to replicate God by being Law abiding people. Heppy Shavout or as the Greek-Jews would say, ‘Heppy Pentecost.’

After many thousands of years when the chosen of God had time to settle in, His magnificent endeavor was ready for the next phase. Just as the first step of the sixth day birth of mankind was not a failure; the second step of replication by Law was not a failure either. They were the slow deliberate steps-necessary for the formation of the immortal Bride of God, a single golden thread of light glimmering in the woof and weave of earthly life. Birth takes time.

The third trimester began at Pascha/Easter after the miraculous escape of the natural body from the tyranny of death by the archetypal Golden One among the chosen ones, the immortal Christ Jesus.

Fifty days later, from a mountaintop light-years higher than Sinai, the gift of the Law was supplemented by the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s opus to create His Bride, His helpmeet, His counterpart was complete. She was born in a room filled with men of the Law of Likeness. She spoke in words everyone could understand. She was crowned with tongues of fire. This Bride of God gives birth to children of God, filled with His Holy Spirit to replicate Him throughout the world and unto the ages of the ages!

This, my aspiring immortal friend is why and how it took so very long for God’s Bride to be born. The Pentecost of the Law and the Pentecost of the Spirit mark release from slavery into freedom, from darkness into light, and release from mortality to immortality with one purpose, to replicate God in His Bride.  In English Her name is Church, Ecclesia in Greek. She is Jewish and she is gentile. E pluribus Unum, ‘Out of many, One.’ She is One, Holy, Universal, and Apostolic, a genuine beauty!

Heppy Birthday Bride of God. Let’s get our white gown ready! I hear the Bride Groom coming!

Motheringlyness

Does every country make its people stop to remember mothers? I don’t know, probably not all of them because there are so many and they are so different from each other, these hundreds of countries on our planet.

Countries like mine which do want its people to remember mama are being like good mothers.

My good friend Cole and I like trains a lot. We like the way the wheels fit right on the tracks and make going so sure of itself and so secure. That train knows just where it’s going. All it has to do is regulate its speed. Trains hardly ever care about cross traffic to stop for, or wrong turns, or pushy intruders butting into their paths. Trains and train tracks make good examples of mothers and their children. Mothers make us feel secure when they form the tracks under our little feet that guide us to adulthood and through it for as long as we live and as much as we want them to.

The Church, even though some people only think of it as a building to go to on certain days of obligation, is actually the mother of aspiring immortals. She forms the tracks under our feet to the path of nothing-but-life, and goodness and peace-undisturbed, and God-light that will replace our dependence on sunlight some day and forever.

Not everyone has a mother to bless today and to thank here and now for all of the self sacrifice and love and the goodies she brings into our lives. Not every woman is a mother who plays out the role in her unique way. But every aspiring immortal has the Bride of Christ to guide him or her, to strengthen and feed and form the tracks under our feet to Kingdom Come.

Today on our path through life, this little train of me sees a great big red STOP sign. It is time to stop and see the beauty of mothering and be grateful and show gratefulness and any way our hearts lead us. I think that makes our Father who art in heaven very happy. 

We Are Risen!

  

Alleluia. Christ is risen! Since we, the baptized and aspiring immortals, died with Christ, then what does it mean for us to be risen?

Christ came back from the dead and ate and drank with people to prove He wasn’t dead. When we were baptized we put on new clothes and received communion (like Christ ate too). He stayed for forty days back in this old time zone, but for me it has been decades.

The SURPRISE moment of showing up again after being taken for dead, was so much fun, but surprises wear off fast and then you’re just at the party. What next for us after the crucifixion/baptism?

Hint please.

Okay John, what did you say in your gospel? “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of will of man but of God.”

I was reborn into this world by the will of God, a new kind of human being, a new creation. Mmmm…what does that mean?

Okay Paul, help me out. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”Corinthians

Wait, I think it’s becoming clear! Christ stayed in the time zone for 40 more days after shocking the world with His return from the dead. But since I died with him, and you too, then we are as good as Christ having united with Him at the crucifixion/baptism and so from God’s point of view we are Christ’s ambassadors on earth whose job it is to continue to reconcile people to God, the Father--with the help of the Holy Spirit. (Thank God!)

Easier said than done!

I spent all of Lent trying to know what it means to be in Christ and to have Him in me, when all along, we are not two people joined together like partners but more like one new kind of person. I was trying to find Christ in me when all along I should have picked up my mystical mirror. No wonder I had such a tough time; all of me is He. When He returned and looked like a stranger He showed us that it doesn’t matter how different we look from Christ, He can still be us, and people can recognize Him in each of us.  

I don’t mean to sound like a cynic, but how can I, a twenty-first century Christ, reconcile others to God without the healing power (God knows I’ve tried) and all the other miracles. I’m sure it would have been hard, even for Christ to be so effective in reconciling people to God if He didn’t help them out in so many miraculous ways.

Perhaps He didn’t reconcile human beings to God through the miracles. He reconciled humanity to God by sacrificing His life for them. I can’t die or be baptized again, but I can put others first and I can show them the way to Kingdom Come, because I know the way and so do you.

This is the bottom line. We aspiring immortals are the only Christ some people will ever know.  Rise and shine!