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Although we didn’t have a blizzard amount of snow overnight, we had enough that we are snowed in. The plow didn’t open our road until noon, and our plowman hasn’t been in yet to open the driveway. Our garage door is now completely blocked with snow, but we don’t use it in the winter, and it would be an annoyance if we needed it. The garage is being used for storage right now, and it will remain that way until spring or summer, when some of it will be converted to box stalls. The truck sits in front of the house rather than across the road in the garage.

So we didn’t get to church this morning. The usual broadcast from the Washington Cathedral wasn’t posted, so we didn’t watch that. Instead, Nicholas found a broadcast from St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. Yes, the liturgy was in Greek, but that really doesn’t bother us, as we are familiar enough with it in English to know what was going on. The sermon was in English, though. It was a good exegetical sermon, Biblically based,¬†without polemic.

The church itself was beautiful, with icons and an iconostasis, magnificently painted. The usual reaction Protestants have to an Orthodox church or a High Roman or Anglican church is “This must have cost a lot of money!” Yes, often old world craftsmen are brought to decorate, but it is only done once. The people of the parish donate the money, and perhaps the bishop; the building is completed, and that is that except for routine maintenance.¬† The church building represents the New Jerusalem. It is a place apart from the world. Despite what many Protestants are taught, the icons (images) are not worshipped. They are a focus for prayer, and when most people were illiterate, they were the religious “literature” that taught them about the faith. Orthodox, Romans, and Anglicans do not “pray to the saints.” Those who rest in the Lord do not have supernatural powers. But they are living in the presence of the Lord, and we ask them to pray for us, for they know His will perfectly. Just as we ask for the prayers of those who live here on earth, so we can ask the prayers of those who live in heaven, for He is the God of the living, not the dead. (Matthew 22:32).

I am reading a very good guide for those unfamiliar with the icons, which some may find helpful. It is by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. It is called The Dwelling of the Light, and one of the icons he discusses hangs in my view as I read it, the Russian icon by Rublev known as “The Hospitality of Abraham.” It is an icon full of grace, and light, and an airy joy. It is radiant with holiness. It is a perfect visual song of the nature of the divine Trinity.

I’m a little overwhelmed with early winter family issues, and may not post much this week, but I really want to tell you about Ancient Faith Radio. This is broadcast over the internet (ancientfaith.com) and is the most uplifting and meaningful resource for traditonal Christians whose faith is centered in Ancient Orthodoxy – that is, the church as connected to the Church of the Apostles. Nicholas set it up on our computer so that we can listen to it whenever the computer is on. Our bargain table $5 Compaq speakers give great sound, and I am listening to this incredible chant and music right now.

Orthodox music of faith does not use instruments. It is usually chanted in a variety of tones, with either male or female voices, and sometimes both antiphonally. It is prayer, not performance. Ancient Faith often has the chants presented in English rather than in Greek or Russian, although those ancient tongues are so beautiful that not understanding the words does not inhibit the understanding in the heart.

Scripture or quotes from the Early Fathers are interspersed with the chant. It is comforting, challenging, and transcendent.

Right now, I can sit in our little bedroom study, work on my handcraft (as so many of our monastic sisters still do) and gaze upon the icons while hearing the beautiful, traditional expressions of the unbroken faith of the church. It is a monastic experience indeed.

God bless the work of Ancient Faith!

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