POTLUCK SUNDAY — July 28
This coming Sunday is our monthly Potluck Luncheon. Our monthly potlucks are a real highlight of our parish life so be sure to invite family and friends. Refreshments over the past few weeks have been more like luncheons, so I can only image what Sunday’s potluck will be like. It will be great!
As usual, members of our church family are asked to bring a Main Dish, or a Side Dish and a desert. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing.
This Sunday I will be preaching an important sermon on Bible prophecy from the book of Daniel. We are all familiar with the 490 year prophecy relating to the coming of the Messiah in Daniel chapter nine, but the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel contains the longest time prophecy in Scripture.
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14). Does this prophecy cover 2,300 days, 1150 days, or 2,300 years? When does it begin? When does it end? What is it speaking of? The defilement of the Holy Temple by Antiochus Epiphanies and its cleansing in the time of the Maccabees? The Second Coming of Christ to cleanse the earth? The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary? Or something else?
This prophecy has great importance for us and our day. You won’t want to miss this sermon. Bring your Bible and come ready to learn. God keeps His promises and is with us every step of our pilgrim journey. Invite your family and friends. This exciting message will open their eyes and make them see the Holy Bible in a whole new light. It is not a dusty old book, but is as relevant as tomorrow’s headlines!
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the presbyters of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).
The Sacrament of Holy Unction — the Anointing of the Sick — with prayer for healing will be administered this Sunday during the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. If you or someone you know is struggling with physical, emotional or mental issues you (and they) will want to come forward and receive this Sacrament of healing. Not a communicant? You can still come forward and receive the laying on of hands with prayer for healing.
RECTOR’S CONTINUING EDUCATION
I have been studying Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity all of my adult life. The discoveries are now coming so fast that it is hard to keep up. We now know far more about this pivotal era than anyone has known since the second century. It is amazing. God is doing something wonderful in our day.
The classes that I am taking from Israel have been a tremendous blessing. In the past I have read a terrific book on the Gospel of John titled, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, by Dr. Eliyahu Lizorkin. The book reinforced what I already knew or suspected, and filled in some gaps and missing pieces. But now, I actually have Dr. Eliyahu Lizorkin as an instructor!
Jesus, and all of the apostles, the prophets and the patriarchs were all Hebrews. To properly understand their messages one needs to think like the ancient Jews thought, and that is very different than the way we think today. All Western thought (and that includes Greeks, Greek Orthodox Middle Easterners, and Slavs) is based on that of the ancient Greek Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.
We are taught to think using abstractions. Abstract thinking is a way of thinking about things that is removed from the facts of the “here and now,” and from specific examples of the things or concepts being thought about.
Jewish thought on the other hand is very concrete, focusing on how things really are in the here and now. Jesus taught through his parables and sermons, using concrete examples from which we can derive truth. For instance, rather than arguing philosophically, he taught to look for something observable, such as by their fruits you shall know them.
In preparation for the Anglican or Orthodox ministry we learn philosophy and abstract thinking. It is even worse in Rome, where ministerial students take a whole year of philosophy before studying anything else. Things were very different in ancient Judaism where pagan Greek philosophy was rejected and Hellenization was resisted as we see in First and Second Maccabees.
The classes that I am taking keeps reminding me to think like a first century Jew, and this is very important for processing, understanding, and teaching the Scriptures, theology, and all of the important discoveries that are now coming to light. Thanks to this continuing education I am refining my understanding of God’s Word in terms of what it meant in its day to its original audience, and how to apply it today without changing its original meaning.
Jude 3 is very important to us at Holy Cross parish: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
The “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” was delivered in the first century, not the 1950s, the 16th century, the 11th century or even the 4th century. The era which we call Second Temple Judaism, into which Jesus was born and lived, and the apostles ministered, is pivotal for our understanding of Scripture and the Gospel. This era is often described as stretching from the Maccabees to the Mishnah. And we indeed talk a lot about this era at Holy Cross.
If you would like to get a good overview of this important time, I can highly recommend a book to you. It is titled, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, by Shaye Cohen, and published by Westminster John Knox Press.
The book is now in its third edition. The eighth chapter is new, and may or may not be good, but the rest of the book will be excellent. I believe that my copy is a first edition. I have had it for a long time. You can buy it through Amazon. Here is the link;
I hope that you will consider purchasing and reading this book. It will give you the historical background needed to get so much more from your reading of Holy Writ, from what you hear from the pulpit and what we will be studying in our adult Christian Education class this Fall. Enjoy!
PARISH FOOD BINS
Our parish food bins are about half full. The needs are great, so let’s get the bins filled up so that this much needed food can be delivered to the Open Door Mission. Food of all kinds are needed, as is bottled water, but what the Open Door Mission is especially asking for right now is canned fruit and boxed macaroni and cheese dinners. Thank you!
Sunday Matins is at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with our monthly Potluck Luncheon after the Liturgy. There is always plenty of good food and warm fellowship so be sure to invite family and friends. Everyone is invited and visitors are always welcome. We are a faithful and friendly parish, and we have a place for you.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Fr. Victor Novak
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127