These are not classes on high theology that are intimidating or difficult to understand. We focus on the “down to earth” and practical ways we should understand and live our faith. In His parables to the masses, Christ always used practical examples from everyday life to help people understand and draw near to God. We use the same model and spirit in this class.

Power and Authority

Join here LIVE on OCN FACEBOOK Sunday at 11:30 am EST.  

A brief reflection on the nature of power and authority and the difference between the two according to the Scriptures; how they differ from the world’s understanding and practice; and how understanding the difference should shape our thoughts and actions.

Referenced Scriptures:
Power: Matthew 6:13, Romans 1:20, Acts 3:1-12, Ephesians 3:14-20
Authority: Matthew 9:5-8
Power and Authority: Luke 4:31-36, Luke 9:1-6, Luke 10:17-20, Ephesians 1:51-21
Christ and Worldly Power/Authority: Matthew 4:8-11, Luke 4:5-8, John 18:33-37, John 19:10-11
Misunderstanding/Wrong Desire of/for Power: Acts 8:9-23

Beauty and Repentance

A brief reflection on why understanding and experiencing beauty is formational to gaining and sustaining a repentant heart.

Referenced Scriptures
Repentance: Mark 1:14-15, Matthew 27:3-4, Matthew 6:21, Matthew 13:45-46, John 10:10,
Psalm 50 LXX/51. Beauty: Genesis 13:1-13, 2 Samuel 11:2-5/2 Kingdoms 11:2-5, Isaiah 53:1-12 (see verse 2), 1
Kingdoms/1 Samuel 16:7,

Being a True Disciple of Christ in Today’s World

Join us for a discussion and reflection on what it is to be a true disciple of Christ in today’s world, and what this is in practice regarding money, authority and obedience, and our spiritual disciplines.

Referenced Scriptures:
Hebrews 4:12-13, Matthew 10:24-27, Romans 8:24-25, Matthew 7:7, John 15:5, Romans 7:15-20,
Matthew 16:24-27/Luke 9:23-26, Matthew 6:24, Luke 14:25-33, 1 Timothy 6:7-10, Mark 12:41-44, Mark
10:17-31, Acts 18:24-28, Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1, 1Timothy 2:1-3

Idle Talk and Idol Talk: Choosing our Words Carefully

Reflection on Christ’s teaching on the importance of choosing and using our words carefully and responsibly, and why not doing so harms others and condemns ourselves in the process.

Relevant Scriptures: Matthew 12:36-37, Matthew 15:18-20, James 3:1-12, Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs, 18:21

Do We Want to Be Well?

Join our discussion on our heart’s desire to be well; why wellness of body, mind, heart, and soul, is something that has always been understood within Orthodoxy; how today’s science supports what we have already known; and why true wellness is difficult for us to achieve.

Relevant Scriptures
John 5:1-15, Luke 17:11-19, Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 6:5

Racism, Differences, and the Love of God

Join our discussion on Racism, Differences, and the Love of God. Adult Education for this week’s class on #myOCN Facebook live. A  reflection on the sacrilegious nature of racism, how and why we have always had a great inability to deal with differences in general, and how changed hearts through God’s love is the only pathway to healing.

Hiding in Plain Sight

For this week’s class on OCN Facebook live for a reflection based on how we all hide in plain sight at times, projecting to the outside world that all is well while hiding our struggles; and how in doing so we miss opportunities to put Christ’s teachings into practice and deprive others of a chance to do the same for us.

Maintaining Our Well-Being in this Time of Crisis

For this week’s class, we are altering the format slightly. We will not be using Zoom and will be returning to OCN’s Facebook live ( Also, instead of a one hour class, I will be offering a briefer reflection based on how understanding God’s nature and living out this understanding daily helps us maintain our well-being during this time of national and global crisis.

Relevant Scriptures

Psalms 117:27 LXX, John 8:58, Exodus 3:14, Matthew 6:11, Matthew 6:31-34, John 10:30, Philippians 4:6

May 10 Lesson: The Church as our Mother. 

St. Cyprian famously said “No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother.” We are in a dark time right now with the impact of the coronavirus keeping us from our spiritual mother, the Church. We miss her, and although technology permits us to “stay in touch,” and have a long distance relationship, it is not the same. Our mother, the Church, nurtures us through the Sacraments and by providing us sacred space filled with beauty the eye sees and the heart experiences. Fyodor Dostoevsky also wrote, “Beauty will save the world,” so this Sunday will focus on the beauty of the Church’s spiritual motherhood, the masculine and feminine nature of God, and Mary, the Theotokos. Sponsored by St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Bethesda, Maryland.

Faith & Doubt – Recognizing the Unrecognizable Christ – Part 2

All the accounts of the risen Christ in the Gospels show Him to be initially unrecognizable, and then recognized differently by different people and in different ways. In this week’s class, we will examine these accounts in-depth, discuss the obstacles that kept those in the Gospels who encountered the risen Christ from recognizing Him initially, explore the differences in each account, and discuss how these same obstacles apply to us today in terms of recognizing Christ in our lives.

Seeing the Heart: Recognizing the Unrecognizable Christ

Relevant Scriptures
These scriptures will be referenced in the lesson if you wish to read them ahead of class: John
1:37-39, John 1:6-9, John 8:12 , John 9:5 , Genesis 1:3 , Revelation 21:22-23 , John 14:6 ,
Matthew 11:15 , Deuteronomy 29:4 , John 12:40 , Mark 16:9-14, Luke 24:13-35 , Luke 24:36-
49 , John 5:39 , John 20:1-19 , Matthew 28:1-10 , John 20:19-28 , John 21:1-14

Palms and Prayers: Exploring Courage and Humility

The world has been brought to its knees in both fear and prayer, but will it stay as prayerful when the threat of the coronavirus subsides. On Palm Sunday, we will explore the examples of courage and humility in the Gospel and how they pertain to the situation we find ourselves in today.

 The Coronavirus: Finding Peace in this Troubling Time

Weekly Ministry of Adult Education at #myOCN Community. Share where you are joining from. The Coronavirus and Finding Peace in this Troubling Time with Sacramental Living Ministries with Michael Haldas & The Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George, Bethesda, Maryland

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). We are in a troubling time with the coronavirus that threatens our lives and physical, emotional, and financial health. This is exacerbated by necessary social distancing which protects us but also robs us of both the ability to worship together in person, and the needed comfort of the physical presence of our loved ones. These conditions can easily create fear, anxiety, depression, and panic. All of these circumstances are very real and need to be taken seriously. However, this is also an opportunity to ask ourselves some difficult questions, look deeper into what is occurring to better understand it, and in doing so gain a measure of the Lord’s peace. In this class we will discuss the coronavirus in the context of death and mortality; healthy and unhealthy fear; plagues, evil and God’s will; humility and repentance; communion, distancing, and loving one another; and God’s judgement and love.
Suggested Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:16, John 14:27, Philippians 4:6-7

The Jesus Prayer and Praying in the Name of the Lord

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…” (Philippians 2:9). When we pray the Jesus Prayer we are calling upon the name of the Lord. We are taught in the Scripture above that the name of Jesus is the name above all names. What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus as the Apostles did throughout the book of Acts and as they taught in the Epistles? Praying in God’s name is also found throughout the Old Testament. Why are we instructed to pray in God’s name when we pray? In this Sunday’s class, we will explore the power and meaning of praying in the name of Jesus, the sacredness and meaning of names in general, and why this is particularly relevant in times like this when the coronavirus and all of its unknowns and implications threaten to overwhelm us at times.

Suggested Scripture
Philippians 2:9-10, Genesis 4:26, Romans 10:13, Joel 2:32, Exodus 3:13-14, John 8:57-59, Matthew 14:22-27, Matthew 1:21/Luke 1:31, Luke 10:17, John 14:13-14, Acts 3:6-7

Specific Topics we will be covering:
1. First time we see the significance of understanding of naming in scripture
2. First time we see significance of praying in the Lord’s Name
3. Significance of God giving us/telling us His Name
4. Why God gave Himself the human name He did
5. The Power of Jesus’s Name and praying in His Name
6. The significance of name changes in the Bible

The Jesus Prayer as the Prayer of the Heart 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The Jesus Prayer is sometimes referred to as the Prayer of the Heart. Both the Holy Fathers and contemporary science have a lot to say about what the heart really is and the effects of prayer. In this week’s class we will continue our discussion on the Jesus Prayer. We will explore why it is called the Prayer of the Heart, what the heart is, spiritual power of Jesus’s name and names in general, the different stages of prayer we encounter in the practice of the Jesus Prayer.

Suggested Scripture: Matthew 6:7-8, Philippians 2:9-10, Luke 10:17, John 14:13-14, Acts 3:6-7, Luke 18:38, Luke 17:13, Luke 18:14, 1 John 1:8, Luke 15:32, Galatians 4:6

The Jesus Prayer and Meditative and Contemplative Prayer in Orthodoxy

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” After the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Prayer and all of its variations is probably the most well-known and most used prayer by the Orthodox faithful. In this week’s class, we will begin our discussion on this prayer and its scriptural roots, the power of the name Jesus, meditative and contemplative prayer in the Orthodox Christian tradition, and, most importantly, what prayer does to us terms of our union with God. We will compare and contrast revelation versus cognition, and discuss what the Holy Fathers taught about our nous, the innermost part of who we are, and referred to often in English as either the heart, the mind, or the “eye of the soul.”

Suggested Scripture

Matthew 6:7-8, Philippians 2:9-10, Luke 10:17, John 14:13-14, Acts 3:6-7, Luke 18:38, Luke 17:13, Luke 18:14, 1 John 1:8, Luke 15:32, Galatians 4:6

Our Daily Bread, Forgiveness, and Temptation

“…Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” In this week’s lesson, we will unpack the meaning of these last three parts of the Lord’s Prayer. We will discuss how we should understand the Greek word used for ‘daily bread,’ discuss why ‘lead us into temptation’ is often misunderstood and what it really means, why ‘evil one’ is a better translation than just ‘evil,’ and why Christ choose those words. Time permitting we will discuss prayer and fasting, how Christ prayed and then transition to the Jesus Prayer and meditative and contemplative prayer in the Orthodox Christian tradition. Whatever we do not cover this week, we will cover in our next class(es).

Suggested Scripture
John 6:51-56, Matthew 5:43-45, Matthew 5:23-24, Mark 11:25-26, James 1:13, Matthew 26:41, 1 Peter 5:8, Matthew 17:14-21, Acts 13:2

The Purpose of Prayer and How We Pray – Part 2

“…prayer ought to be the center of our lives – be we clergy or laity in our search for spirituality – union with God.” (Bishop John of Amorion). Last week we began our discussion of how to pray with a particular focus on the Lord’s Prayer, how to pray this prayer taught to us by Christ Himself, and what each part of it really means. In this week’s class we will extend our discussion of the Lord’s Prayer, and then move to the Jesus Prayer and meditative and contemplative prayer in the Orthodox Christian tradition. We will continue to share our experience of prayer and how to deepen our prayer life to enter into greater union with God.

Suggested Scripture
Matthew 5:43-45, Matthew 6:5-7, Matthew 21:21-22, Mark 11:25-26, John 14:12-14, Matthew 17:14-21
Matthew 26:41, Matthew 21:12-14, Matthew 26:36-39, Luke 22:41-44, Luke 6:12-16, Mark 1:35

The Purpose of Prayer and How We Pray

“Because prayer is a living reality, a deeply personal encounter with the living God, it is not to be confined to any given classification or rigid analysis”(Fr. Steven Peter Tsichlis). Last week we discussed the nature of prayer, how when we pray we are cooperating with the Holy Spirit within us, and how prayer’s primary purpose is to enter into union and communion with God. Though prayer does truly defy confinement and rigid analysis, we want to know how should we pray? When should we pray? What prayers should we pray? In this week’s class we will discuss the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Prayer, meditative prayer in the Orthodox Christian tradition, and what prayer looks like in the context of our various stages of growth in the Lord.

Suggested Scripture
Matthew 5:43-45, Matthew 6:5-7, Matthew 21:21-22, Mark 11:25-26, John 14:12-14, Matthew 17:14-21
Matthew 26:41, Matthew 21:12-14, Matthew 26:36-39, Luke 22:41-44, Luke 6:12-16, Mark 1:35

Prayer, Christ, and the Holy Spirit

As we continue our lessons on the Holy Spirit, this Sunday we will focus on prayer. The desire to pray and our action of prayer is the operation of the Holy Spirit within us. Our greatest teacher on prayer, both by His words and actions, is Christ Himself. He sent us the Holy Spirit from the Father so we can continue to pray in a way pleasing to God to bring us in union with Him. In this Sunday’s class, we will examine prayer in the Spirit and talk practically and specifically about how we should pray and what our heart’s purpose should be during prayer.

Suggested Scripture
Matthew 5:43-45, Matthew 6:5-7, Matthew 21:21-22, Mark 11:25-26, John 14:12-14, Matthew 17:14-21
Matthew 26:41, Matthew 21:12-14, Matthew 26:36-39, Luke 22:41-44, Luke 6:12-16, Mark 1:35

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit Part 2 – Self Control

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22). Self-control is the last fruit of the Spirit St. Paul mentions in this scripture. The entire list is bookended by love and self-control. Ironically, to have true Christ-like love in our heart for God and others, to gain the self-control St. Paul references, is to let go of control and die to self as Christ teaches. It is in the abdication of control to Him that we gain the fullest measure of control. In this Sunday’s class we will again examine the Greek words used in the Bible for self-control and explore all of its facets to gain a deeper understanding of what St. Paul meant and how to apply it to ourselves.

Suggested Scripture:  Galatians 5:22-26, Wisdom of Sirach 18:29-32 (OSB); 30-33 (online), 1 Corinthians 7:5, Titus 1:7-9, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Romans 7:7-25

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit on OCN Sunday

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22). Like a seed the grows and ripens into sweet tasting and healthy fruit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us (which must be cultivated) takes time to grow. This growth is evident by the characteristics St. Paul lists in this often read Scripture in the Orthodox Church. In this week’s class, we will focus on this list with special emphasis on the first four: love, joy, peace and long-suffering ( often translated as ‘patience’). We will examine the Greek words for these characteristics as they provide a deeper and richer understanding of what Paul meant, and explore what they mean to us in our daily lives.

Suggested Scripture
Galatians 5:22-26, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, John 15:9-17, John 16:16-24, Psalm 90:4 (89:4 LXX), 2 Peter 3:8-9, James 1:2-4, Colossians 1:9-12

 The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Adultery

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? (James 4:4-5). These strong words from James, the brother of the Lord, speak to spiritual adultery and the Lord’s passion to save us from it. But what do the Scriptures mean by spiritual adultery and what does it look like for the modern person. This Sunday we will continue our series on the Fruit of the Spirit and discuss this biggest obstacle to our spiritual growth and salvation.

Suggested Scripture

Galatians 5:22-26, James 4:4-5, Ephesians 5:31-32, Hosea 1:1-3, Hosea 3:1-5 Matthew 5:27-30, Matthew 18:8-9, Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7, Ephesians 5:8-11

The Flesh versus The Spirit

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another…” (Galatians 5:16-17). This Scripture is the beginning of St. Paul’s famous passage about the “fruit of the Spirit.” We will be focusing on the fruit of the Spirit for the next several weeks. However, we first need to understand what prevents the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the seed God has planted within us, from ripening into fruits than then yield fruitful works in our lives. This Sunday we will look at Christ’s and St. Paul’s teachings about “the flesh” and what they really mean when they use that word, and how “spiritual adultery” has been an ever present problem since antiquity and one we all face.
Suggested Scripture
Galatians 5:22-26, John 6:63, Matthew 26:41/Mark 14:38, Romans 8:5-8, Ephesians 5:8-11, Matthew 5:27-30, Matthew 18:8-9
Discerning the Holy Spirit

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). How do we know whether our thoughts and perceptions are from the Holy Spirit or not. In a world of myriad religions, thoughts, and philosophies, how can we truly discern truth and the Holy Spirit. What does it mean when the Apostles and the saints tell us to test the spirits? In this week’s class we will discuss how we can discern the Holy Spirit in ourselves and in the world and how to avoid spiritual deception and delusion.
Suggested Scripture
Luke 10:17-21, Matthew 16:13-23, Ephesians 5:8-11 1 John 4:1-3, 1 Corinthians 12:1-3, Colossians 2:4-10, 2 Peter 2:1-3, 2 Thessalonians 2, Matthew 24:24

Forming Christian Culture – Culture and the fullness of the Trinity Part 5: Receiving or Rejecting the Holy Spirit

“And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:10-12). In this Scripture, Jesus shows us both the consequences of rejecting the Holy Spirit, and the fruits of being in complete communion with Him. In this week’s class we will discuss what it means to truly reject the Holy Spirit, the various wrongheaded ways we can fall into that lead to this rejection, and, most importantly, how we can receive and live a life in the Holy Spirit.

Suggested Scripture
Luke 12:8-12, 1 John 5:16-17, 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, Matthew 21:12-13, Acts 8:9-25, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Matthew 12:43-45, Luke 16:14-15, Proverbs 6:16-19, Luke 10:17-21

Forming Christian Culture – Culture and the fullness of the Trinity Part 4: The Ways of the Holy Spirit

“The full power of the Spirit did not descend upon the Apostles when they first joined Christ. Their confirmation in the Spirit came after Jesus had taught them how to be receptive to it” (Father James C. Moulketis). The Holy Spirit is not something we just have. He is a Divine Person, our helper, advocate, and comforter, who Christ sent to us from the Father to have a relationship with. To be receptive to the Holy Spirit and have a relationship with Him that results in our peace and joy, growth, and salvation means we must both understand and do certain things, and conversely not do other things that make a relationship with Him difficult or even impossible by our choice. In this week’s class we will discuss the ways of the Holy Spirit in us and in the world, and what we must do and not do to cultivate a rich and rewarding relationship with Him.

Suggested Scripture
Matthew 7:7-8, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, Luke 12:8-12, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Matthew 12:43-45, Luke 16:14-15, Proverbs 6:16-19, Luke 10:17-21

Forming Christian Culture – Culture and the fullness of the Trinity Part 3: Hearing and Discerning The Holy Spirit

“Only those who are mature in faith can hear and discern the promptings of the Spirit” (St. John Chrysostom). Becoming mature in faith to the point where we can discern and trust our inner promptings as that of the Holy Spirit takes time and requires choice and deliberate effort. As St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain says, “The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian when they are baptized acts and is manifested in proportion to our obedience to the commandments of the Lord.” The word obedience comes from words that mean to hear, listen in, and respond. We do this with the Holy Spirit through our nous. Nous is often translated as heart, but is actually described by the Holy Fathers more like a sensory organ. Much as the eyes, ears, and other physical parts of our bodies are used to describe how we experience the five senses, the Holy Fathers described our nous as that which allows us to perceive the Holy Spirit and the invisible things of God. In this week’s class we will discuss the state of our nous, and how we our formed by the Holy Spirit.
Suggested ScriptureGenesis 2:7, Psalm 51 (50 LXX), Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 12:8-12, Matthew 12:43-45, Luke 10:17-21, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Forming Christian Culture – Culture and the fullness of the Trinity Part 2: Who is the Holy Spirit?

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:1-2) Who is the Holy Spirit? We know no one has seen God the Father (John 6:46) but we can relate to what and who a Father is. We can certainly relate to Jesus the Son in His divinity and humanity through the Gospels and the Scriptures. But the Holy Spirit is the most mysterious of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. We sometimes have trouble understanding Him as a Divine Person and what our experience of Him is personally. Yet the Church and Christian culture were formed, and continue to be formed, by and through the action of Holy Spirit. He convicts each person to the truth of Christ and the Father and unites us in one Body of Christ. This week we will explore who the Holy Spirit is as a Divine Person, His role as one of Three Divine Persons of the Godhead, and how He acts in each of us and our lives.

Suggested Scripture

John 20:19-22, John 16:5-15, John 3:5-8, John 15:26, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 2 Timothy 1:6

Forming Christian Culture – Culture and the fullness of the Trinity Part 1: Childhood and The Son

“The Word became flesh at a particular moment in time; He grew from an infant into a man over a span of years. Nevertheless, the Word is eternally begotten of the Father; the Word is eternally the Father’s child.” This quote by Orthodox Christian professor and author Vigen Guroian has a profound implication to how we understand our childhood, the raising of our own children, and how this effects the culture of our home and all around us. In this week’s class, we will discuss what Christ being the eternal Son of God means to use in our roles as children and parents, what about modern psychological and sociological theory on children and childhood is compatible and not compatible with our theological understanding, and the differences between childlikeness and childishness

Suggested Scripture

Proverbs 8:23-30, Mark 1:11, Mark 14:36, Matthew 18:1-7, Mark 10:13-16, John 1:11-13, Romans 8:16-21, 1 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Forming Christian Culture – Creativity, Balance, Sacramentality, and the Story of the Gospel Part 2

“For a Christian is not called to flee the world or mankind, to reject or curse it. He is called to bring the light of Christ’s teaching into earthly life and to creatively reveal the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the fabric of this life. And this means that we must create a Christian culture.” In this week’s class, we are going to continue to discuss the many implications of this quote by the Orthodox religious and political philosopher Ivan Ilyin from his 1937 book “Foundations of Christian Culture.” Specifically, we will cover the role of art, story, and creativity as a means to deepen our sacramental understanding of reality, and how each of us can become lights of Christ. We will look at what the Bible, certain Holy Fathers, and others have to say about these topics.
Suggested ScriptureChristianity as “The Way” – John 14:6, Acts 9:1-2, Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23-37, Acts 22:1-5, Acts 24:10-16, John 17:14-19,Christians and the World – Romans 12:2, John 15:18-25, John 17:14-19, 1 John 2:15-17

See Less


Culture, Secularism, and The Kingdom Within

“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He [Christ] answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). Last week we defined and discussed the differences between secular culture and Christian culture. We also explored some of challenges secular culture presents to Orthodox Christians. This week we will examine these challenges in depth, discuss why secularism is particularly lethal to the Orthodox Christian worldview, and why this quote of our Lord Himself can actually be very misunderstood and mistakenly applied in a very secular way. Lastly, we will examine why some leading Orthodox theologians call secularism a Christian heresy that comes from the Church itself.
Suggested Readings
Luke 17:20-21; Matthew 13:30-32, Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19; Matthew 17:14-20, Luke 17:5-6
Christian Culture versus Contemporary Culture: An Introduction
Please note we are aware of microphone issues and are doing our best to get them resolved.  Thank you.

“The culture of our own time continues this separation from Christianity, but not only from Christianity. Contemporary culture is losing its religious spirit, its meaning, and its beauty.” This quote by Russian religious and political philosopher Ivan Ilyin, written in 1937 in his book Foundations of Christian Culture, seems like it could have been written yesterday. It was true then and seems even more true now. For this first class of the 2019-2020 Religious Education year, we will compare Christian culture to contemporary culture, or modernity, and discuss the profound differences as they apply to us a persons and as community.Suggested Readings: Bible Passages that Speak to the World and Culture
John 15:19, Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:15-17, Revelation 7:9

Archived classes 2018 to 2019 Theme: LIVE Adult Education: Shared Experience of the Orthodox Christian Faith

The Resurrection and Turning Our Image into His Likeness– Part 2 (Last class)

There are 11 Resurrection Gospels. If you read them all you will see themes emerge of recognition and understanding, and love and doubt. The resurrected Christ was not physically recognizable to most eyes. He was only recognizable through an understanding heart. Furthermore, most of those who has spent several years with Jesus prior to His crucifixion, and had witnessed His numerous miracles, still had trouble believing in the resurrected Christ even when He was standing before them. They loved Him but were assailed with doubt. Last week we explored in-depth the themes of recognition and understanding. This week, in the last Adult Education class of the 2018-2019 religious education year, we will further explore the themes of love and doubt and how we can overcome our doubt to open our hearts to the love of Christ.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:1-8, Mark 16:9-20, Luke 24:1-12, Luke 24:12-35, Luke 24:36-53, John 20:1-10, John 20:11-18, John 20:19-31, John 21:1-14, John 21:15-25


The Resurrection and Turning Our Image into His Likeness

Genesis 1:26 reads, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Though some see image and likeness as interchangeable terms, most of the Holy Fathers teach that the image of God is imprinted in us and is the nature of our souls; whereas His likeness is something we grow into through sanctification. It all depends on our free will choices and actions. The resurrection of Christ and His appearances to the Myrrh-bearing women, Mary Magdalene, and the Disciples during His final forty days on earth teach us much about image and likeness. In this class we will explore the lessons from 11 resurrection Gospels and what they mean to us on a daily basis in terms of our spiritual growth and salvation.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:1-8, Mark 16:9-20, Luke 24:1-12, Luke 24:12-35, Luke 24:36-53, John 20:1-10, John 20:11-18, John 20:19-31, John 21:1-14, John 21:15-25

Renewal, Revelation, and the Holy Spirit

We just celebrated a glorious Holy Week and Pascha. This was followed by Bright Week where each day was called a Renewal Day (i.e., Renewal Monday, Renewal Tuesday, etc.) because it is an opportunity, in this heightened time of spirituality in our ecclesiastical year, to start fresh and renew our hearts for Christ. The Church, in its wisdom, places the Sunday of Thomas right after Renewal Saturday to remind us how easy it is to still have doubts and fall back into old patterns of thoughts and behaviors once the elation of Pascha is over. In this Sunday’s class, we will explore how we can stay renewed and continue to acquire the Holy Spirit who opens our hearts by revelation to the truth revealed to us in Christ.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: John 3:27-36, Galatians 1:11-24, Ephesians 3:1-13, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Acts 1:4-8 and Acts 2:1-38; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

The Lenten Spiritual Journey Part 5 – Climbing The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Falling off a ladder can cause serious physical injury or even death. Falling off our spiritual ladder can be equally damaging. Our union with God, which ultimately leads to the joy and happiness we are all seeking, depends on how well we climb the 30 step ladder St. John Climacus describes in his classic work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent. In this Sunday’s class we will examine in detail the Patriarch Jacob’s dream and life story which served as the inspiration for St. John’s ladder. We will also discuss the Orthodox understanding of Christ and the Virgin Mary as the ladder between Heaven and earth and, most importantly, apply what this all means to our daily lives in a practical way that will aid us in our spiritual growth.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Genesis 25:12-34, Genesis 27:1-46, Genesis 28:10-22, Genesis 29:1-28, Genesis 32:22-32, Ezekiel 43:27-44:4, Proverbs 9:1-11, Galatians 5:16-25

The Lenten Spiritual Journey Part 4 – The Crossroads of the Cross: Making the Choice for Christ

A crossroad is literally the intersection of two or more roads. Metaphorically, coming to a crossroad is a point at which a crucial decision must be made that will have far-reaching consequences. At this mid-point of Lent, when we celebrate the Sunday of the Holy Cross, we are reminded that we are always at a crossroads in our lives where we have to either choose the road leading to the Cross or the road leading away from the Cross. This choice will indeed have far reaching consequences in this life and the next. Suffering wakes us up to the reality of this choice, but comfort dulls our senses. This Sunday we will explore the meaning of the cross in all of its facets and how it applies to our daily lives.

Suggested Readings 
Relevant Scriptures: Luke 9:23/Mark 8:34-35/Matthew 16:24-25; Psalms 22/Psalms 21 LXX, Isaiah 53; Matthew 27:46/Mark 15:34/Luke 23:46/John 19:30; Matthew 27:32/Luke 23:26, Luke 14:25-35; 1 Corinthians 1:18

The Lenten Spiritual Journey Part 3 – Exploring God’s call on Our Lives

We all have callings in life. It may be a calling to a certain job or career, a calling as a volunteer, a calling to ministry, a calling as a parent or spouse, and more. We also call these callings vocations. If we believe we receive callings/vocations, do we also believe they come from a caller? In Christianity our vocation is to draw close to God, to love Him and love others. Our vocations are the many different things we do in this life at various stages where we have the opportunity to demonstrate our love of Him and others. As we are now formally into our Lenten journey, we will continue discussing Moses and Exodus story we began last week, and use it to explore how we hear the call of God in our lives, and how we either accept it, or become tone deaf and reject it, preferring self-will over His will.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Exodus 16:1-17:7Exodus 24Exodus 32-34Matthew 3:13-4:17

The Lenten Spiritual Journey Part 2 – Water and Wilderness: Moses, the Exodus, and Us

The stories in the Old Testament foreshadow the fullness of the truth revealed in the New Testament. The stories of the people and events in Genesis and Exodus are particularly important and it is impossible to understand the full truth of the Gospel without knowing them. In this Sunday’s class we will continue to connect certain events in the Old Testament with those in the New Testament. We will further look at the spiritual meaning of the number forty and the symbolism of water, but expand it to understand the meaning and symbolism of the wilderness since so many significant events of the Bible happen there. We will also discuss what all of this means to our spiritual journey as individual persons and members of the body of Christ.

Relevant Scriptures: Exodus 1:1-4:17Exodus 13:17-14:31Exodus 16:1-17:7Exodus 24Exodus 32-34

The Lenten Spiritual Journey Part 1 – The Meaning of 40 Days and 40 Nights

Next to the number seven, the number forty occurs most frequently in the Bible. It is mentioned 147 times. Further, numbers are not just numbers in the Bible. Every number has a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. Forty is a particularly meaningful number. There is a reason it is used so much in Scripture. The Biblical use of the number forty heavily influences our liturgical cycle, fasting periods. and church calendar. Most importantly, the number forty has distinct meanings that inform and speak to our human condition as we understand it spiritually within the context of our faith. Because we are approaching Lent and the great 40 day journey, we will begin this Sunday what we will be the first in a series of lessons exploring these meanings in the context of Biblical stories and what they mean to us.

 Truth or Consequences – Hard Truth Part 3

Truth or Consequences was an old humorous TV game show that originated in 1940 and ran in various versions off and on until the late 1980s. It is also the actual name of a city in New Mexico. But Truth or consequences in reality is more serious than a game show and much bigger than a city. It’s a condition of life. Christ is the truth and choosing anything less than Him to include half-truths and lies opens us up to the consequences of our wrong choices – the choices Christ wants to save us from. In this class we will continue to discuss the hard truth about the truth and how we can avoid the same timeless wrong choices we see people make in the Gospels.

Relevant Scriptures: John 8:40-44Genesis 3:4-5Mark 3:20-35Matthew 23:1-39John 6:41-70Romans 1:18-25Galatians 6:7-8Romans 6:23

The Hard Truth About the Truth – Part 2 

Last week we covered some very difficult teachings of Christ regarding truth, namely that most of us prefer lies or half-truths over Christ, who both is truth and testifies to the truth. We discussed how the blindness to the truth of the religious establishment and much of the people of Christ’s day is the same today. This week we will go even deeper and further examine the reactions of the people Christ preached the truth to while He was on earth, and examine reactions of modernity to the same message.

Relevant Scriptures: John 8:13-59 (Genesis 3:4-5), Mark 3:20-35Matthew 23:1-39John 6:41-70Romans 1:24-25

The Hard Truth About the Truth

The Gospel of John is the greatest written testimony to the truth. It teaches us what and who truth is, where lies ultimately come from, and why human beings most often prefer lies over truth, darkness instead of light, and truth only in small measure. The famous movie line “you can’t handle the truth” seems to actually be true. But why is that? Why is it so hard to live truth and why is it so easy to accept anything less than truth as okay? In this week’s class, we will explore what John’s Gospel account teaches us about truth and lies, and how both start in our hearts before making their way into the world as actions and behavior.

Relevant Scriptures: John 14:6John 1:14-18John 18:37-38John 4:23-24John 3:10-21,John 15:18-16:15John 8:13-59 (Genesis 3:4-5), John 6:41-70Romans 1:24-25

Our Choices Matter – More Than We Know 

As Orthodox Christians we understand God loves us so much and perfectly that He gives us near complete freedom. It is near complete freedom, as opposed to total freedom, because we have freedom of choice but not freedom from choice. Only God has freedom from choice. At any given moment in time we are always making choices. Even a choice not to choose is a choice. In the Gospel accounts, Christ usually presents us with two choices and they always come down to our salvation or condemnation. God can save us from anything except our choices. In this class, we will explore what Christ and the Scriptures teach us about choice, how to make the right ones, and why it is so easy to fall into self-deception that leads to wrong choices.

Relevant Scriptures: Proverbs 15:3Matthew 7:13-27Matthew 24:36-44Luke 12:101 John 5:14-17Luke 6:20-26Matthew 6:19-241 Corinthians 1:14-24Matthew 9:22/Luke 8:48Mark 5:34Mark 10:52/Luke 18:42Luke 17:19 

Counting the Cost

Most of us need to be cost conscious. We can’t just spend what we want and when we want without considering costs of things and the impact to our finances. We assess the value of something compared to its cost before we decide to buy it. Christ tells us to do the same thing when it come to following Him. Though He freely offers Himself to us, there is a cost to being His disciple. Sadly, He tells us many times and in many different ways in the Gospels that few of us make this choice because we perceive the cost to either be too high, or we do not see the value of what He is offering. Yet, He never stops offering Himself to us. In this class we will explore in-depth the cost and value of discipleship according to Christ and what is should mean to us.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Matthew 4:18-221 Corinthians 12:27-13:8Luke 14:25-35Matthew 10:32-39Genesis 11:27-12:4Luke 9:57-62Luke 8:4-15Matthew 22:1-14Luke 18:1-8,Luke 17:12-19Mark 10:17-29Mark 10:35-45Philippians 3:1-21

Dealing with the Disorder of our Souls ”Out of Order”

We’ve seen this sign or message on vending machines, ATMs and other contraptions, and it requires a skilled repairman to fix them. If we could look inside of ourselves, we may see a sign on our souls that says the same thing. Do we feel out of order? Some of us may, some of us may only at times, or maybe we don’t feel that way at all. Our Orthodox Christian faith tells us that despite how we may feel, we are all disordered within and we need Christ to repair this disorder. In this class we will explore the principles of order and disorder as taught to us in Scripture and our Holy Tradition, how disorder affects us like an illness, and why order and proper alignment are vital to spiritual health and well-being.  

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Genesis 1-2:3Proverbs 8:22-30Romans 8:18-25Acts 17:28Luke 11:24-26/Matthew 12:43-45Matthew 25:1-13, 31-46Ephesians 5:8-6:20

Relevant Articles: Bringing Order Out of Disorder: The Trials of a HousewifeOn the Spiritual StruggleThe Freedom of the Person,

The Perniciousness of Pride

Pride is typically named first in the list of “the seven deadly sins.” It is the first sin ever committed according to Scripture. Although many people give intellectual assent to the harmfulness of pride, our culture also celebrates pride in overt and subtle ways. What place, if any, should pride have in our lives? What is okay to be prideful about? Does pride have a positive and negative aspect? In this class we will explore pride in all of its facets, why the Church considers it the deadliest of all sins, and how pride and self-will are intertwined and stunt our spiritual growth and lead us away instead of toward God.

Relevant Scriptures: Proverbs 6:16-19 (Proverbs 6:20-23 LXX)Proverbs 8:13Proverbs 11:2Proverbs 16:18 (16:16 LXX)Proverbs 29:23Proverbs 3:34 (3:37 LXX)James 4:61 Peter 5:5-8Isaiah 14:12-14Ezekiel 28:12-16Revelation 12:7-9Genesis 3:1-8;
Relevant Articles: True Autonomy is Achieved Through HumilitySubmission to the Will of God

Woundedness and Transformation: Encountering Christ as the Wounded Healer

The Orthodox Church teaches that out of love for us God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, left the comfort of paradise, became one of us, and shared completely in our humanity. Out of love He bore our sins, allowed Himself to be wounded beyond measure, and died to save us. We all suffer wounds and woundedness in this life. The question for us is will we bear them with love or with bitterness. Depending on our choice, our wounds can be debilitating or transformational. In this class, we will revisit the nature of woundedness and what Christ, the Gospels, and the Scriptures as a whole teach us.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: John 20:24-29, John 11:8-16; Genesis 3:15, Deuteronomy 32:39, Psalm 147:2-3 (Psalm 146:2-3 LXX), Isaiah 30:26, Job 5:17-18; Genesis 32:22-32, Luke 18:1-8, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24, Matthew 5:10-12

Relevant Articles: Understanding and Living Our Orthodox Faith: Embracing Woundedness

Evangelism and the Orthodox Church

The words evangelist, evangelical, and evangelism mean different things to different people. But what is evangelism and its place in the Orthodox Church? The Orthodox Church is a sacramental church, but is it also an evangelical church? Is the Divine Liturgy for evangelization or those who are evangelized? Are clergy the only people truly qualified to evangelize and what actually qualifies to evangelist? How do our gifts and talents fit into evangelization? We will address these question and more as we explore the all to unfamiliar topic of Orthodox evangelism.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures:
 Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1, and Mark 1:14-15Acts 5:12-16Acts 6:1-72 Timothy 4:5Ephesians 4:11Romans 12:6-81 Corinthians 12:1-13Romans 8:14,Galatians 5:16-262 Timothy 1:6-72 Timothy 3:5

Words Matter: The Experience of our Faith Through Language

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give and account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37). Commentary by several Holy Fathers on this passage shows that they took this statement by our Lord literally. If you take life expectancy stats, shave off a few years for the years before we learn to talk, take some stat about how many words men and women use a day, it easily nets out to the fact we will use hundreds of millions of words in our life time. That’s a lot of opportunity for idle and hurtful words that condemn us. In this class, using various Scriptures as a basis, we will explore the sacredness of the Word and words, how misuse and misunderstanding of words, especially those in Scripture, has led, and continues to lead, to multiple problems for us as persons and communities.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Matthew 12:36-37Matthew 15:18James 3:1-12Proverbs 18:21,Proverbs 15:4, and Ephesians 4:29John 1:1Genesis 1:1-3Proverbs 8:22-30Wisdom of Solomon 9:1Genesis 2:18-20;  Psalms 42:10 (41:11 LXX); Matthew 5:48Matthew 6:13,Luke 2:14Luke 17:20-21

Five Orthodox Words I Wish Everyone Knew

Deliver Me From Idle Words

The Natural versus Spiritual Man: The Experience of Self and the Division Within

United we stand, divided we fall. Most people think of that expression in the context of community and nation. Many feel we are in a national crisis due to the division in our country. However, this expression most readily applies to our individual selves and goes beyond any national crisis. The crisis we all suffer from is in reality a global crisis of the human heart that has plagued us from the beginning. In Sunday’s class we will explore our division within and what the Bible calls the natural/carnal versus spiritual man. We will also discuss the obvious and subtle causes of internal division, the damage internal division does to ourselves and others, and how we heal the division within and acquire the mind of Christ.

Relevant Scriptures: Genesis 25:29-34, John 6:63-64, Romans 8:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Romans 7:1-25, Galatians 3:19-29, Mark 3:20-25, John 15:1-8; Ecclesiastes 12:11-14, John 5:39-40, John 21:25; 1 Corinthians 2:13-15, Philippians 2:5-11, Romans 8:27
Relevant Articles/Blogs: The Downside of Books and the Written Word, From the Book or From the Heart

The Experience of Orthodoxy: Understanding our Faith at Its Core

We are taught that Orthodox Christianity must be lived to be learned; that it is to be experienced more than studied; that it is formational rather than informational. Yet, we live in a world which measures so much by the benchmark of intellectual knowledge and pursuit and uses rationalism above all else to understand itself. Not that these are bad or even wrong, but they can be stumbling blocks to us experiencing our faith and therefore become an obstacle to our relationship to God, especially when it comes to really embracing the truth of the sacraments and the sacramental life. In this class we are going to take a deep dive into what Orthodoxy really is, and how it is an experience of God of which language can be a poor medium to express but we will try!

Suggested Readings
Relevant ScripturesGenesis 25:29-34John 6:63-64Romans 8:1-81 Corinthians 3:1-4Ecclesiastes 12:11-14John 21:251 Corinthians 2:13-15Philippians 2:5-11,Romans 8:27;

Other Articles/Blogs: Phronema and CanonsDo You Hear God

Sin, Society, and Stillness – Getting Past Life’s “Motion Sickness” to Live as Christ Teaches Us to Live

Motion sickness. If you have ever had it to any degree you know it is one of the worst feelings in the world. Yet it’s a feeling we seem to be seeking now. Two brothers who authored a book write, “In our world of constant activity, we are suffering from a certain level of motion sickness. We go from one thing to the next and never take time to catch our breath…the first step to fixing our attention on our Creator is to be still in His presence and experience a firsthand relationship with the God who made us.” Believe it or not, there is a relationship to perpetual motion and sin in our lives. Sin means to “fall short” or “miss the mark” and our constant activity can cause us to sin, knowingly or unknowingly, by missing the opportunities God has for us. In this class, we will discuss what our faith teaches us about sin and stillness and how to deal apply its truth in today’s pace driven society.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Genesis 4:7Genesis 4:7 (LXX)1 Peter 5:81 Kings 1:11-19 andPsalms 46:1-11Hosea 6:6 and Matthew 9:13Deuteronomy 6:4-5Leviticus 19:18, andMatthew 22:37-39John 13:34, and 1 John 3James 5:19-20 and 1 Peter 4:8  

Relevant  Articles/BlogsWhy We Need Stillness and SilenceThe Need for Intentional Silence 

Experiencing the Challenge of Teaching and Preaching Christ

Who do you say I am?” Christ asks that of His disciples (Matthew 16:15) and He also asks it of us. The answer to this question determines so much in our lives here and hereafter. It determines how we live the faith in our homes and teach it to our loved ones. The answer to this question is what allows us to navigate safely and spiritually intact through the myriad belief systems existing today, or to become shipwrecked on the shores of so many “truths” that we do not know what to believe. It even determines our health and well-being. Perhaps most importantly, it determines the present and future of the Church because shockingly, many inside the Church do not believe what the Church teaches about Christ. In this Sunday’s class, we will explore our own experiences and challenges to understanding and living the truth of Christ, and what we say and do when challenged by those closest to us.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: Matthew 16:13-23Mark 3:20-27John 6:35-70John 7:10-241 Corinthians 15:12-19,
Relevant Articles/Blogs:

Jesus Christ The Universal Person,

The Full Divinity of Jesus

Experiencing the “Light and Dark Sides” of Grace

Most of us are familiar with the mythology of Star Wars and the light and dark sides of the Force. But what about the light and dark sides of grace? Does grace even have a dark side? The answer is yes and no; yes because of our limited perspective and narrow vantage point at times and no because grace is from God and therefore it is always good. This week will discuss what grace is, explore our experiences of grace that are easily identifiable as such, and also focus on our experiences where grace seemed hidden and removed and only revealed itself in retrospect and through suffering.

Suggested Readings
Relevant Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10Romans 5:1-20John 1:14-17,
Relevant Articles/Blogs: God’s Grace is Sufficient to Overcome the Thorns

Grace Changes Us

Grace Mold Us Gradually

Time and our Faith Experience

“There’s not enough time in day!” “I need more time.” “Time is running out.” “Have a great time!” “You caught me at a bad time.” “It’s just a matter of time.” “Time is of the essence.” This list of expressions and idioms about time in our culture is nearly endless. The volume of expressions shows just how much time is a dominant part of our thought and daily reality. How we understand and experience time reflects deeply our understanding and experience of God and our faith journey though we may not think about it this way. This week we will explore the notion of time and share our experiences on how it influences our relationship with #God and others, and either serves to grow our faith or undermine it.

Suggested Readings 
Relevant Scriptures: Deuteronomy 30:19Matthew 12:301 John 2:17Ecclesiastes 3:1-8Matthew 6:11Matthew 6:34James 4:13-14Philippians 4:6-72 Corinthians 6:2;Ephesians 5:15-16 , Colossians 4:5Revelation 22:12-13

Relevant Articles/Blogs: The Mystery of Time

Church and Time

Pascha and the Transcendence of Time

Experiencing God through the Bible

Do you own a Bible? Do you actually read it or does it just gather dust? If you do read it, how do you read it? Is there a right way or a wrong way? What does Christ say about the Bible? What does the Bible say about itself? Can we experience Liturgy and our Holy Tradition without knowing the Bible? Even though the meaning of the word Bible is “ the books” if it is just a book to us, we are misunderstanding what it is andits purpose. This week we will explore our corporate and individual experiences with God through the Bible and discuss the Bible’s proper place in our Sacramental journey.

Suggested Readings: Take Up and Read: The Sounding Blog

Scripture Helps Make the Foundation Solid: The Prayer Team

Reading the Bible: The Prayer Team

Relevant Scriptures: 2 Timothy 3:15-16, Acts 8:26-39, Luke 24:27 and Luke 24:44-45, John 5:39, 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 2 Peter 1:21

When God Seems Absent in Our Lives

Last week we explored what it means to encounter the Divine Presence and share our personal experiences of the presence of Christ in our lives. But what does it feel like when God seems absent from us? Is it even possible for this to be so? Many Christians, clergy and laity alike, from ancient to modern times, have described periods in their life of pain and suffering when God seemed distant and remote, or not there at all. This week we will explore this topic and share our experiences of when God seems absent and what we did (and can do) to get through these rough periods in our spiritual lives.

Suggested Readings
Matthew 27:46/Mark 15:34
Psalm 21 LXX or Psalm 22
The Dark Night of the Soul
When God Seems Absent
The Presence within the Absence. Dealing with Feeling of Abandonment

The Shared Experience of the Orthodox Christian Faith

This week’s lesson: God is everywhere present and fills all things. The Orthodox Church believes that Christ is truly present with His people in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Every Sunday, we say, hear, and understand these things to be true. But what is the extent of our personal revelation of Christ? How well do we know and experience Him as opposed knowing about Him? What is the depth of our relationship with Him? This week we are going to explore what it means to experience the Divine Presence and share our personal experiences of the presence of Christ in our lives.

We say our Orthodox Christian faith is formational yet we tend to share and teach as if it were informational. The institutional and cognitive elements have taken hold in much of Orthodoxy, and in a sense we often miss the point of faith which is relationship, and real, experiential connectedness with the Lord and each other on a visceral, pre-cognitive level. No one comes to faith informationally; we come to faith relationally. Even the information we read or hear takes hold because it gives language and expression to what we already know in our hearts is true based on our experience but often cannot articulate. Therefore, each week as it pertains to the topic, we will explore our faith by sharing and examining our personal experiences and the experience of others, and how these experiences draw us into a deeper union with Christ.


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    Michael Haldas is the author of Sacramental Living: Understanding Christianity as a Way of Life, and Echoes of Truth Christianity in the Lord of the Rings. Michael’s focus is on understanding and applying our faith to everyday living, which supports OCN’s mission to provide material “to provoke discussion and contemplation about the issues we face in daily life.” His work has been featured in Theosis Magazine, The National Herald, Pravmir, and other publications. He is a member of the Orientale Lumen Foundation and the Orthodox Speakers Bureau. He teaches adult religious education at Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda, Maryland and his classes are Live-streamed through OCN’s Facebook page each Sunday September through June. He has also worked with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Religious Education Department to create educational lessons and materials.


Michael Haldas

Michael Haldas is the author of Sacramental Living: Understanding Christianity as a Way of Life, and Echoes of Truth Christianity in the Lord of the Rings. Michael’s focus is on understanding and applying our faith to everyday living, which supports OCN’s mission to provide material “to provoke discussion and contemplation about the issues we face in daily life.” His work has been featured in Theosis Magazine, The National Herald, Pravmir, and other publications. He is a member of the Orientale Lumen Foundation and the Orthodox Speakers Bureau. He teaches adult religious education at Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda, Maryland and his classes are Live-streamed through OCN’s Facebook page each Sunday September through June. He has also worked with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Religious Education Department to create educational lessons and materials.