in Theology

SELC Newsletter #244

Peace to you dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Easter is at hand.  And Lent means a way, a travel for the Siberian clergymen.  We need to visit local and remote parishes and individuals to bring them the Word and the sacraments.  Distances are huge but responsibility is big.

Our Bishop Vsevolod started this Lententide with visiting the parishes in Khakassia.  The Bishop said,

“This year I had a chance to serve Ash Wednesday four times.  On Wednesday, Pastor Pavel Zayakin and I served Ash Wednesday in the parish in Abakan, on Thursday — in Tuim, on Friday — in Sayanogorsk, and then on Saturday — in Taskino.  Because there are many congregations but few pastors.  So we forget about the days of week and to serve “Wednesday” even on Saturday.

Maybe for someone it seems strange, but for our parishioners it is important — to begin Lent properly, with the rite of laying the ashes.

Of course if to look on our present reality, the words that are spoken during this rite, sound so ominous.  The pastor says to each of the parishioners, drawing ashen crosses on their foreheads: “Remember, o man, that you are dust, and to dust you will return.”

Do our people need to hear the obvious?  Do we need to once again remind everyone of the fragility of our human life?  Isn’t we do not already covered up with endless troubles, reminding us that we are weak people who are alive today, but tomorrow we can easily enter into the category of the dead?

Is anyone among us who can at least briefly forget about sufferings around us?  Is it possible that the Church doesn’t have for us any other words, softer and comforter?

But yet, we shall hear these Ash Wednesday words.  Because they are not only a reminder of who we are, but what Christ has done for us.

We sinners deserved the punishment only, but He paid for us.  His death became our life, and the instrument of execution — the cross became a sign of salvation.  That is why the ashes on our foreheads take a saving form of the cross.

Without Christ, we are only dust.  But when we partake in Christ (as He said,“he that eateth Me, he also shall live because of Me”) [John 6:57] we are saved by His life, His life flows in us, becomes our life.

God “would have all men to be saved” [1Tim. 2:4]. He wants to save us during this time of Lent and always.  We are called to leave (at least for 40 days) our briefly bustling life and thoughts of earthly things, and to come to the church to confess our sins, to hear the Word of God and to receive the Eucharist.

And when we partake of Christ, our earthly life will still be difficult, but with us and in us will be the One Who died for us to save us.”

The Bishop also visited the parishes in the Ural region, where he celebrated Saint Matthias Day with other clergymen and laymen.

And other pastors of our Siberian Church traveled a lot to visit people.  Lent means travel for us.  And generally, our life is a travel.  We are traveling from our birth and waters of baptism to our resurrection.  We will not die; we will live forever because of Christ.  Because of His travel, which He made from His own birth to the death on the cross.  All His life on this earth He traveled to Jerusalem, for us and for our salvation.  Next week we will follow the main part of His travel: we will hear how He enters the Holy City to die for us, to win over our death, to raise, to give us joyful resurrection and eternal life in His Kingdom.

We wish you a blessed Holy Week, and soon we will greet you with the Easter greetings “Christ is risen.”

“Faith and hope”

Please see attached photos.


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