Today is Metropolitan Jonah’s Name Day (the life of St Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow, can be read here.)
New Life and New Wineskins
“How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:2). Today’s epistle reading ends with this verse that leads us into St Paul’s beautiful and profound reflection read at baptisms (Rom 6:3-11). If we were baptized as children, then as adults we sooner or later need to come to terms with the meaning of our baptism. The symbolic action of “being buried” under the water presupposes that we are voluntarily demonstrating our willingness to die—really die, not just symbolically—to the sins of our old way of life. And not just die to the bad things we’re ashamed of, but to our selves, even our best selves, in order to take up a new life patterned on Christ and His will. Once I came up out of the baptismal water, I am showing that “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
“New wine is for new wineskins” (Mt 9:17). The gospels were written at a time of tension in the early church between the traditional (Jewish) and new (Gentile) Christians. Even among Jewish Christians there were tensions between those who grew up in a largely Hebrew-speaking environment (“Hebrews”) and those who grew up in the Greek-speaking diaspora (“Hellenists”). As Jews these groups had their own separate synagogues, but as Christians they came together (at least initially) and all did not go well (see Acts 6.) The gospels reflect some of this background simmering conflict. The point of what Jesus is saying is that the new community of His followers would need to have its own space to mature, without the constant pressure to rebel against or conform to the old ways. Paul faced this issue constantly, especially in Galatia, where the pull of the old ways of rigorous Judaism was especially attractive to Gentile converts and began to seriously undermine the universality of Paul’s gospel message.
A Chancellor’s Day
On several occasions recently I’ve been asked innocently, “So, what does a chancellor do?” The job is so varied that I don’t have a snappy answer. But here’s a snapshot of a typical office-day this past week, although much of this sounds pretty vague given the need for confidentiality.
- Email conversation with His Beatitude about a scheduled meeting and his trip to the UK
- Email conversation with another bishop regarding a possible parish opening
- Brief email discussion with communications team regarding the Metropolitan’s schedule and stories on the website
- Reviewed files on several misconduct cases; consulted with bishop, lawyer, canonist and the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC), wrote responses to queries
- Conversation with another bishop concerning clergy matters
- Met with Fr Eric Tosi and discussed progress on various issues, including the Metropolitan Council’s task force looking different the work appropriate to different levels of OCA life, particularly central church administration and dioceses
- Discussions about the search for candidates to fill advertised positions
- Conversations with candidates inquiring about positions
- Conversations with clergy who called on various matters
- Spoke with a bishop and Fr Leonid Kishkovsky on a few issues regarding relations with other Orthodox churches
- Wrote column for Chancellor’s Diary
I hope you have a blessed Sunday of North American Saints (and happy Fathers’ Day to all you fathers, grandfathers and godfathers).