June 20, 2012

God’s Direction

Ann Zinzel, longtime secretary at St Vladimir’s Seminary, once recounted to me that she had been admonishing students about administrative requirements, seminary rules, assignments and deadlines. The late Fr Alexander Schmemann overheard her and said, “Anya, we can’t be too hard on them, we’re sending them out into the midst of wolves.” That’s what Jesus tells the apostles they can expect to face as they care for the sheep entrusted to them by God and seek to bring the message of Christ to others. “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake”(Matt 10:22). Despite this hard prediction there has never been a time when men and women weren’t ready to come forward to serve in even the most difficult circumstances. Ministry in the midst of wolves requires some caginess, being “wise as serpents, innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16). I heard this described once as “prudent paranoia.” But this doesn’t mean we have to be anxious about planning everything we’re going to say and do, as if the results depend exclusively on our actions, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12). This connects with what Paul is teaching today in Romans, “for all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom 8:14.)

The Spirit’s practical guidance permeates the Bible. In Psalm 32, read at baptism, we say to God “Thou art a hiding place for me, thou preservest me from trouble; thou dost encompass me with deliverance” (Ps 32:7). And God says in return, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Ps 32: 8). 

Beauty in Syosset

OCA Chancery

“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all.” (Psalm 104:24)

Readers familiar with the last few years of the OCA’s history might not instinctively put the words “beauty” and “Syosset” together. For some the Chancery is still regarded with suspicion, even after several years of administrative clean up and good order. Restoring trust takes a long time after it has been broken and betrayed. Still, the beauty I’m talking about is the sheer natural loveliness of the grounds.

I came in last Saturday to catch up on paperwork and writing when no one was around.  It was so peaceful, and taking a break I went outside just to walk about the property on a sunny almost-summer day. Fridays is when Mike, our Greek Orthodox landscaper brings his crew to mow the grass and take care of the grounds. He says it’s his favorite property to work on. So on Saturday the 14 acres of lawn and woods and gardens looked wonderful.  I took a few photos that day, which can be seen here. In the past there were outdoor liturgies and picnics and parish visits, and I hope we can find ways to use these grounds much more, because such beauty deserves to be shared. Happy first day of summer!