…His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
Over the last year and a half or so I’ve been reflecting very briefly, when time permits, on the daily readings from the Orthodox lectionary. Now I’d like to do the same with the Psalms, as much for my own benefit as for anyone else. The Eastern Orthodox liturgical tradition is built around the Psalms, more specifically the ancient Greek translation of the Psalms included in the Septuagint version of the Bible. This often differs from modern translations based on Hebrew texts, but the fact is that even in the first century various versions and translations of the Psalms were in circulation. This is evident in the New Testament itself. There is much scholarly debate about the relative merit of ancient texts and translations, and I won’t get into that here. A wide variety of translations of the Psalms in English—including a few Septuagint translations—are available in print and online. Since Seminary days I’ve used the Revised Standard Version and will use that here, though will have many occasions to refer to other versions as well. You can see for yourself the huge range at www.biblegateway.com.
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In Ottawa for a time my family lived in house next to a river. A huge willow tree grew on the bank, and its roots stretched deep and unseen into the water. It had been there for decades. The ninety-year-old mother of our neighbor remembered when she planted it, back in the 1950’s. Every year it was battered by the surging spring runoff as massive chunks of ice from the break-up smashed into it. The lower trunk was full of dents. But it kept growing and putting out new leaves. This is the image in Psalm 1 of the person who is blessed. Rooted secretly in an unseen inner life with God, who nourishes and strengthens the soul and keeps it growing and alive.
Yesterday was the start of two days of informal conversations at the Chancery between bishops and representatives from the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and a group representing the Orthodox Church in America, led by Metropolitan Tikhon and Bishop Mark. Conversations have been going on for the past three years at the initiative of Father Chad Hatfield of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, but this is the first occasion for a visit to the Chancery. The aim of the conversations at this stage is simply to get to know each other and see what might be possible avenues of cooperation in future. Archbishop Robert Duncan is the head of ACNA, which has some forty bishops, thirty dioceses and about a thousand parishes across the US, Canada and Mexico.
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I have to mention with gratitude the 50th wedding anniversary celebration last Sunday of Dr Constantine and Arlene Kallaur. They attend Holy Trinity Church in East Meadow, NY and have been faithful supporters and OCA church workers in many, many capacities all their lives. Indeed, Dr Kallaur was in the OCA delegation sent to Moscow to receive the Tomos of Autocephaly in 1970 (Father Daniel Hubiak was also at the celebration with his wife Dunya; he too was in that delegation.) And Arlene just recently was heavily involved in planning the successful Parish Ministries conference on Christian life and service that took place earlier this summer in Washington, DC. It was inspiring to see them with their children, grandchildren and many old friends. So much joy and love. I couldn’t help thinking of Psalm 1, “…a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” May God grant them many blessed years.