The meaning and benefits of blessing

The words “blessing” and “to bless” are used a lot in Church, and in a variety of meanings. But what is the essence of these concepts, and where do they come from? The English word “blessing” comes from the old Teutonic (Germanic) word ‘bletsian’, meaning “blood sacrifice”. But its meaning changed when it was used as the English translation of the New Testament Greek word “eulogia”, meaning “good words about something or someone”, i.e. “praises”. Continue reading

The unhappy marriage of 2 words

How two Greek words (for priest and elder) became confused and how this still affects us today. This subject is kind of controversial between Catholics and Protestants, but that is no reason to ignore it, on the contrary. The subject has often been looked at from one point of view only. This has led either to conflict or to a vulnerable kind of tolerance, namely without knowing what we actually tolerate. Continue reading

Trinity: One God, now and forever

Some years ago, Revd. Sam van Leer, who is now our Area Dean, shared a video clip with a funny cartoon about St. Patrick. Two Irish brothers ask St. Patrick to explain the Trinity to them in simple terms, because they don’t understand difficult theological language, or so they say. So St. Patrick tries several analogies to explain how God can be three Persons and yet remain One.

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The appearance of the eternal church

It was in the middle of January 2016 and the ecumenical service in the RC Bavo Basilica was over. Two people were rushing into the vestry when I was just about to leave. One of them commented on the organ intro and called it dreadful and unsuitable. The other, an altar server at the Bavo, just smiled beatifically, not knowing what to answer to this complaint. Continue reading

Signs of hope in times of trouble

No, I am not going to do it. I am not going to ask you if you are prepared for Christmas. Why not? Well, many people would instantly feel the stress coming up of all the things they still have to do, or should I say, all the things we have imposed on ourselves, whether it is preparing family dinners, writing cards or newsletters, extra choir practice, reviewing our health insurance, finishing projects at work or travelling and visiting. When we come to church, we don’t want to be reminded of that, do we? Continue reading

Fighting the right battles – spiritual warfare

“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil ….” Ephesians 6:12

Early October I was reminded of this text when several normally reliable news sources reported that the Russian Orthodox Church had declared Russia’s airstrikes on Islamic State to be a holy war. Vsevolod Chaplin, an archpriest, literally said, “The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it… This decision corresponds with international law”. Continue reading

Recovery of sight and human dignity

“I just called to say I love you”, “you are the sunshine of my life”, “ebony and ivory”, “don’t you worry ‘bout a thing”. Do you know who wrote these songs? Yes, it was of course Stevie Wonder! This American song writer and record producer was blind from infancy, probably due to an excess of oxygen in his incubator. It did not stop him from having a great career. Continue reading

The Power and Pitfalls of the Heart

The human heart is a great mystery, don’t you think so? Without it we could not be inspired to make great works of arts and heavenly music, and to love with every fibre of our being, to care for others, temporarily forgetting our own needs. But the same heart can also distrust, and hate, and destroy. Still there is a widespread belief that if you just follow your heart, you will be doing the right thing. You may still make mistakes, but you will have lived the best possible life. Continue reading