Saturday, February 27, 2010

Great Lent

It's not about the food.

Wisdom from Bonhoeffer

Some helpful thoughts on Christian community from Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves.

By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusonment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: brothers, who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace? Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less than this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together - the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Never Say Never

In autumn of 1993 as DearHusband and I were preparing for marriage, his then-priest told this then-good-Lutheran that because their jurisdiction did not permit members to marry outside the faith, if we were to be married then I had to become an Orthodox catechumen (close enough, I guess.)

Not completely ignorant of church history, I knew that a catechumen is one who is preparing for entrance into the church, and I balked. While I loved DearHubandToBe and certainly wanted to be married to him, I told this priest that I had no plans to become an Orthodox Christian. He calmed me by telling me that being a catechumen means simply that I am a learner, one who has set out to learn about the faith. This seemed harmless enough as I hoped to be someone who is always seeking to learn more about the faith. But just to avoid unmet expectations down the road, I remember telling him very plainly, "Just so we are clear - I am fine with becoming a catechumen, but I will never become an Orthodox Christian."

"I'm not asking for promises," he said. "I'm only asking that you remain open to going wherever God leads you."

Fair enough.

And for the next few years, on the occasions we saw this priest, he never mentioned it again.

So today, on the anniversary of my reception into the Orthodox Church, I find myself thankful to God for many things and many people, but I remember especially today this priest, Fr. Bohdan Borody (pictured here years ago with toddler ElderSon who adored him), and am especially thankful for him, too.

And today I also remember that famous adage (not from a church father, I don't think): "Want to make God laugh? Tell him what your life is going to be like in in a few years."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Must-Serve for Cheesefare Week

This is one of our very favorite recipes for Cheesefare week! Oh, we have it occasionally at other times, too - but it's one we always try to serve during this week.

Stuffed Pasta Shells
(The recipe USED to be right on the box of pasta, but they changed that recipe long ago. So we're glad we hung on to it!)

1-12 ounce package of jumbo pasta shells, cooked.
1 jar of your favorite prepared spaghetti sauce

1-16 ounce container of ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 T. parsley flakes
1 t. seasoned salt
1/4 t. pepper

(We also thaw 1/2 package of frozen spinach, squeeze it dry, and mix in with cheese mixture).

Pour a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, and spoon filling ingredients into cooked shells. Place filled shells into the pan on top of the sauce. Pour additional spaghetti sauce (as much as you like) over the top of the shells.

Grate additional mozzarella cheese and sprinkle over the top of shells (Sprinkle additional parmesan cheese over the top, too, if you like).

Cover the pan with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until all is bubbly.

Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes and serve with (even more!) grated parmesan cheese on top.