Orthodox Holy Week, Continued.

I wish everyone I know and love could come to Holy Week. The service of the Twelve Gospel Readings is so rich. It is long and it is rigorous (3 hours) but that is the purpose of liturgy — to re-form us in the spirit of Christ, away from the World, and that takes work. A lot of it. After the reading of the 5th Gospel, the lights go nearly out. The Priest enters carrying the icon of Christ on the Cross (video can be seen here). It is a slow procession and he hymns: Continue reading


Orthodox Holy Week, the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts, Resurrection.

Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts

Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts

**Disclaimer: the views here may not reflect those of the owner of this blog; Mr Paul Burkhart**

Orthodox Holy Week falls on a different schedule. To the best of my understanding, it is mostly because we never updated our lunar calendar circa the 16th century. Orthodox Pascha can fall as late as early May, I believe. Last year, I was a Catechumen. This year, I’m a full participant. It is vastly different. Lent is a long and arduous spiritual journey of fasting, forgiveness and repentance. Including the Triodion, the march to Pascha lasts 70 days. Lent begins with Forgiveness Vespers. It is one my favorite services of the whole year. At the end of the service, the priests come out and ask each parishoners forgiveness with a prostration and a hug and kiss. Each parishioner does the same to each other. It takes time, but it is worth every second. It is magnificently beautiful and helps show us the absolute need for forgiveness and reconciliation. The Church cannot exist without it. One cannot be saved without it.
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Longing for Liturgy (a Catechumen’s reflection on Holy Week) {by David Schrott}

In recent years, and prior to my Orthodox catechesis, I heard many a Protestant writer or preacher lament that Easter was not of enormous import to most Christians when it was the eminent Christian holiday.  I didn’t share that view. Easter was an after-thought for me – another spring holiday without much real significance. Little did I know that it was the cultural liturgy of the market-place that informed my position towards the holiest of Christian celebrations.

Liturgies form us. Whether they are cultural or religious, we are moved to be formed in the image of something and in the West, the market-place is driven by the most powerful liturgy called Consumerism. Christmas is the most powerful holiday in our culture and not because of what it is or what it means; it is the most powerful because of the 30-something day cultural liturgy from Black Friday til Christmas day that forms our hearts not toward God, but towards pretty much everything else. As James K.A. Smith notes in his book Desiring the Kingdom, the Culture understands liturgical formation better than the modern church does.photo1

The Holy Orthodox Church is not the modern church.  Before I decided that Orthodoxy was the church of the Apostles, the Fathers and Christ himself, I longed for liturgy without knowing what I was longing for. I think this is the basis of the modern Evangelical root of church innovation. The Western Christian wishes to attach himself or herself to something, but doesn’t know how or have the framework for doing so; so innovation in church methods based on market research emerge. A few years ago, I’d fast all of Good Friday (and accidentally get drunk when breaking fast that night with beer and bread; Lord have mercy!) or round up friends for a Maundy Thursday dinner or try to watch the Passion movie. These were my own personal longings for connectedness to Holy Week and the larger Church; these were longings for liturgy. Little did I know that there was already a place where these connections existed and they existed nearly unchanged for most of 2000 years.
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What’s With All the Instagram Shots of Your Lunch?

“Food is everything”, says my friend Ben, an organic farmer who runs a small vegetable stand at Lancaster’s Central Market. Each generation pushes back on the one that came before it, often a reaction against cultural norms that seem to be inherently evil. One of those such current ideas comes as a blowback in how we produce and consume food. Since WWII, our food supply has been mass-produced and mass-processed, often putting in it more preservatives than nutrition. In recent years, organic farming has blossomed (in part) as a reaction against the greed, industrialization and lack of nutrition of America’s food supply. At Ben’s market stand, a small sign reads something like “out of the ground comes nutrition for our food”.

There’s certainly something deeper to this little sign whether he knows it or not.

“Man is what he eats”, writes Alexander Schmemann. All of life is sacramental, and therefore, Eucharistic. He continues, “Man must eat in order to live. He must take the world into his body and transform it into himself; into flesh and blood.” In the same way, at the celebration of the Eucharist, the very flesh and blood of Christ come to man. Man eats it and in this most revered element of Christian worship, he ascends to heaven with Christ, receives the Kingdom of God, and takes it with him back into the world. Eating is sacred business in the Christian economy and without it, the Kingdom of Heaven does not come to the world. Schmemann even goes so far as to say that all food leads us to Christ.

Meals in community are sacred. They have been for most all peoples for all time.  There is something deep within the heart of humankind that knows this. There is a longing for communion and companionship over any meal we eat. But alas, our culture does not work this way. We are hurried to and fro and are lucky to grab something at a café or in a drive thru or whatever quick meal we can get out of the way to get on with the more important things of life. But, even in our hurried state, we stop and take the time to photograph our food and post it for all to see – our new “social” community – facebook or instagram. What we miss by eating alone so often, we try to reacquire via our mobile technology. Our souls crave the sacred meal together, yet, for whatever reason we make little effort to make this a primary part of our lives. We want others to share in our experience and the best way we can get them to do that is to post our square images  of eggs in a frying pan or the coffee we got on the way to a meeting on our own little online kingdom.

Each Sunday, as we partake of the Eucharist, we ascend with Christ into his Kingdom for the good of his world. In the same way, let us strive to make our daily meals a little more sacramental; a little more Eucharistic, even.

There is No One Like You (Adv, Days 23/24; HelloGoodBye 09/10) by David Schrott [GUEST POST]

[Through college up through about a year and a half ago, I ran a little online magazine called Reform & Revive. It’s dead now. While it was going on, one of my best friends, David Schrott, was one of our contributors. He’s an amazing drywaller, photographer, writerperson, and boyfriend (also here, here, and here). This is a post he wrote for R&R back in 2009 at the end of a particularly trying year for him. It’s one of my favorite Advent meditations I’ve ever read, and so I wanted to share it with all of you. Enjoy.]


“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer.”
–I Timothy 2.8, NIV

There are these days, when it is so difficult to find words that wrap around concepts, that, no matter how concrete in one’s mind, find it impossible to find substance in the barrier we use to communicate called language. In those moments, it seems that experience does precede existence and existentialism, for a moment, seems fun (and fun is clearly the wrong word, but for to-day, for this beautiful-day-before-Advent, will have to do).
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For Advent: A Reform & Revive Repost by David Schrott

In honor of this Advent/Christmas Eve, I decided to repost an article on Reform & Revive written almost exactly a year ago by my good friend (and incredible photographer) David Schrott.  He is an amazing writer (and here) and an even more amazing friend.  This article reflects much on the year that brought the writing into existence with anticipation for the year to come.  Well, having been with him and watching him for that year, it was an amazing moment for me to read this and see all that has been done in his life.

The article has all that Advent is about.  It’s a reflection on the work of God in the past to build your anticipation for the work of God to come.  May this article stir you, sober you, and give you a sense of both the fallenness of the world that is and the glory of the world to come.  Here’s the full link:


Also, feel free to check out an article I wrote for Going To Seminary magazine for Advent called “The Beauty of Theology (an Advent Call)”

Lastly, if you’re in town (Philly, that is), my church Liberti: South Philly is doing what should be a beautiful Christmas Eve service tonight (details).

Merry Christmas Eve

“bright as yellow” by David Schrott | Reform & Revive

One of my best friends and favorite writers (and photographers), David Schrott has finally broken his writer’s block to write another gem for the magazine.  So head on over to Reform & Revive and enjoy his prose and honesty.
Here’s the link to the article:


Remember to leave comments and send this link along to others!  Also remember that we’re always looking for submissions to the site so feel free to get in touch with me if you have any ideas.