January 2008

Fr. Antony PortraitDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

If anyone should ask,
"How did Jesus raise the dead?"
Kiss me on the lips and say
"Like this."
     - Rumi

When I read this beautiful poem from the great Sufi mystic it moved me deeply. The imagery is unabashedly passionate, even erotic, but for Orthodox Christians this is not at all shocking. We believe that the love between God and his creation is most intimate. The works of Orthodox mystics often reads like love poetry.

A young man from Siberia sent me a Canon written by an Orthodox priest with whom he was acquainted. It was based on Solomon's "Song of Songs", a work so erotically charged that young Jewish men were not permitted to read it. The first verse read something like this, "How long, O Lord, must we hear the words of prophets when what we long for are the kisses of your mouth?" St. Paul does not shy away from describing the Kingdom as a "bridal chamber."

Orthodox theology is shot through with eros. This is how we interpret the Incarnation. God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to "tabernacle" among us. His Name is Emmanuel meaning "God with us." Every action, every word, every miracle, ever parable of the Savior is meant to direct us to the source of love by revealing that God is this source. The more we come to know him and belief is transfigured into faith, the more we come to experience the joy there is in opening our hearts and minds to the truth that God is love, the energy that animates and sustains all things, at all times. He is "everywhere present, filling all things."

The Great Feast of Theophany continues the theme as we see the Holy Spirit blessing and sanctifying water and along with it all creation At the same time the Holy Trinity reveals Himself, the mystery of mysteries, to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The Divine Lover reveals himself to his beloved. What joy! The beloved is us!

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Antony