First, I want to say thank you to all of those who have supported us through the years and have participated in this ministry. May God bless you! I am sorry if any of you feel I have not said that enough. It is at the end of most, but not all blog entries on this blog.

Second, we will be serving meals in the park this Thursday and next Thursday, May 7, will be our last, due to lack of support from the church.

Third, I was just told to “stop playing the victim!” I am sorry, but I am not playing. I really do suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from being bullied by clergy, Orthodox, Protestant & Anabaptist. Most recently this has caused churches to be ashamed of me and this ministry, even though I have been told by two Orthodox Bishops and several Orthodox Priests to not shut up and to not give in to bullies, even if they are priests or bishops! Clergy are not infallible. We are in foreclosure again because of sickness and stresses of this ministry and the slowness of the Social Security Administration. I honestly identify with and empathize with the people on the street. I have been regularly attacked for this in the press, by city administrations, by pastors, by fellow church goers.

Jesus identified with the poor and outcast. So I still think I’m in good company. I will continue to serve as I can. I don’t know what that will look like. But I need to find more likeminded people who aren’t ashamed to be seen with me. In other words, I need someone to minister to me like I have ministered among the homeless for over 26 years.

Peace, Cranford

Writer’s Block / Depression

It’s been over a month since our 25th anniversary banquet. I have been trying to write a post about that and have made several attempts. I get to the fifth line and get stuck. It was a great evening. Rev. Bec Cranford-Smith did a great job delivering the keynote message. I know I forgot several things, which is probably a good thing, since I droned on long enough. We forgot to put out the leftover boxes for people to take extras home with them. There were plenty! I was disappointed by those who could not make it, but that did not detract at all from the joy of the company of those who did. For me personally, it was great to finally meet, in person, Bec Cranford- Smith. We had different stories of how we found each other on the web. It was obviously meant to be. We have been encouragement to each other in ministry. We have more than a name in common. We share the same zeal to serve the poor and disenfranchised; to go outside the camp to meet Jesus.

banquet1 banquet2 banquet3 banquet4 banquet5 banquet6 banquet8 banquet9 banquet10 banquet11 banquet12 banquet13 banquet15 banquet16 banquet17 banquet18 banquet19 banquet20 banquet21 banquet22 banquet23 banquet24 banquet25 banquet26 banquet27 banquet28 banquet29 banquet30 banquet31 banquet32 banquet33 banquet34 banquet35 banquet 7The last post on this blog was a nearly impossible quiz taken from the last 25 years of The King’s Jubilee. Some of the questions are light-hearted; others, not so much. I was the only one there who knew the answers to all of them. That fact is unsettling to me. Through the years, I have been on a quest, looking for the Church that Jesus established, that had authority and understood accountability. Through the years, churches kept ordaining me. I never asked for it. Let’s be real. The Episcopalian bishop ordained me to the priesthood at my infant baptism! I was ordained in absentia by proxy in a Pentecostal Holiness church I had never attended! So as I was making this journey, volunteers, friends and supporters would fall away and new ones would take their places in each different denomination. To further hinder things on the friendship and support side, I have spent most of my time and energy with inmates, ex-offenders, poor, and homeless people. So many times when I see a familiar face, I’m not sure if I met them in one of the many churches I have been to, or in one of the many prisons I have served in. If I’m looking puzzled at you, please help me out. I’ve had six or more strokes, so there are gaps in the memory. So, back on track. It is unsettling to me, because so many Christians are willing to drop you like a dead fish, if you are no longer in their denomination or parish or jurisdiction. It doesn’t matter that I have kept doing the same thing in the same way for over 25 years. It doesn’t seem to matter that we could do so much more for the poor and homeless if we had more people involved and supporting. What matters is, I left their church. They will sooner do nothing or give to secular agencies or people they don’t know at all. They will sooner give to agencies that spend a lot of money on literature and marketing and administration and overhead, because it looks like something substantial. Jesus didn’t look like anything substantial. He had “nowhere to lay his head.”

I thought I had found the church founded by Jesus Christ in the Orthodox Church. It was great under the former metropolitan and the former priest in our parish. It seemed like there was accountability and obedience and give and take in the assemblies. Then Fr. Noah came and the first thing he said to me is to put me down, even before he knew me. He felt it was his duty to humiliate parishioners. But Paul told Timothy to build up not to tear down. Then came the intentional, hurtful lies, where he lied about what Fr. Boniface supposedly said something hurtful about me to him. Fr. Boniface is my best friend in the world and he would never do that. I knew that, so this was very hurtful, in that I knew that this was cold and calculating from Fr. Noah. Then came the irrational outbursts in church over stupid little stuff. I went to the bishop. Fr. Boniface was supposed to oversee a reconciliation. It amounted to I was the one who had to suck it up. Meanwhile Fr. Noah continued to lie, continued to torment, never confessed or admitted that lying was even wrong. He said, “I can’t believe you would be upset over such a little lie.” I replied, “What upset me was just that, that you went to so much trouble to go out of your way to lie about such a little thing!” In Myron’s funeral message, he boasted that he lied to Myron to get him to the hospital when he was having a stroke. Now, instead of one of all the experiences that he could have shared that would have highlighted Myron’s good works, he chose to share this in front of our grandchildren! They came away confused. The priest just said it is OK to lie. We are Orthodox! We do not have a Jesuit ethic! If you are a true pastor, you have enough spiritual authority with your people you have no need to lie!

So Bethann wrote to Fr. Noah & Bishop Thomas. No response, except Fr. Noah quit speaking to or meeting eyes with Bethann. I emailed and called Bishop Thomas.  He did not call or email back. Instead I received a call from an archdeacon and we played phone tag for a week. Then he stopped calling back. The only thing he has said to me is, “This is not a good time to talk. Can you call me back tomorrow?” I let it sit for weeks, then I called him back again, since he never called me back. This is how the bishop handles us! I get ahold of him. He thinks he talked to me already. Nope.  He asked me what was it about, so I told him. He said he would have to check his notes when he got home, but he thought he had talked with me. I said the only thing he had said was, “This isn’t a good time. Can you call back tomorrow?” He never called back. I called Bishop Thomas and told him how his archdeacon apparently cared about as much about me and him as he cared about me. He said he wasn’t his archdeacon. I asked him one simple question: “Did you tell Fr. Noah he was not to speak to me?”

Bishop Thomas was speaking while I was asking the question, then hung up on me. This is what passes for oversight and pastoral care in the Orthodox Church.

Once again, I and my family are expendable. We don’t deserve respect or answers or to be treated civilly. We get abused and thrown under the bus. But I am not supposed to publish this. I am supposed to sit quietly by. Even though I have been told by a couple of archpriests to speak up and expose the bullies. Everything about the anti-bully  and anti-sociopath movement says to speak up and expose them. Prophet Nathan said publicly to King David, “Thou art the man!” When I came to Orthodoxy, I felt confident that I was not joining an independent Baptist church with a egomaniac, tin horn dictator for a pastor who is accountable to no one. Effectively, that is what I have found. Like anywhere in America these days, you get what you pay for in US Dollars.

What a sham! What a shame!

We were the largest family at St. Philip’s, involved in everything, at every service. Happy to be there! Arrived early, left late, because we wanted to be there. Then Fr. Put-Down came with his legalism and guilt trips and his lies and his duties and burdens and demands for honor and his manipulation. No grace. Not an inkling of understanding of the Gospel of Grace. Always speaking, never listening. Fits of rage. None of us is happy to be there any more. I can’t be near Noah without risking another stroke, literally.

We love the people. The people are gifted, kind and generous. This is what I said in the last post where I wrote about this, as well. They are being mislead.

People will give me grief about this posting. Again, I will ask you: have I stopped serving the homeless? Have I lessened the quality of the food we give away? Ask the men and women we serve! Our food is nutritionally superior to anything else they are served during the week. I wish that were not the case. Ask Brownie about how we stood by him and his friends when they were on the street, when they were in prison, when they moved off the street, when they suffered loss. We serve for you in Jesus’ Name. That is, if you support us.

If you don’t want us to continue. If you want me to shrink away and die, because of some lying priest and cowardly bishop, well so be it! I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from this mistreatment from clergy here and prior. I have kidney disease and damaged spine (with continual pain) from complications from an infection picked up from the street. This, with the stress of the attacks from Noah and Mayor Nutter (with no moral support from the church) set off complex migraines, which caused several strokes, which have left me with photophobia, occasional word salad, and a continual risk of more strokes and further damage. This all caused my business to fail. So we have no regular income. Of what we do get, almost all goes to the homeless. I’m still waiting for my hearing for SSDI. Bethann graduated top of her class from business school for medical administration and is looking for work.

Sorry this isn’t your sunshiny, hopeful, give $10 a month and you can save the world kind of post. I had to get this out of me before I could go on. People are hurting. Racism is real. There are many people who have no bootstraps by which to pull themselves up. Genocide in Gaza is real. It is brutal. It is paid for by US tax dollars. My eyes cry involuntarily 24/7. My therapist and I have talked about this. I told her I would like it to stop. We talked on a few occasions about this. She finally said to me that my crying was not irrational like most of her clients. I cry for the homeless, for genocide in Gaza, for the millions killed by US corporations polluting overseas, for the black men who police kill every 28 hours in this country, for the homeless, for the LGBT youth whose parents evict them, for the addicts who can’t get treatment, for the children forced into sex-slavery or soldiery, for the poor soldiers on all sides who are fighting for the interests of rich men, for battered women, for veterans’ wives and families trying to cope, for the lost boys of the Sudan, for Myanmar, for Iraq & Syria. Oh, to live in a world without news!

I care. I cry. I guess my tears are my unworthy form of intercession. I am not giving up! Our house is three months behind on mortgage again. I had to find a credit card we had paid off to pay to get the phones and internet back on yesterday. This Thursday will be the first time in 16 years that we will not give away dollar coins in honor of St. Nicholas on the first week of December, but we will be there with a hearty meal, God willing, to serve between 150 to 200 people, with panache!

If you want to be part of this, use the donate button or mail a check or give a call or email and see how you can get involved. If you don’t, I will move on and find a new set of friends.



I am full of life.

“Life is full of disappointments. Yes, and I am full of life,” the words to a John Gorka song, is what comes most readily to mind this week. I had to let go a house full of furniture for people because Uncle John’s truck broke down and I don’t have enough of a network of friends and supporters to call upon to get a replacement . We don’t have enough money to pay the bills, much less to rent a truck. I had hoped for The King’s Jubilee to be and to do so much more. And I had hoped to find the church of the New Testament. Somehow I thought these two goals would coalesce. Instead I find I cannot attend the Orthodox church that I moved closer to. The priest there will not talk to me. He lies, saying the bishop has ordered him not to, yet on the occasions when I do dare to go, he approaches me with saccharin sweetness as if nothing were wrong. This is a big show to discredit me in front of parishioners, after lying to me and about me and never confessing or repenting for one single offense. He is given his pulpit and I am told to shut up. He keeps oppressing the poor in the congregation and bullying any who disagree with him and the bishop stands with him, bullying us, too, by ignoring any cries for redress.

So, I guess Fr. Noah & Bishop Thomas may get what they apparently desire. I may have to shut down The King’s Jubilee. Who am I kidding? We have no church base. We have about $300/ month in pledges. It costs about $200 each week, plus we have to live. We have no income now. No one seems to care about this. There is no mutual care at the church. Someone asked me, when did Fr. Noah change his tune toward TKJ? And I looked back through correspondence. It was when I became sick and the business started to fail and we could not give as much to the church; when we became needy. This is his pattern. The money people generally don’t have serious problems with him. Of course, I’ve been told by numerous priests that he knows how to play it, because our bishops won’t make any changes until they are hit in the pocketbook. It’s all about money. I guess it is all about money. For lack of money, we will have to close or severely curtail the ministry.

Perhaps we haven’t found the true church, after all. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” I certainly haven’t seen a whole lot of good fruit in the Orthodox Church here in America: in-fighting, the priests who do serve the poor get grief from their parishes, three sociopathic priests in our area, spending more on entertainment than on mission, letting their own members become homeless faster than rescuing anonymous homeless. An older priest told me this week that “just such churches have produced many Saints.” I asked him how many atheists did they produce along the way as well. Persecution produces many Saints. Does that mean it is OK for the church to persecute, and the bishops should just sit back and do nothing? I was rebuked and unfriended by several priests for just posting James 5 without comment on-line. I was called a communist by Antiochian & OCA priests for James 5:1-9. God help us! No bishop corrects them. The lay people continue to be bullied. Ministries continue to be undermined.

I haven’t seen a whole lot of good fruit in the former USSR. Ukraine and Russia are at war with each other! Orthodox brethren! Georgia is killing and beating homosexuals & lesbians in Jesus’ Name?! Numerous border wars in the Balkans and Orthodox killing Muslims. Serbs and Romanians killing atheists. The beat goes on. Where is grace? Where is love? Where is faith? Where is God?

Jesus never said that we would recognize his disciples, and thus his church, by their genealogies and creed. He did say that we would recognize them by their love for one another (John13). Wealthy people standing next to people who are becoming homeless, without even considering altering their lifestyle to help, or not even caring enough to know their situation, is not love. This is the situation in most Orthodox churches I have seen, where the emphasis is on the service , the service, the service. Are we using the service to do what the service is for, to “prepare his people for works of service?” Orthodox theology says we go to heaven together and go to hell alone, but we all leave church alone. Churches hold so many services that there is no time left for people to visit in each other’s homes. The church is divided by class.

I have more than once been told, with a straight face, by priests, that their parishes could not afford to prevent their own people from becoming homeless. That would “overburden” them. I have been in some of their parishioner’s homes, or I should say palaces! Not an icon in sight, but repapered for the holiday season! James 5, communist indeed! People not obeying James 5 is what led to Bolshevism. “If the salt loses its flavor, wherewith shall it be salted?” Our parish let several families fall through the cracks, without an appeal, without anyone noticing, yet if someone passes out in a service, there are three to five doctors huddled around to determine whose specialty applies. They are not hard hearted people. They have lacked pastoral leadership and knowledge on this. We were on the verge of losing our homes, yet it was Uncle John & I who rescued a parishioner who was about to become homeless, after Fr. Noah and the parish council told him he had to quit selling his things in the parish hall. It was during Lent. It was the only way he had to raise gas money to get to and from church. I wasn’t there much. I happened to be there that Sunday & he pulled me aside.

He received no visits from the priest and no invitations for the holidays from anyone from church until I called the church (that I was not going to) and suggested it might be a good idea. Why did I expect them to care? My friend still did not have any money. What good was he to the church?

I don’t know if this church will produce any Saints, but I do know several atheists it has already produced out of cradle Orthodox under this priest.

So, once again, I am at a crossroads. Once again, I find myself at risk of losing many friends. I don’t feel at risk of losing much support, because there is not much to lose. I don’t know at this moment if I will have enough gas to get to and from the city tomorrow night. I get a lot of Attaboys & Aren’t you specials, but they don’t keep the car running or buy meat for the soups or veggies for the vegetarian dishes or help any of the guys with their rent when they’re a few bucks shy.

Sorry. I looked for the church for 30 years and thought I had found it. Now I find no accountability. The Orthodox parish is just like an independent Baptist church with a tin horn dictator pastor, because the bishop doesn’t feel like doing his job. I am expendable. The homeless are expendable. The Antiochian Church has basically told us to go to hell. Somehow, I think our ragtag bunch may be on our way in the Kingdom together, because I am very much in hell alone when at church. To people who have not suffered psychopathic abuse from clergy this sounds like blasphemy, but to the millions of us who have, it has the solid ring of freedom.

Once again, I am in dire need of doing some real making nice and solid fund raising, because we may not last another week. Do you people not understand? I haven’t been doing this kind of front lines ministry for nearly 30 years because I am a hireling who is just going to dance to your flute while you lie to my face and play church for a paycheck. We are not talking about fancy paintings and golden chalices. Lives are on the line, living icons of Christ! And you don’t care. You keep playing church under your gold plated dome.

Fr. Noah was told by Bishop Thomas to keep supporting The King’s Jubilee. He has done his best to remove all support from St. Philip’s for The King’s Jubilee. The church only supports local agencies (I will not call them ministries, because some of them treat the poor horribly.) where they can get credit locally, i.e., “Sound the trumpet as the Pharisees do.” He told me (through my daughter) that the bishop told him he was not allowed to speak to me. The bishop never informed me or Fr. Boniface of this bizarre instruction. (Fr. Boniface is supposed to be overseeing our reconciliation.) Yet when I go to St. Philip’s when he is there, say for a Baptism or Christmas, Noah makes a big , public show of greeting me. That is when I fail to see him on time so I don’t run. I ended up with a migraine with stroke like symptoms for three days over Christmas that started immediately when he touched my arm. Now he is either lying about what the bishop said, or he is disobeying the bishop when he is talking to me at church. He can’t have it both ways. In August, my wife wrote him an angry letter. For over a month he did not answer her or speak a word to her,  her priest! He sent Fr. Boniface to repeat his lying excuses after more than a month! And, of course, it was all my wife’s misunderstanding. Sure thing. That’s why Noah hasn’t looked her in the eye for a month.

So yes I am angry. And No I don’t like the idea of any of my family going to St. Philip’s, a place I used to love. It is ruled by a lying psychopath with no oversight from the bishop. He abuses the altar boys including his own sons. He abuses the subdeacons and deacon. He makes capricious changes in the middle of the services. He once stepped out of the altar at the height of the Liturgy to tell me that I was distracting him in the back of the choir, because I had my hands in my pockets! I told him he should get hold of himself and work on his concentration. He had to work to see me all the way back there around the iconostas and all; freaked me out.

I’ll catch hell for posting this. But, the bishop doesn’t check in. If I am to believe Fr. Noah, Bishop Thomas gave him an awful stupid order, to tell a priest to not talk to a parishioner, but just send nasty messages through his relatives and other priests? I don’t think Bishop Thomas is the sharpest tool in the shed, but I don’t think he’s that stupid. I think Noah is lying like he usually does. No one listens to me. Hardly anyone is giving to The King’s Jubilee. We used to get a good bit of support from St. Philip’s. Those people are mad at me for my attitude. They are still giving to support this psychopath, but they withdraw support to help the poor and homeless, because Noah abuses and lies about me! That makes perfect sense in a Republican sort of way. I have CPTSD because of his abuse and others like him, for which I am undergoing treatment. There is no known cure for psychopathy. A less harmful career path, which I have suggested to him would be real estate sales.

Somehow you think your withdrawal of support will bring me around to your way of thinking? If you punish the poor long enough on my account, I will see that you were right all along? Go ahead. Have your food fest. Use the public to pay for your temple! Soon you will have to raise more to pay taxes on it, too, as the public finally wakes up and remembers why the exemption was given and realizes churches don’t meet that qualification anymore. It had nothing to do with separation of church and state. It was the idea that churches provided services to the poor and needy that otherwise the state would have to provide, so a tax exemption was cheaper than providing those services. That is no longer true, by a long shot!

If I haven’t scared you off, you are definitely our kind of people. We have gone through changes before and the one constant has been our service among the poor and homeless. Please give. We don’t hold on to money and no one is getting rich. If there is ever any “extra”, it goes to fill someone else’s lack.



I prefer a dirty church.

dirtychurch

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church that is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” – Pope Francis

I have been saying this for years, and getting in trouble for saying it. I suppose he is in a position that he can get away with it.

Here is something else to think about. My mom would frequently say to us when we were growing up, “You are known by the company you keep.” Yes. Jesus is known as a “friend of sinners.”

pharisees



One Love

Actually, apart from faith in God, Jesus left nothing of the existing Jewish religious code standing except justice and good-heartedness to one’s fellows (Mt. 7:12; 19:16-19; 22:34-40; 23:23; 54:34-36). All other obligations: sacrifices in the temple (Mk. 12:32-34), prayers at fixed hours (Lk 5:33-34), ritual washings (Mk. 7:3), distinctions between permitted or forbidden foods (Mk. 7:19) and consequently, discrimination between religious (observant) and non-religious people (non-observant), had no value for him. He affirmed that the so-called “sinners” were nearer God than those who were held to be unspotted (Lk. 18:9-14); that is, he declared invalid what was properly speaking religious practice. What God values is that we be good to others (Lk. 10:30-37) and the only thing that stains a person is evil intentions, and harming one’s neighbor (Mk. 7:20-23). Jesus asked much more: it is not enough to not kill, despising is already killing (Mt. 6:21-22). To avoid false oaths is insufficient, one has to be utterly sincere (Mt. 5:33-37). Going beyond loving those who love you, you have to love and do good to those who do not love you (Mt. 5:43-45). What Jesus wants is true and sincere good-heartedness towards everyone revealed in every detail of daily life (Mt. 7:12). Jesus cares for those who seek him. He accepts invitations from the rich as well, but without concealing his message (Lk. 11:37-52; 14:1-14).
– Juan Mateos, Vatican Theologian 1917-2003

Earlier this week I added this to my “about” page on Facebook and posted it as my status, without the scripture references. Almost immediately, I was attacked by an Orthodox priestmonk and seminary professor who took this as an attack on the Liturgy. Now the author was a Vatican theologian, so he was obviously not attacking the liturgy and I pointed this out. This man continued his attacks and what he said was most disturbing to me as it indicated that he valued the Liturgy above Love. What St. Paul taught us in 1 Corinthians 13 is that the Liturgy is worthless without love. What Jesus teaches us in his vision of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25 is that the Liturgy is worthless without compassion for strangers, i.e., love for mankind. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)  A true liturgy should be all about love, and the atmosphere and the message attached to it, everything about it should equip the people to engage in lives of love for each other and for all mankind. It should never be about ethnic preservation or mere personal salvation. Then the medicine for our salvation can turn rancid and become a pickling agent to our souls.

A couple days later, I responded to yet another comment on a friend’s post, from yet another not so former evangelical who was busting on him for giving money to a beggar on the street. Why can’t we put this to rest, people? This is simple. Jesus told us to give to anyone who asks of us. Did He put qualifiers on it? Did He tell us to question their motives or morals? Was He stupid or unwise or unable to know our situation? Are we wiser than Jesus? OK, then. Just stop your stupid-enabling-psycho-babble-double-talk-which-is-just-an-excuse-for-you-to-feel-better-about-not-helping-because-that-is-what-your-greedy-self-wanted-to-do-anyway. Are you one of those hyper-Orthodox and Jesus’ word isn’t good enough for you; you need to hear it from “The Fathers”? OK, here goes:

“For if you wish to show kindness, you must not require an accounting of a person’s life, but merely correct his poverty and fill his need.”

“When you see on earth the man who has encountered the shipwreck of poverty, do not judge him, do not seek an account of his life, but free him from his misfortune.”

“Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.”

“Need alone is the poor man’s worthiness . . .
“We do not provide for the manners, but for the man.”

“We show mercy on him not because of his virtue but because of his misfortune, in order that we ourselves may receive from the Master His great mercy.”

– St. John Chrysostom, Second Sermon on Lazarus and the Rich Man


On Friday, Deacon Herman shared the documentary “Marley” with us, about the life and career of Bob Marley. There were several things that were striking about his life. While the movie did not cover why he converted to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, I can understand why he did from the interviews that were included and how he lived his life. He was a serious almsgiver. Reporters would ask him if he was rich. He would ask them if they were talking about money. Then he would say: “What is that? I have people, lots of people, brothers and sisters! Friends. Love. That is the riches!” He was making millions at the time and he knew how to make a lot of money. He also knew how to give it away.

One of his bandmates said that wherever they would go, people would come up to him and ask him for money. He would ask them what their dream was, what their plan was and listen to it, then give them enough to make it happen. He was always doing this. He started out life poor, halfcaste and in the ghetto. He never forgot those roots. He was nurtured by a Rastafari master, but he got to see Haile Selassie I and he was honest enough to realize that the man did not think of himself as Jesus Christ reincarnate, but was, in fact, Ethiopian Orthodox. Orthodoxy has a rich theology of serving the poor, almsgiving, and the hope for the unity of all mankind. Bob was already more than halfway there. Very little catechesis was needed for such a soul as he, I’m sure. His whole life had been a catechesis of sorts.

What is my point? God is love. He calls us to be godly. That means first and foremost He calls us to love! Jesus said that all of the Commandments were fulfilled by love. Juan Mateus made a case from the Scripture that the Liturgy is worthless without love. St. John Chrysostom makes the case that we are not to judge those to whom we give alms, but merely obey Christ. Finally, we see the example of Bob Marley, who did not just give token, spare change alms, but intentionally earned as much as he could, so he would have more to give away. His paying audience was mainly upper, middle class, white, young people. He redistributed in the poorer neighborhoods. He gave in such a way as to make a difference in a person’s life, so they could make a new start.

So my point is this: One Love. It all flows from One Love as Bob Marley sang. That is God. If the Liturgy is just a way for us to preserve our ethnic heritage or language. If it is just a place to squabble over whose tones are better, or to showcase our excellent chorus, or which calendar is correct, or to interrupt it to scold someone for sitting, then you have missed the point. Love does not judge. Love is not stingy and does not keep a ledger sheet. Then there is the almsgiving example of Bob Marley. If you live a life centered in love, you don’t just give your leftovers or your scraps away. You live intentionally to use your gifts to help as many people as you can to the maximum benefit; or to rescue one exceptionally needy person, however God leads; but with intention, on a path of love. You can do this directly, if you have direct contact with needy people. If you do not, then give your money to agencies such as The King’s Jubilee. We will deliver your alms for you.

“Need alone is the poor man’s worthiness”

Some words from St. John Chrysostom:

“For if you wish to show kindness, you must not require an accounting of a person’s life, but merely correct his poverty and fill his need.

“When you see on earth the man who has encountered the shipwreck of poverty, do not judge him, do not seek an account of his life, but free him from his misfortune.

“Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.

“Need alone is the poor man’s worthiness . . .
“We do not provide for the manners, but for the man.

“We show mercy on him not because of his virtue but because of his misfortune, in order that we ourselves may receive from the Master His great mercy.”

To honor Fr. Christos

ChristofidisFather Christos Christofidis is being transferred from Holy Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Elkins Park, PA to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Wilmington, DE, the end of this month. For the last few years Fr. Christos & Presvytera Joanna have led a team of cheerful volunteers to serve with us among the homeless. A couple of years ago, they took over providing all of the food for the last week of the month, with Presvy. Joanna doing the lion’s share of the preparation. We thank them for their service and their friendship. They don’t serve out of a do-gooder mentality, but out of a truly human spirit of humility and kindness. As for the food, the golden rule is observed. The guys always look forward to “Greek night.”

In Honor and Love of Father Christos from the Annunciation Bible Study Class, a $100 donation has been made to The King’s Jubilee.

To my friends who are in need

I know that I have friends who are receiving, or have applied for, or are thinking about applying for food stamps or Medicaid, or who are getting help from their parents, or from their church, or from the local food bank. For every one I know about, I’m sure there are others who are in the same position, but haven’t told me, because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. If that’s you, there’s something I want to tell you:

If you are ever tempted to think that you are doing wrong by asking for what you need, cut it out. Stop it. Repent. Jesus said that the rich were going to struggle to get into heaven. They might as well be camels, trying to get through the eye of a needle. They can’t do it, but God will make it possible. Your poverty, your need may be the thing that allows them to get through the needle’s eye, when they give to you.

And it really doesn’t matter if the giving is voluntary. I often hear people say that God doesn’t want us to be compelled to give. He wants us to give voluntarily. Well, of course that’s true. It is far better for us to give from a cheerful heart. But God will bless our gifts, and those who receive them, even if we give grudgingly.

Remember what St. Thomas did in India. He was hired by a prince to build a palace. He said he’d work on it, and he kept going back and asking for more money, and more money, and more money. Eventually, the prince wanted to see the palace, and St. Thomas showed him all the poor that he’d been feeding and housing and caring for. The prince, in fury, had him thrown in jail. And then the prince had a dream, in which one of his brothers who had already died came to him and showed him the great palace in Heaven that St. Thomas had been building for him by caring for the poor. St. Thomas had asked God to treat the gifts as if they’d been given freely by the prince, and God had honored that prayer. The prince was being saved by the gifts that St. Thomas was making to the poor on his behalf. Once the prince understood that, he freed St. Thomas and had him continue caring for the poor. But notice: God didn’t wait for him to give freely and cheerfully. God accepted the gifts that the prince gave to the poor, even when he didn’t know he was giving, even when he didn’t choose to give, and even when he would not have given if he’d had the choice.

By accepting the gifts of money and care and services from the rest of us, whether the gift is in an envelope slipped to you after church on Sunday morning, or whether it’s through food stamps or SSDI, or whatever it is, you are ministering to us. You are helping to free us from our attachment to the things of this world. You are helping us to repent ofcharli our worship of mammon. You are our guides and our help on the path to salvation.

For this, I make a metania and kiss both of your cheeks. Thank you.

~ Charli Riggle