Originally Published: December 29, 2020

Forgive me for the great chasm of time between last email and this. If you recall, we had left the Gospel according to St. Luke for now and gone back to the beginning, to the book of Genesis. By now I expect many of you will have zoomed past the first chapters of Genesis, but we're going to linger on them a little longer to ensure we gain from it an understanding of who God is, who we are in relationship to Him, and what has happened to that relationship since the Fall.

To help us on our way, I'd like you to read the following chapter from Fr. Thomas Hopko's book:

The Orthodox Faith: Spirituality, Chapter 1

Consider the following questions and feel free to write about one or more of them by replying to this email or by sending your thoughts directly to fr.daniel@protonmail.com:

  1. With sin, corruption and death entered the world. Why did God send Adam and Eve out of Paradise after their transgression?
  2. In the world, we're surrounded by different notions of "the meaning of life," from hedonistic pursuits of happiness to vague notions of being fulfilled or accomplished. For the Orthodox Christian, what is the only real life?
  3. Speaking of "the world," what are the two senses of the word that we find in Scripture and the writings of the Fathers?
  4. How were you raised to think about sin? The devil? What do you perceive are some fundamental differences between that and how the Orthodox church understands the origins of sin, its effect on us, what Christ did to save us, and the means by which we personally attain God's forgiveness?

With love in Christ,
Fr. Daniel

P.S. Finally, as promised, here is an explanation of the iconostasis. The second page contains a diagram with numbers that correspond to the numbered paragraphs. Note that the temporary iconostasis at our parish only includes the bottom-most portion, which will be corrected as we progress through construction and renovation.

Explanation and Diagram of the Iconostasis from The Incarnate God: The Feasts of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, Vol. 1