Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sixth Day of Christmas

This morning was the memorial service for my Dad. Afterwards I came home and slept the rest of the day. Terrible headache.

This eveing my wife, the boys, and I sang carols.

The Feast So Far

So far, this has been a very fun Nativity Feast.

Day 1
Of course, it started the night before with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil at St. Stephen's where we heard St. John’s Nativity Homily. No better way to begin the feast. It was also our first time to have Communion in our new Parish. After getting home about half past midnight we went to bed. Woke up in the morning did morning prayers and then opened presents. (I received bic pens, socks, and underwear.) While I went out looking for wreathes, trees, and holly being thrown away (one of the advantages of waiting until Christmas to decorate for Christmas) Cyndi cooked a fabulous breakfast of thick cut baccon, eggs, and toasted panettone.
Then as Anselm and I listened to Christmas music and decorated the house, Cyndi cooked HAM!!! We took much of the 40lb. Ham to my sisters house where my mother, two of my siblings, and some friends celebrated. (I thought I would try to save some money and bring Piper Sonoma champagne (notice that I am not linking to them.) instead of my usual Chandon Blanc de Noirs or Agrapart & Fils Blanc de Blancs. Big mistake. Can you say hideous bitter aftertaste? Yuck!)
Delivered cookies to the neighbors.
Read children’s Christmas books.

Day 2
Panettone for Breakfast!!!!
Hosted a gingerbread man party for my nieces. Super fabulous fun. My mother was in attendance.
Ham for lunch and dinner!!!
Read the children’s book “Stephen’s Feast” to my nieces and sons. Much Fun!!!
My nephew and I acted out the song Good King Wenceslas. Much Fun!!!
Vesperal Liturgy for the Feast of St. Stephen at St. Stephen's.

Day 3
Panettone for Breakfast!!!!
Did a little Christmas present shopping.
Read children’s Christmas books.

Day 4
Panettone for Breakfast!!!!
Rearranged some furniture.
Nothing too exciting except my beautiful and talented wife made these amazing little cookies filled with apricot jam and raisins. YUM!!!
Dinner: hearty HAM and lintel soup!!!!

Day 5
Breakfast: oatmeal with BUTTER!!!!! YUM!!!!
We went for a walk around Stowe Lake, ate HAM !!!! sandwiches, returned some children’s Christmas books to the library.
Mailed some Christmas presents.
Dinner: HAM and lentil soup!!!!
Wrote and printed the Christmas letter.
Watched the best movie version ever made of “A Christsmas Carol” on DVD (No. I do not have a television machine. We watched it on the computer.)
Watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas on DVD
Watched the National Geographic Christmas special, “Animal Holiday” on DVD.

Regarding Childrens Christmas Books: Of the three or four dozen we have read these are the best (in no particular order):
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Warning: tear jerker)
The Tale of the Three Trees (Warning: tear jerker)
Stephen's Feast
I Saw Three Ships (Warning: tear jerker)
HARK! (this book is illustrated by Tomie dePaola, perhaps the best writer/illustrator there is of books for Orthodox and Roman Catholic children.
The Story of the Three Wise Kings (written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I just finished writing something for my Dad's Memorial Service

I'm not sure how this service will go. What I understand from overhearing my eldest brother and mother talking is that the Bishops from California will say something, then my Dad's pastor will give a sermon, then family members will speak. I don't know what will happen after that.

Anyway, here is what I will be saying.


The Pentecostal Church of God, the denomination in which my father served has as it’s motto "Proclaiming Bible Truth in Pentecostal Power". Miracles, speaking in tongues, prophecy – those are the hallmarks of the pentecostal movement. And his life, from infancy on was accompanied by miracles of both the providential and the wondrous varieties. From the time he was 17, when a deacon from his local Assemblies of God church literally chased him out of the house through a bedroom window to see him converted, it was clear that the hand of God rested on him. He was only a Christian for a few days or weeks when he was called to preach.

His first sermon was a horrible flop - before he had reached his second point he left the pulpit in shame - but the Holy Spirit does not need people to be effective. He just wants people to be faithful and He'll take care of effective. So while my Dad was kneeling in embarrassment at a chair on the platform, the Holy Spirit moved. The pastor of the church went over to my Dad and said, "Brother Karnes, look at this." and when my Dad lifted his head he saw the front of the little church filled with people weeping and repenting of their sins. Even the pastor's own backslidden son was brought to repentence by my Dad's first sermon.

And there were other miracles. There was a visit by an angel during a time of uncertainty. And, once, when my parents had lived for weeks on beans and had and asked God to provide meat, God heard their prayer and did as they asked. As if repeating the miracle of the quail in the wilderness, God sent a duck to land in their front yard. And, of course, my Dad he spoke in tongues, and prophecied , and sometimes people were healed when he prayed for them. But I don't remember those gifts being exercised very often by my Dad. The greatest miracle of all, the most important miracle of all, the one that absolutely and always depends on "Proclaiming Truth in Pentecostal Power" was repeated many times during the course of my Dad’s ministry. Of course, I am talking about the miracle of turning a hard heart soft, of saving faith welling up in a soul, and a sinner repenting of his sins . That miracle I saw many times.

But no miracle saved my Dad. His tongue is dry and silent. There is no prophecy coming out of his mouth now. But we are not surprised. Even Lazarus died again many years after Jesus raised him from the dead. (If you wish, you can visit his tomb today on the Isle of Cyprus.) St. Paul said it would be this way. "…whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease". That sounds pretty final. It seems that there is no Pentecostal Power residing in my Dad's body any longer. So I have to set aside the "Pentecostal Power" part of that motto; it seems to have ceased, and for hope I have to cling to the other part of that motto, "The Bible Truth" part.

His denomination’s Statement of Faith proclaims that Jesus will return "to resurrect the righteous dead". That is how his denomination proclaims the Bible Truth. It is not an uncommon belief. There are about 1 1/2 Billion Christians in the world who belive the same thing. It is what all Christians everywhere and always have believed. One of the creeds of the early Church puts it this way: "I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

So, like all Chrstians everywhere and at all times the ressurection of the dead is what my Dad proclaimed. It is what my Dad believes. Just a few nights before he died, two days before I even knew he was dying, I remembered him in a dream. I was a little boy and he was here on this platform preaching out of the book of Job. "For I know [that] my redeemer liveth, and [that] he shall stand at the latter [day] upon the earth: And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body], yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me."

That is the Bible Truth. But it should not be surprising to us that the Bible would lead us back into that Pentecostal Power: For the Holy Spirit, with whom we seek to be filled is also called "the Spirit of Truth". And being filled with the Spirit is the most important thing in the world. It is our ultimate concern. And not because of tongues, or healing, or prophecy. Those things are useful, but not to my Dad. Not now. Worms are eating his body. His tongue isn't moving right now. He can't lay hands on anyone right now. But the Spirit isn't finished with him.

St. Paul is emphatic when he tells us "if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." That is the "Pentecostal Power" and the "Bible Truth" most important to my Dad, the "Pentecostal Power" and "Bible Truth" that is, ultimately, most important to us all.

My Dad’s body has been a temple of the Spirit of Life for about 63 years. Since he was 17 his body has been graced by the presence of God and it is precious to the One who made it. My Dad’s body, now in a grave, is so precious that God took flesh from a woman and suffered death, that my Dad’s body might live forever. So though it is buried in the earth, a testimony to our first father’s sin, and eventually, will be forgotten by men, God sees it. God will remember it. God does not forget his temples. And in the latter day the Wind will blow through that grave. Dry bones will be put back together, skin eaten by worms will be made new, and my Dad’s own blue eyes will see his Redeemer. That is "Bible Truth". That is "Pentecostal Power".

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Homily on the Nativity of the Lord
by St John Chrysostom

I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.

The Angels sing!The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised. Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side the Sun of Justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God.

This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.
And behold,Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;
And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.

Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ. For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing: Glory to God in the Highest;and with the shepherds: and on earth peace to men of good will.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

We are close now.

"Shorn, however, as it is, of its ancient and festive honours, Christmas is still a period of delightful excitement in England. It is gratifying to see that home feeling completely aroused which holds so powerful a place in every English bosom. The preparations making on every side for the social board that is again to unite friends and kindred ; the presents of good cheer passing and repassing, those tokens of regard, and quickners of of kind feelings ; the evergreens distributed about houses and churches, emblems of peace and gladness ; all these have the most pleasing effect in producing fond associations, and kindling benevolent sympathies. Even the sound of the Waits , rude as may be their minstrelsy, breaks upon the mid-watches of a winter night with the effect of perfect harmony. As I have been awakened by them in the still and solemn hour, "when deep sleep falleth upon man," I have listened with hushed delight, and, connecting them with the sacred and joyous occasion, have almost fancied them into another celestial choir, announcing peace and good-will to mankind."

Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall – By Washington Irving

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fruited Molasses Balls

Every Christmas of my childhood was spent to the south east of Visalia, out in the middle of miles and miles or orchards. That is where my Aunt Nettie and Uncle Fred live. The highlight of every Christmas was eating dozens and sometimes scores of Aunt Nettie's fruited molasses balls. For me, Christmas isn't Christmas without them. (You might think I'm shallow, but you haven't tasted them yet.) The recipe is below. I hope you make some and share them with the people you love.

Matt's Aunt Nettie's Fruited Molasses Balls

1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup molassas
1 stick soft butter
2 large eggs
2 cups flower
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup raisins
24 oz. chopped dates
2 cups chopped nuts (I use pecans AND walnuts)

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs
Stir in the in the molassas
Add dry ingredients
Stir until no white flower is visible.

Pour dough into greased baking pan, bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes
Cool a little bit, but while still hot (this hurts, but what act of love doesn't?) pick up some of the dough (you've buttered your hands haven't you?) and roll it into a ball about 1.5 inches in diameter. Let cool.
Sprinkle w/ powdered sugar.

Recipe can be doubled but you'll need a very large mixing bowl.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lousy memory

I've been gone for over a year. There is a buch of stuff I need to change on this blog. Unfortunately I dont remember how. I was able to delete a bunch of stuff on the sidebar that is no longer current, such as the count down clock to the baby's birth. But there is other stuff I want to change but can't remember how. That's life.

Tip of the week. Let's say you are a huge fan of Luis Prima (Ever since you heard him sing "I want to be like you" in Disney's Jungle Book) but you've worn out all your Louis Prima CDs and want to hear music by other people who sound like the master jump jiver from the Big Easy. That is where Pandora comes in handy. I won't go into detail but they have a totally (fully?) amazing system for finding you the music you like. It comes in two versions: Free and Pay. Free is awsome. Haven't tried Pay.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm Back

Well, much has happened since my last post. Here are the biggies (in chronological order):
1- My wife gave birth to another son, Basil Wenceslas
2- My wife took a job at Stanford
3-I quit my job to be a stay at home dad
4- We moved.
5- My priest died.
6- My wife began working on an M.P.A. degree here.
7- Anselm (formerly known as "the little boy" took soccer lessons.
8- We changed parishes from here to here.
9-My Dad died (the memorial service is in a few days.)
10 - I completed my theological studies here (yesterday) and now am just waiting for the sheepskin to arrive in the mail.

I don't know how much I will be posting. I am much busier now than I used to be. We'l just see how it goes.