N.W.BOYER…Christian Author

Religious Faith

Beautiful Gregorian Music

Durham-Cathedral

Durham Cathedral in England

“The Gregorian chant is the oldest musical manifestation of the Occident (countries of Europe and Americas) and it has its roots in the songs of the old synagogues, since Jesus Christ`s times. 
The first Christians and disciples of Christ, were converted Jews who, persevering in prayer, continued to sing the psalms and songs of the Old Testament.  As the Greeks, not Jews or Romans,  were also becoming Christian, elements of the music and the Greek-French-Roman culture were being included to the Jewish songs. “

As the birds have been singing outside my window this Spring, I enjoyed hearing God’s little creatures sing along with this peaceful Gregorian Chant.    For your listening pleasure …for peace and joy!

 

 Illumination-Peaceful Gregorian Chants– Dan Gibson’s Solitude

VIDEO  (Turn up the sound. There is a slight delay in the opening…so give it a moment. )


New Devotional Book with Photography and St. Paul’s Words

 

Devotional Life of St Paul jpeg2

After a trip to Greece this year to follow the “Footsteps of St. Paul”, the inspiration came to share my photography and words of Holy Scripture that St. Paul spoke to the early churches.  He and the men and women during the years of spreading the Gospel through missionary journeys suffered greatly the persecution that eventually led to his beheading in Rome.  Because of them, we have the writings of the Holy Scriptures today of the good news of the Christian faith.

Follow with me now some of his words to the Jews in the Synagogues, the faithful in the churches and to us, the modern day church.  I have included archeological finds and ruins as well as the amazing monasteries of Meteora.

This devotional is now available on Amazon in paperback and e-Book form.

Click here to view new devotional book

All books written by N.W.Boyer for adults and children (click on each book for more info)

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CHRIST IS RISEN!

risen Christ

 

HE IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED.

2019 has been a year of great sadness around the world with disasters, wars, people fleeing oppression and other events:  the burning of one of the world’s great Christian cathedrals and the deliberate burning of black churches in the U.S.  Our soldiers still serve and die on foreign fields. There are a great many things to be concerned about in our world.

Nevertheless, we turn our hearts this Easter Sunday to the Great Hope for the world in the resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. On this Easter, we rejoice in the glorious hope for through His giving of Himself that we may be saved and the looking for His return to the world.

The grave could not hold Him.  Hallelujah!

Blessing to all Boyer Writes readers!  N.W.Boyer

(VIDEO: Turn up the sound)   Hallelujah Chorus

 


A Visiting Professor’s Observation

statue of liberty

It is interesting how someone can come to the United States and have a completely different perspective on the word “democracy.”  We, who live here, become used to how things work in our free society.  The thoughts of a foreign visitor, who is used to a much different society,  brings a new dimension to the very meaning of the word…democracy.  We ask the question then…

“How much does religious freedom play as an encompassing part of democracy?”

 A visiting Chinese professor may have great words of wisdom concerning this matter. Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School, found friendship with this visitor, who was on a Fulbright Scholarship to the United States, and shares with us his words.   Pay close attention to his final statement.  It is quite chilling.

Short Video:  Please turn up your sound and click the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_p opup?v=YjntXYDPw44&sns=em 


A Christmas After Thought

Christmas has come and gone, but a wonderful blogger friend of mine in England sent me a post about the choir that sang of the birth of our Lord Jesus at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Stephen Liddell, author and tour guide,  is a blogger with over 3,000 followers.  He waited in line for two hours to get into St. Paul’s to hear the King’s College Choir of Cambridge.   He said that it was “well worth it.” 

Christmas may be over, but I just had to share this same song from a previous year.  Our prayers for the New Year should be that the message of “Oh Holy Night” and the Savior who came will help our world to be more peaceful in the year to come.

Video:    (If the video shows unavailable, click “Watch on YouTube” link given.)

Happy New Year to all

 


Christmas Day…and the Reindeer

Christmas Eve was silent as a baby was born in the manger.  He was wrapped carefully by his mother, Mary, in faraway Bethlehem.   Here in the United States and around the world, many families go to church on Christmas Eve to sing “Silent Night” and to remember this special event.

Afterward, parents tucked their children safely in bed…hoping they would go to sleep… as they wait for a special visit from Santa Claus.  The stockings are hung and the presents are hidden under the tree.
christmas-tree-near-fireplace_0

 

Santa must be very tired when all is said and done. Guiding his sleigh around the world on Christmas Eve was no easy job.  What every Santa needs on Christmas is to find some peace and rest.  Here on earth, the presents he brought have been unwrapped. The aromas from the stoves cooking Christmas dinner drift around the houses of the neighborhoods. We know the elves have closed up shop, but it leads us to wonder about something else.

“When Santa finished driving his sleigh to the homes of all the good little boys and girls around the world, what did he do with the reindeer? 

On Christmas Day,  Santa let his reindeer have some fun.  He took them to the races!

What races?   The reindeer races in Lapland and Finland, of course.  Want to see?

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR READERS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Countdown to Christmas…Day 4

IMG_0992

A real birth…a real Child born of a Virgin…a real Savior of the world.

Music video and dramatization   Turn up sound   (Josh Groban)

 


The Joy of Christmas Music

christmas_decorationYou may be decorating your house…cooking some beautiful loaves of nut bread for the neighbors or just relaxing.    Once Thanksgiving is passed, we go out to find the best frasier fir tree we can find and the decorating begins.  It is a great time when we pull out the ornaments that we’ve collected over the years…hang the Moravian Star on the front porch and enjoy the lights of the neighborhood that are beginning to shine.

Nancy DD and Gracie at Christmas

A Christmas with sweet DD and Gracie

Whatever you’re doing, simply listen to the joy of Christmas music.  It’s guaranteed to get you in the spirit of the season.   Enjoy!

 


Icons…Lesser Known in Modern-Day Faith

Only the students of religious history may be aware of how much icons play a part in the worship of Christians now and in the past.    Some faiths, such as more contemporary Christian groups, previous leaders of various churches and those of the Muslim faith have either condemned outright pictures of these great men and women of faith or believe that religious paintings are not necessary for worship today.  The reason for opposition to the use of icons was mainly that they did not want them to become an object of worship. That would often include statues of the saints and  Jesus Christ. Making them any type of idol was not the purpose intended even though it had its many critics then and now.

Oldest surviving icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on Panel 6th century at St. Catherine's Monastery Mt Sinai, Egpt

The oldest surviving icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c. 6th century (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt).

Either way, I found that these works of art had great meaning throughout history.  Sometimes it was the only way a person, who perhaps could not read or was not allowed to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures, was able to think of and be reminded to pray in their everyday devotions outside of the actual church.

Some interesting facts and pictures:  (from Wikipedia)

  • Christian tradition dating from the 8th century identifies Luke the Evangelist as the first icon painter.
  • At least some of the hierarchy of the Christian churches still strictly opposed icons in the early 4th century. At the Spanish non-ecumenical Synod of Elvira, (c. 305) bishops concluded, “Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration”. 

After adoption of Christianity as the only permissible Roman state religion under Theodosius I, Christian art began to change not only in quality and sophistication, but also in nature. This was in no small part due to Christians being free for the first time to express their faith openly without persecution from the state, in addition to the faith spreading to the non-poor segments of society. Paintings of martyrs and their feats began to appear, and early writers commented on their lifelike effect…

The Annunciation icon in Macedonia

A key piece of Palaiologan Mannerism – the Annunciation icon from Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia.

 

Icons can be found in private homes, in churches to remember martyrs, as seen in the pictures below.  They also could be made from different materials as in the one made of metal.

 

 

Some icons were so special that they were decorated with precious jewels.

elaborate Russian icon Jo of All Who Sorrow 1862

Russian icon “Joy of All Who Sorrow” 1862

 

This past week I have been privileged to find out the difficulty in which actually making an icon can be as I was taught how to enjoy painting and praying while working on a special design.   Kara Nelson visited St. James Episcopal Church in Florida to share this knowledge with those interested.  Being an artist with my own style, I decided to see exactly how much talent this would take.  Because all of my own artistic endeavors have been of a freestyle, I was somewhat amazed at the detailed work involved in painting an icon of the Good Shepherd, who is Christ my Lord.

First, in our week-long retreat,  we had Holy Communion with Father Tom Trees and my husband, Fr. Bill Boyer,  and then shared our own walk of faith and concerns.  After instructions by Kara of the steps to be taken, we began to draw a design, which was to be our own painted icon when finished.  (shown in slides below)

 

 

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I chose to paint The Good Shepherd, which called for layers upon layers of paint.  Kara kept telling us that the first layers would look rough and not to be discouraged because as we progressed, the painting would improve.  Miraculously, she was right…as seen in my rough draft.

process in painting the Good Shepherd

Rough beginning of the icon: My lamb is unpainted and the orange color will eventually be filled in with real gold leaf.  See finished icon below.

 

 

Finished Good Shepherd icon 2018

 

the Good Shepherd and the Madanna and Child icons

Madonna and Child and Good Shepherd painted by Kara Nelson. Students in the class had a choice to paint either icon.

 

What have I learned about painting icons?   A great deal.  It is difficult work.  Nevertheless, the act of doing this painting represents the love of a Christian for the Savior, Christ Jesus, and the stories of the saints who have gone before…many of whom were martyrs.

Just as the first Christians and monks who wrote the Holy Scriptures by hand, the painters of Icons showed a similar dedication.    In a world of turmoil, the joy of knowing that Christ’s love has transcended throughout the centuries through this beautiful art form is indeed inspiring. After finishing our icons, we placed them on the altar for dedication and prayed that God would use these as a special blessing for whomever we had made them.

Fr. Tom blesses icons

Fr. Tom Trees prays for a blessing on each icon made by individuals in the group at St. James Episcopal in Leesburg, FL

Take special notice in churches and cathedrals that you may visit throughout the world of these beautiful icons.  Museums may also have special rooms to display the art of dedicated Christian believers.  Look at the details, imagine the hand that painted it and the stories behind the lives.  Show them to a child that may be with you and retell the Bible story that each may represent.  Many a young person may not even know what the word “icon” means. We must not lose the appreciation of this great art form and those who painted them.     To God be the Glory.  Amen

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev 1410

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev 1410   

12 century icon Archangel Gabriel called Golden Locked Angel in State Russian Museum

12th Century Archangel Gabriel in Russian State Museum

For information on Icon Painting Workshop/Spiritual Retreat

Contact Kara Nelson at karanelson314@gmail.com

 

 


Michaelangelo and the Sistine Chapel

 The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.  (Michaelangelo)

Michaelangelo

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti

We as parents often think we know what is best for our children.  In one case in history, the parent had it all wrong.   Michelangelo’s father did not want him to become an artist. To be an artist was considered below his social class. ( Born March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Republic of Florence, Italy  and died February 18, 1564 in Rome.)

Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then, he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.

Pieta by Michelangelo 1499 St Peters Basilica Rom

The Pieta by Michaelangelo

 

The frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican are probably the best known.  Michelangelo became an art apprentice relatively late, at 13, perhaps after overcoming his father’s objections. He was apprenticed to the city’s most prominent painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio, for a three-year term, but he left after one year, having nothing more to learn…In 1504 he agreed to paint a huge fresco for the Sala del Gran Consiglio of the Florence city hall to form a pair with another just begun by Leonardo da Vinci. Both murals recorded military victories by the city (Michelangelo’s was the Battle of Cascina), but each also gave testimony to the special skills of the city’s much-vaunted artists…Pope Julius II call to Michelangelo to come to Rome spelled an end to both of these Florentine projects. The pope sought a tomb for which Michelangelo was to carve 40 large statues… Pope Julius had an ambitious imagination, parallel to Michelangelo’s, but because of other projects, such as the new building of St. Peter’s and his military campaigns, he evidently became disturbed soon by the cost. Michelangelo believed that Bramanti, the equally prestigious architect at St. Peter’s, had influenced the pope to cut off his funds. He left Rome, but the pope brought pressure on the city authorities of Florence to send him back. He was put to work on a colossal bronze statue of the pope in his newly conquered city of Bologna (which the citizens pulled down soon after when they drove the papal army out) and then on the less expensive project of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508–12).”   (Credit Encyclopedia Brittanica by Creighton Gilbert)

ceinling of Sistine Chapel in Rom

Detail of a ceiling fresco by Michelangelo, 1508–12; in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City by David Bleja/Fotolia

The Sistine Chapel:  From 1508-1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a series of frescoes that portrayed several biblical stories. Perhaps the most famous image from the ceiling is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving life to the first human, Adam.  (Wikipedia)

Creation of Adam in Sistine Chapel

Creation of Adam on Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michaelangelo

Click here: This is an interactive link to the Sistine Chapel.  A must see.  Move your mouse around all over the chapel to view all walls and the famous ceiling by Michaelangelo. 

After viewing the chapel, click your back arrow to see the VIDEO below.  (turn up sound)

 


N.W. BOYER looks forward to a NEW BOOK

Today is a good day!  I am looking forward to a new book to hold in my hands and share with others.  Over a year ago, my husband, a retired Navy Chaplain, and I started interviewing our American veterans in the Blue Ridge mountains for a new book called,  Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge.  This week I sent it to the publishers.  We are excited to share this news with our readers. Stay tuned for a special availability announcement of the book hopefully in the next couple weeks on Amazon.Men and Women of Valor Book Front revised

We think the people whose stories were shared with us will be a real inspiration…and their stories needed to be told.  Some are in their 90’s and are in nursing homes.   We are losing our American World War II veterans and those of our allies at an alarming rate. Hopefully, there will be many books that share their stories.  During the terrible battles to keep freedom alive,  hope often seemed dim as the bombs dropped and men and women died. There were many prayers for miracles.  Our book covers other men and women who served in Korea and Vietnam.  It gives honor to those serving their country in the fight against terrorism in more recent battles.

Below is a video of some beautiful children singing in honor of all World War II veterans as they walk on the very ground where furious battles were fought.

One Voice Children’s Choir, under the direction of Masa Fukuda, performs “When You Believe.” Filmed on-location at Omaha Beach and Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. Performed in English, Hebrew and French. This song is dedicated to all the soldiers who fought in World War II, including those who fought at Normandy’s Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches in the D-Day Invasion; and to the millions of Jewish victims who lost their lives during the Nazi Holocaust.  (video credit)

We add our appreciation and honor for American and Allied veterans in all wars since WWII.

Men and Women of Valor Back FINALrevised

 VIDEO  (Turn on sound)

 

 

 


The “All In or All Out” Theory

Recently I read an article written by a man who calls for people to “Quit Church”.  The title is stirring and probably got a number of people to read his book with that same title.    His whole point was to either give it your all…or not at all!  Leave and Get out…now!

I’m sure he believes that this will stir people to support fully all that Christ would have them be and the end results would be that they would be totally committed and there would be no deficit in the church budget and the air conditioning will keep running during the hot summer months and their neighbors will be won to Christ…but he may have convinced the marginal believers to do as he said…QUIT!

If his advice is taken by those with a weakness of faith,  eventually churches may look like the one shown here.

abandoned churches

We must not forget that only a few church members from all types of churches and denominations, grand or small country gatherings, are often the ones who reach out to the homeless, addicts, victims of disasters and many other needs around the world. When the government or Red Cross is slow at trying to handle the matter, they step in.  A hand-full of Christians run many of our hospitals and great universities were started by a few Christians who wanted a better life for everyone. None of them quit even though at times they may have felt that their faith to accomplish was weak and wanted to give up.

 

There will always be those who warm the pews and others who get fully involved. These people will be at every meeting, on as many committees as possible and are always available. Others will run the other way from such activities for whatever reason. Do we want them to leave forever?   How will they replace God in their lives?  The emptiness deeply felt and the void will surely be replaced with something else.

God does His work in the heart and the church is sometimes the only safe place that a person may have during times of trial or personal torment. Sometimes it is the stranger who is not a church member that walks into a church and sits on the pew all alone…seeking something…anything to help him or her find a way.  They often don’t know that Christ’s Holy Spirit is there waiting in the quiet.

empty pews

A handful of Christians may have reached deep into their pockets to keep that door open…just for this person sitting alone.   It is what they have done as unto the Lord.  Not everyone will do this, however, and the church leaders expect this even if they wish that it were different.

When the Church was first founded by the Apostles they had to give it all that they had…and most died a martyr’s death because of it.   There is not a pastor alive who would not like to see his church pews filled to overflowing and not have to worry about church politics or any other matter. If only preaching the gospel could bring all people to give their full efforts, it would be grand.  Unfortunately, a pastor or priest does not often see the fruits of their labor.  Years later, someone may have remembered what they heard or felt in the church service even though their life was less than totally committed at the time.

Sometimes people will say “I’m not getting involved because I have been there and done that in my younger years.”  They may have not been told that being a prayer warrior is also being involved. Not everyone can manage to be out-front all the time.

Yet, the minister continues to work with what he or she has and with those who decide to crawl out of bed on Sunday morning and make their way to a pew and to the altar for Holy Communion.   Maybe that person never heard a word he said in the sermon, but he finds solace in the grace of the wine and bread, God reaches out to the heart whether the church is full or not.

It is entirely possible that God doesn’t care about church membership or even the church buildings in which we worship.  These have been handed down by people who built them to honor God and to not forsake the assembling together as Christians, which we are admonished to do in the Holy Scriptures.

As a church body, we have what we have…those human beings who may be strong or weak.    If the church closes because of lack of involvement or funds to operate, then it will close.  Others will open even if they are fellowships within homes where they were started by the first Christians.   Quitting is still not an option.

 

Perhaps Chris Sonksen of California who advocates quitting if you can’t step up to the plate, can think about some of these points.  He says his organization gives “personal coaching to more than 200 churches and impacts thousands of leaders” with his book Quit Church ( if you can’t give it all).  Has he lost sight of the fact that God can reach down and touch a life that is less committed?  We would emphasize again, that it may be the open church door that still stands open where one can sit quietly and find relief from a noisy, violent, and often unfriendly world.  The Christian church founders, through their courage, brought Christian faith to the world.  They never quit when their faith wavered, but encouraged the believers to be “strong in the faith” through every problem.

I remember hearing a minister years ago standing before his congregation and telling them, “I have nothing to say to you today because I am in a desert place.”   He then served Holy Communion and I have never forgotten his honesty.  Should he have resigned  (or quit) his call to ministry at that point?  Of course not.  He needed the prayers of the people for the rough time he was going through.  No, quitting is not an option. How many times must it be said?  We pick ourselves up through God’s grace and continue on.  He will show the way.

Let’s talk about children.  Your child or grandchildren may be the next “apostle” to the world.  Removing them from church worship is also not an option because you don’t think you can give your all.   Are we going to teach them to QUIT in other areas of their life…if they are somewhat reluctant to give it their all?    Are you going to show them by your example that religious faith is not important because your faith is weak?  Should we instead teach them that not everyone has the same spiritual foundation or strengths and there is hope for everyone.  The theory of “All in or All out” is actually not realistic.  We hardly do anything to that extent in life. Nothing is all black or white.

For many people, they baptized their children when they were only an infant.  Did that promise you made at that time to raise them in spiritual grace mean only if you yourself were in perfect harmony with God?    I doubt it.  You have an obligation and vow that was taken for that little one.  baptism of infant

I share with you now some special young people who have a message.  They are imagining what it will be like when they finally see God face to face. We all will, you know.  They also have dreams of the future. Encourage them to love God…even more than you think you do.  Help them to take up the banner of faith…even when we may be lacking.  These children, like those in our churches, are the future.  Don’t quit on them.


Why do Christians call it “Good Friday?”

Crucifixion was one of the most gruesome deaths that a person could endure.  Because of this, it is difficult to understand why the Christians remember that day as “GOOD Friday.”   Let me explain.  It is not the torture of the crucifixion that is considered good…but the message of what this death meant to the people of the world.

1Peter 2:24 tells us, “He Himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds, you have been healed.”

Mary cries at the foot of cross

Christ’s Mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross

What exactly is crucifixion?  Have we ever really given it sufficient thought? Perhaps this description taken from Wikipedia will help:

Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation… Crucifixion was most often performed to dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating similar (usually particularly heinous) crimes. Victims were sometimes left on display after death as a warning to any other potential criminals. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful, gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period. The Greek and Latin words corresponding to “crucifixion” applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake to affixing to a tree…  Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher, wrote: “I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet”…In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 lb…Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post. The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails and other sharp materials are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian, Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem,  “the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest”…While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have traditionally depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, the person being crucified was usually stripped naked. Writings by Seneca the Younger state some victims suffered a stick forced upwards through their groin. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape criticism by some eminent Roman orators. Cicero, for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears”…Frequently, the legs of the person executed were broken or shattered with an iron club, an act called crurifragium, which was also frequently applied without crucifixion to slaves. This act hastened the death of the person.

Christ on cross

Painting by Guido Reni 1575-1642

From the writings of those who heard the last words of Jesus, He said these sentences as the hours past and He eventually died on the cross:

  • “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”   Luke 23:34
  • “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43  This was said to the thief dying on the cross next to Him.
  • “Woman, this is your son.” (Said to his Mother, Mary, who had given Him birth)
  • This is your Mother.”  (Said to His disciple John to take care of His mother Mary)   John 19:26-27

    Sorrowful Mary at cross

    Sculpture of Mary, the mother of sorrows

 

  • My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (This was after 3 hours of darkness, which was only 3:00 o’clock Judea time in the day.)
  • “I thirst.”   (This was the expression of his human suffering. He had been scourged, crowned with thorns and was losing blood.)
  • “It is finished.”  John 19:30
  • “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.”  Luke 23:46

It was by His death that we are redeemed.  “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave Himself as ransom for all.”   1Timothy 2:5-6

Procaccini_Giulio painting

Procaccini_Giulio painting

 

 The Biblical Text of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ  taken from Matthew 27:33-56  And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull),
 they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.   And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots;   then they sat down and kept watch over him there.   And over his head, they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”   Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.  And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,   “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.   He trusts in God; let God deliver him now if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”   And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.   Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Elijah.”   And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink.   But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”   And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.   And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split;   the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,   and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.   When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”   There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him;   among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

(Turn up sound)


Why did the Jews want a King?

raising-lazarus-eric-wallis

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead painting by Eric Wallace

Jesus had just performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead.  People around this event had actually seen this miracle happen after Lazarus had been buried four days.  There was no doubt about it. Throughout His ministry on earth there had been many miracles: water to wine, healing the leper, the blind and the sick.

The word of this particular miracle spread quickly and when Jesus found a donkey to ride through the streets, the crowds came out to meet him in a frenzy.  Surely this man was going to save them from the Romans and become their King and Messiah.

Jesus Triumphant entry into Jerusalem

 

They called out to him, giving him the name of not only “king”, but also “Prophet, Son of David, the Messiah, and the Hope of Israel.”   There was great excitement and expectation that things would change for them through this man who did great and wondrous things.    The crowd threw down palm branches before him as they would a great leader or someone they were ready to make their ruler.   They shouted “Hosannah!”  Many Christian churches reenact this event on Palm Sunday.

Since previous posts have been about LENT and MAUNDY THURSDAY, perhaps it would be good to put into sequence the main Christian days of the Easter Holy Week prior to Easter:

  • Ash Wednesday  (Ashes placed on the forehead for prayer, fasting and sorrow for sins in repentance)  Job, Jerimiah, Daniel, Mathew and Luke are a few scriptures where this is described.
  • Palm Sunday (Triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem)
  • Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper, washing of disciple’s feet, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and the arrest by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin )
  • Good Friday  (The Crucifixion)
  • Easter Sunday  (The Resurrection of Christ, the Messiah)

 

Jews_Praying_on_Yom_Kippur

The Jews praying at Yom Kippur in the Synagogue. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement which is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish faith. It is a period of introspection and repentance. Jews celebrate Passover just before the Christian Easter.

The Jews knew the Holy Scriptures. David had taken an oath to Saul that he would make certain that the descendants would not be destroyed. (1st Samuel 26)  Jesus Christ, being from the line of David, could possibly in their minds be the Messiah or Mashiach which means the “anointed” one.

mashiach: anointed

Original Hebrew Word: מָשִׁ֫יחַ
Phonetic Spelling: (maw-shee’-akh)

Jesus knew what was going to happen to him and that He had not come to be an earthly king, but to be a Savior and the Messiah for Whom the Jews had been waiting.

Many Jews, even today, have through the study of the Holy Scriptures, both old and new, have found Christ to be their Messiah.  These are often referred to as Messianic Jews.  (For personal stories of  Messianic Jews, see the link after the video.)

VIDEO (Turn up sound) 

 

Click for personal stories of Messianic Jews 

 


What is Maundy Thursday?

My last post during this Easter season was about the temptation of Christ in the desert.  Today we look at another special day in the week before the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

What exactly does Maundy Thursday mean?   The word Maundy is a shortened form of mandatum, which is Latin.  The word means “command”.

Passover Super

The last Passover meal with the disciples

Jesus celebrated the final Passover meal with His disciples. It was during this time that He gave a command to them, as He washed their feet in a great gesture of compassion and humility.  This was usually the job of a servant.

004-jesus-washes-feet

Christians today and in centuries past believe it was also a command to show love and humility to others.  He said the following to them:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

Some Christian congregations today have the ceremony of foot washing, after the example of Christ.  The Pope has gone to prisons and washed the feet of prisoners, usually kissing their feet after they were washed and dried.  He too was obeying the command and example of Christ.

Do we all have to ask to wash people’s feet? The answer would be “no” in that there are many ways to show love and compassion as well as humility.  Think of how you can show God’s love at this Easter season and throughout the year. God will show you how.

Humility and Love is the real lesson Jesus gave us as Christians.   Christ said that in this way, people will know that you are His followers and disciples.

VIDEO:  Turn up sound

 

 


What exactly is LENT?

Temptations_of_Christ 12 century mosaic st mark's basilica Venice _(San_Marco)

In St Mark’s Basilica in Venice is the painting of The Temptations of Christ

For readers who are not Christian or do not understand why Christians practice a somber period of time before the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it may be good to give an explanation of LENT.

The word “Lent” is derived from Old English lencten, meaning ‘spring’, the lengthening of days after winter is over. This was a period of spring fasting known in Old English as Lencten-Fasten, or in its abbreviated form, as Lencten or Lent. The ecclesiastical name for this once mandatory period of fasting is the Quadragesimal Fast, or the fast of the Forty Days, in imitation of the forty days of fasting performed by Jesus in the wilderness.” (Encyclopedia.com)

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_.

From the Brooklyn Museum is a painting of Christ in Desert during 40 days.

As Christians, we decide in our own ways, a time of reflection and serious thinking about the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus for our sins. Because Christ was born into mankind, he had to resist the temptations that men and women have had to face throughout history.  His ability to do so was no different from the soul-searching and agony that many of us face in difficult situations. That was because He was completely human even if He was the Son of God.

I would encourage our readers to take a few minutes to look for these opportunities to contemplate the life of Christ as part of your quiet times in LENT.

In the video below, the actors portray Jesus and His 40 days spent in the wilderness.  In this setting, Jesus was away from the crowds that followed Him and only had God, His Father to share His earthly conflicts.  It is during His time in the desert that Satan, dramatized here as the source of evil, appears to Christ and offers Him the kingdoms of the world and food for his hunger…with a condition.   Our own temptations often have compromises and conditions as well as consequences.

Parts of this video are difficult to watch, but there was nothing easy for our Lord and neither is resisting easy for anyone.   Perhaps understanding what Jesus the Christ went through will help us understand the season of LENT a little better.

Video   (turn up sound)

 

 

Credits:  The Bible TV Series,  Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4) extract by Tomas Viluckas 2014

 


A Message Heard Around the World

The Reverend Billy Graham at crusades

 

Some points of interest as Billy Graham is laid to rest:

  • His casket was in the Nation’s Capitol Rotunda for two days.  Only a few private citizens have had this honor. Dr. Graham’s son, Franklin, was given the flag that flew over the Capitol while he is body was there.
  • The casket, shown in the pictures below, was made of pine plywood by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.   It is lined with a mattress and topped with a simple wooden cross. The names of the inmates are carved on the casket.

 

 

The Reverend Billy Graham died at age 99, but his message of faith and hope was heard around the world in that brief time in history.  One of his favorite sayings is also memorable:

” This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.”   We should all remember this.

His message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ spoke to every human being…the gang member, the elite, Presidents, the average person, and those who felt hopeless…everyone…because it was the message of love from God to all mankind.

The song that always was a part of the Graham ministry was “Just as I Am”.  The hymn was written, first as a poem,  in 1835 by a British woman, Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), who had convinced herself that her physical disabilities left her nothing to offer God at midlife.  A minister asked Charlotte whether she had truly given her heart to Christ. The question upset her in some ways but later she told the minister, “I want to serve God but I don’t know how.” He replied, “Just come to him as you are.”

Perhaps we should hear Billy Graham’s final message to the world as he knew his time was drawing near.   If you watch this video to the end, there is a special invitation to you from Dr. Graham.

VIDEO  (Turn up sound)

 

Franklin Graham heads the international Christian relief ministry to help people in distress,  called Samaritan’s Purse.

“After sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said “Go and do likewise.” That is the mission of Samaritan’s Purse—to follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the Gospel.”   

Go back to the video above for Dr. Graham’s message.

 

 


200 Year Old Scroll is brought to Jerusalem from Iraq

At Christmas time, we read the Holy Scriptures that a Savior was born to save the people of the world.  We hardly think of the origin of the scriptures or the ancient ones that are still out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.  It seems that there has been a great discovery in Iraq. Surprises happen when one is least expecting them.

When American soldiers were in Iraq, they may have discovered an old scroll that those who had hidden it hoped that someday…even if it was to be 200 years later…would be found.  The people of the world would know that there was a thriving Jewish people who were forced to leave everything behind…including their most sacred objects.   These were hidden away in hopes of preserving them.

ANCIENT TORAH SCROLL 2015

This is the story behind the find according to a writing by Daniel Estrin for the Associated Press:

“…The scroll is a remnant of Iraq’s 2,500-year-old Jewish community, one of the world’s oldest, which all but disappeared when large numbers of Jews left for Israel following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. Only a handful of Jews are left in Iraq today, following decades of war and instability.

Like other ancient Jewish texts from Arab lands, the scroll’s path to Israel remains unclear, with Israeli officials offering different theories.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the scroll’s journey from Iraqi intelligence storage to a synagogue in the ministry “represents the fate of the Jews.” Jews have been persecuted, he said, but “in the end they come to Israel.”

Iraqi authorities forbade Jews who left for Israel from taking ritual objects and other property with them. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American soldiers discovered ancient Iraqi Jewish Torahs and other community documents in the waterlogged basement of Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad and took the manuscripts to the U.S. for restoration. They have gone on display in the U.S., and American officials have promised to return the items to Iraq.

Foreign Ministry officials say the scroll is Jewish property and belongs in the Jewish state. To celebrate the scroll’s restoration, Lieberman and an Israeli chief rabbi marched with the scroll around the perimeter of the Foreign Ministry building, with some 300 ministry employees, from workers in the diplomatic mailroom to ambassadors, trailing behind them throwing candy, clapping and singing.

The head of storage at Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem, Amnon Israel, said he stumbled upon the scroll, moldy and torn and without any label marking its origin, in the ministry’s storage room on his first day on the job in late 2013.

He was told that American soldiers took the scroll from Iraqi intelligence storage during the war and handed it to Israeli diplomats in Jordan for restoration in Israel. On the back of the Torah scroll, in a section from the Book of Exodus, is a round black splotch that Israeli foreign ministry officials say is an Iraqi intelligence stamp.

But Israel, the storage head, says he is not sure that’s the real story.

An Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Iraqi Torah’s existence in Israel is a potentially sensitive diplomatic issue, said someone brought the scroll to Israel’s embassy in Jordan around 2007. Security officials at the embassy X-rayed the scroll to make sure it was not booby-trapped before showing it to the Israeli ambassador, the official said.

In 2011, after an Egyptian mob ransacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Israel’s Foreign Ministry ordered diplomats in Jordan to transfer all non-essential items from the embassy in Amman to Israel.

“There was great fear that people in Jordan would hold demonstrations and burst into the embassy in Jordan, and there was an order to take out any object that didn’t necessarily need to be kept at the embassy,” Israel said.

The scroll was brought to the Foreign Ministry in 2012, where it sat undisturbed in the storage room. Only when Israel invited Jerusalem scribe Akiva Garber to inspect the scroll did it become clear the Torah was from Iraq…”

It is interesting that the Holy Scriptures have passed through wars, many countries, and still many years later surface to once again show that God has preserved his Word.  He wants the world to know the truth of His love and goodness.  At this Christmas time, amid all the hustle and bustle of shopping and parties, take time to be quiet and reflect.  God wants our hearts to be calm and at peace with the good news that a child is born Who will be the Savior of the World.   God’s Word will not return void.  It will speak to you with a message that He wants you to know.

So pick up that Bible that may have a touch of dust and read…asking God to speak to you through His Holy Word.

Isaiah 55:11   So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Video   Turn up Sound


A LIFE PHILOSOPHY THAT MAKES SENSE

Often we hear a philosophy or belief in a specific culture that makes a great deal of sense.  For instance, the Japanese believe that when a person turns 60 years old, they are able to start a new cycle of life.   They call this special age, kanreki.

60-kanreki

  It is a time for people to arrange things in a proper place.   Some Americans may call it “getting things in order…or even downsizing.”  The Japanese think it is a time of celebration and the beginning of a new life cycle, so they celebrate the 60th birthday by giving gifts that are red and having a party.   The gift could be a red shirt, scarf, or even red underwear.

kaneki celebration

Celebrating Kanreki

Now the color red is a vivid color that has energy and stands out from other colors.  Perhaps this infers that this new phase of life should be taken on with a new enthusiasm and with new prospects for the future.

According to Japanese Society, “achievements are celebrated and a lifetime’s troubles are forgotten as the celebrated individual enters a new stage of life with all the joy and possibilities of a newborn.” 

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kaneki cat

Funny Gift Cat at kanreki

 

Perhaps we Americans should think more along this line and have more fun. We often hear people say things  like “Getting old..or older…is not for the faint-hearted.”   This seems pretty pessimistic to me.  Life is not over…it is just a new chance at a new beginning.

The Japanese also refer to this year as a Year of Reflection.

60-year olds are expected to use this year as a year of reflection. They are to look at their lives and achievements and use this time as a good opportunity to plan the direction in which they would like to move as they begin their second sixty-year cycle of life.  Beyond the Kanreki, they celebrate the Koki (70 years old), Kiju (77 years old), Beiju.(88 years old), Sotsuju (90 years old), Kajimaya.(97 years old), Hakuju (99 years old), and Hyakusai No Ga (100 years old).  (from online Japanese culture)

As a Christian, we would say to be “Thankful” for a long life and give God honor for all He has blessed us with in life.   The Japanese think it is a time to forget the past and move on…leaving it behind.    This seems like a very good philosophy of life.  If you are passed the age of 60, you can still celebrate…for you have lived longer.  If you are not age 60 years old, dedicate your life to the beauty of living…for the years that you may have before you.

Another thing I read about recently was the way the Japanese look at a snowflake.  It is a perfect example of symmetry and each one is different.   The pictures below were made by Wilson Bentley.

SnowflakesWilsonBentley

 

As you can see, each snowflake has a different shape.  We could compare them to the fact that every human is made differently and wonderful. The snowflake is beautiful as it floats from the sky to the ground.   The time of its forming until it melts on the ground is a short time.  So is life.   The days of men and women are numbered and short, but much of life is beautiful…especially if we try to see that beauty.  Your life was specifically formed to be only you.  Each one of us will live and each one will die…as the snowflake sheds beauty on the world until it is no more.

Even the Japanese cherry blossoms come only for a short time in all their glory. Sometimes they even look like snow drifting …drifting…gently drifting.  Shortly they will reach the ground, sharing their beauty one more time.

 

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Try to share your special beauty with someone around you today.  Celebrate Life!

 

Enjoy Kyoto in the Snow video.  Turn on sound.

(Taken by Althea Pan)

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Understanding Those Who Leave this Hectic World to find Peace

valaam_trees

There are times when one will want to just forget about the world around them.  Things seem too hectic…too confused…too dangerous in our modern world that some would say has gone “MAD”.   A few make the choice to leave it.  They desire to find peace…to know God…and to rest from the frays of life.  They choose another way.

Today I will share with you what some in a  Russian monastery say is their reason for leaving the world, their families and all that the modern life holds.  We try to understand why they have made this choice…as have many in other parts of the world.

When the ice on the lake melts, many pilgrims, men and women,  come to the Monastery to seek out a spiritual life through a visit, worship, and prayers from the monks.

The following slide presentation of photographs are by Paul Miller, who was also invited to live at the Monastery for a period of time and photograph their lives.

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Just down the Blue Ridge Parkway from where my husband and I live is a scene of rolling hills and a monastery set in the arms of our lovely mountains.  Outsiders are not welcome to visit there.  They have their purposes. The men there care for the grounds of this beautiful place and other chores they may be assigned.  They have left the world that is just in sight out their windows… as tourists ride the Parkway.

One wonders about the Monasteries world-wide.  Do they wish to have their normal life back after being there for a while?   The men in this video try to explain their reasons, beliefs and their feelings about this question.

Boyer Writes shares with our readers the life of Russian Orthodox monks on the islands of Valaam. The Valaam Monastery is often referred to as the Athos of the North.  It is located north of St. Petersburg, Russia on an island on Lake Ladoga.

The music is: “Liadov: 8 Russian Folk Songs – 6. Cradle Song” by Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, Enrique Bátiz


HOW TO HEAL A NATION…a WORLD

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2ndChronicles 7:14 in the Holy Scriptureswoman prayingman prayingchild praying

Individuals do terrible things. Groups of people do terrible things. Nations do terrible things.  The numbers of attacks on people of the United States speak for themselves. (chart below)  Throughout the world, it is even worse where men, women and children, including Americans, were brutally attacked as they went about their everyday life.  Sandy Hook Elementary School was an attack on little children and teachers. Columbine was a high school filled with young people. VA Tech also had young people.   Again, the Scriptures warn us: “And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone was hanged about his neck, and he was cast into the sea.”  Mark 9:42

Attacks on people in USA

Victims from 1999-2017 Chart from BBC

We, who claim the name of Christ, must humble ourselves…pray…and ask for the healing that this world needs.  If we don’t, who will?

  • We, here at Boyer Writes, ask that you send  a prayer request if you would like prayer…write to  boyerwrites@yahoo.com
  • Use only first names in anything you write and the State or Country where you live.
  • We will pray for each one of the requests.  That is our promise.

WE ASK EVERYONE IF YOU READ A COMMENT TO PRAY A SINCERE AND FERVENT PRAYER.  MAY ALL THESE PRAYERS COME FROM AROUND THE WORLD TO OUR LORD IN HEAVEN THAT WE MAY HAVE THE HEALING SO DESPERATELY NEEDED. 


CARVED IN STONE…the Sweat and Toil

Pieta Christ and the virgin

Michelangelo’s Pieta. … In 1497, a cardinal named Jean de Billheres commissioned Michelangelo to create a work of sculpture to go into a side chapel at Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

To chisel in stone a creation takes more than the idea…but also the sweat and toil that goes with it.  To carve any statue or a part of a building took hands and a hammer…with usually a price to pay.   Recently I watched where statues that were carefully created are being removed and stored in some place to possibly be forgotten.  Our children will not be able to see the beauty of a carved work of art, regardless of who may be represented in the statue.
Removal-of-Confederate-statues-Baltimore-USA-16-Aug-2017Gen Lee statue removed

In the Middle East, ISIS destroyed works of art carved into hillsides and in temples and museums.   Gone from the earth because of dissent, mistrust, and complete disrespect for beauty or labor in stone…never to be seen again.

ISIS destroying statues Iraq or Syria

If ISIS could take over cities in Europe or the Vatican, would they also destroy the priceless statues and antiquities that were made in the name of the Christian faith, as they have done in the Middle East to museum works of art that are thousands of years old?   See video link of destruction

The amazing works of art and marble statues could have been lost forever during World War II if it had not been for those who hid them or those who discovered them when it was ordered that they should be destroyed if Hitler should lose the war.  The most famous true story of this is when the American army sent art experts to find where the Nazi regime had hidden them.  This is better known by the film called Monuments Men.  

Perhaps the greatest sculptor in stonework in history was Michaelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 1475-1564.  He aimed high for perfection in all that he made out of stone and in the paintings that he painted.  He had the greatest influence on art in the Renaissance period and beyond.  Not only did he produce some of the greatest stone works of art, but his masterpieces upon the walls of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican are beyond beautiful and inspiring.

C67-810899

The Last Judgment by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.

vatican-sistine-chapel ceiling paintings by Michaelangelo

Sistine Chapel Ceiling Paintings by Michelangelo

quote-the-greatest-danger-for-most-of-us-is-not-that-our-aim-is-too-high-and-we-miss-it-but-michelangelo-48-14-50 (1)

The word Renaissance means “Rebirth”. His story in the video below is not only his search for meaning in life, but about his ability as a sculptor to make stone into an almost breathing piece of life.  His life as a sculptor and artist, after hundreds of years, should be an inspiration to all of us to protect the monuments in stone that speak of history, faith, and of artistic beauty… that if lost…can not be replaced.  Consider…if for no other reason, the hands that chiseled and the sweat that poured to make something wonderful for the world to enjoy is worth protecting and preserving.  Perhaps we need a new “rebirth” period in our modern age.

 

 

AMEN and AMEN


A Rugged Man becomes a Building Block

Blue Ridge Mts

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with Buffalo Mt. in the background

The mountain churches of the Blue Ridge have some extremely interesting history, especially the Rock Churches that were built by the dedication of one rugged man who found Jesus Christ as his Savior and went on to make the Blue Ridge Mountains his mission field.

Bob Childress

The following video tells the story of Bob Childress as told by narration and his Grandson, Stewart Childress, who carries on the ministry in these hills.  My husband, Bill Boyer,  has been privileged to be a part of the ministry here as needed and called on when we live here for a few months of the year.

You are invited to come and see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains on your next trip to Virginia in the U.S.A and worship in one of the six churches called Rock Churches because each one is built from the rocks of the mountain.  You will be given a warm, southern welcome.

  • Bluemont, in Patrick County, built 1919, rock-faced 1945-1946.
  • Mayberry, in Patrick County, built 1925, rock-faced 1948.
  • Buffalo Mountain, in Floyd and Carroll Counties, build of fieldstone in 1929.
  • Slate Mountain, in Floyd and Patrick Counties, built of fieldstone in 1932, expanded in 1951.
  • Dinwiddie, in Carroll County, built of fieldstone in 1948.
  • Willis, in Floyd County, built of fieldstone in 1954.

Here is the story in brief form to wet your appetite to read the full story in The Man Who Moved a Mountain.   by Richard Davids.

Book Man Who Moved a Mountain

 

VIDEO: Turn up sound   (from DanTraveling)

Another book about the Blue Ridge Mountains    Old Timers of the Blue Ridge and More by N.W. Boyer

Coming out this Fall will be a new book by N.W. Boyer   Spencer’s Mill


Ancient Christian Traditions…a Journey

Orthodox Russian church in Russia

For our weekend pleasure, I would like to take you on a journey to a place that most people will not go.  We will go via this blog and video to Valaam and the archipelago of monks who live and worship there today.

Valamo Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery in Russian Karelia, located on Valaam, the largest island in Lake Ladoga, which is the largest lake in Europe. The monastery of Valaam has a unique tradition of singing, called the Valaam chant, that combines some features of  Byzantine and Znamenny chants.

For all Christians everywhere, the life of faith is a journey.  It may be hard for some believers to understand the various forms of Christian worship and the interpretation of the Holy Life.   Just as there are differences in worship between the various Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic or Anglican liturgy, all study the Holy Scriptures and live their lives accordingly.  One may question if these men of the monasteries understand grace…and grace alone.  Do they believe that their lives of dedication is a type of works that will gain them eternal life?   I would pray that they understand that Christ has done all there is to do for our salvation and faith in Him is the way and only way of eternal life. There are no works that can save.  Nevertheless, the brotherhood, obedience, and beauty of their worship service

One may question if these men of the monasteries understand grace…and grace alone for salvation? Do they believe that their life of dedication is a type of works that will gain them eternal life?   I would pray that they understand that Christ has done all there is to do for our salvation. His death on the cross paid the entire price for sin.  Nevertheless, the brotherhood, obedience, and beauty of their worship service is all to be admired. Their spiritual life of prayer is their gift to the world.  There is a restfulness and peace about their dedicated lives.  Prayer is extremely important to them as it should be to all Christians.

While the lake is frozen, the monks work at their assigned jobs, pray and meditate.  When the lake thaws, they welcome the world with its pain and sorrows. They become a sounding board for the weary of life, sick and discouraged.  Even those who may be oppressed or possessed by evil, come to the monastery for relief.  Young people, often from orphanages, come to draw strength for their everyday lives of temptations.

The gentleman who visits the monastery is looking to talk again with Father Seraphim, whom he visited 20 years before.  The Father explains that their mission is to pray nightly for the world that is “upside down”.  It is a blessing and relief to know that Christians in remote places are praying for a world that so desperately needs God’s help. Thank you, Monks of Valaam. 

The video (with English subtitles)  gives insight into the ancient Christian traditions and the priests of today who live and worship in the Valaam Monastery in frozen Russia.  (Suggestion:  If the video is too long for your period of time to view, simply pause, minimize and go back to it for another segment.  You will be blessed.)