Thank You For Visiting

Anna makes a welcome sign

Photo: Julia Ozab

Welcome to my small part of the Internet.

If it is your first time here, please introduce yourself in the comments

If this is a repeat visit, or if you stop by frequently, say “hi” anyway.

I want to thank you for visiting. This is but one of countless millions of active blogs on the internet. It’s hard to get anyone’s attention in such a big crowd.

A community like Five Minute Friday helps. Thanks Lisa-Jo for creating this opportunity for us to visit one another in this limited way, and thanks to the community for welcoming me even though I don’t fit the predominant demographic.

Virtual visits are no match for face to face contact, and I’m glad for the opportunity to meet at least a few of you from the Pacific Northwest and beyond at the Faith and Culture Writers Conferences (I attended last year and am returning in March). But to the rest of you, I wouldn’t know your writing or your experiences without this community and the technology that supports it.

And for that I am grateful.

May God bless all of you—both FMF contributors visiting today and other followers of my blog—and may we continue to encourage and uplift one another with our words.

Five Minute Friday

The Saint and the Sinner

"Sinners Welcome" banner over church door.

Photo: Mary Karr

This photo reminds me of a story. I heard it years ago and don’t remember the details, but here it is to the best of my recollection:

There was this church—in Russia, let say—a big, beautiful Orthodox church with an extraordinary icon wall and stunning mosaics. It was always full of devout worshipers at every celebration of the Divine Liturgy. One of the parishioners was an elderly hermit—a very holy man, admired by everyone in the community—another one was a young man and a notorious sinner. The young man hadn’t been to the Liturgy in many months, but he came one Sunday.

Before long, the whispers began. “Why is he here?” “How dare he set foot in this sacred place!” “He should be outside in sackcloth and ashes begging the community for forgiveness and instead he comes here in his Sunday best as if nothing had happened?”

The priest sensed the tension and just before he entered the sanctuary to begin the liturgy, he walked over to the young man. They spoke for a few minutes and the man left.

The priest returned to the sanctuary and in a few moments the procession stepped out in front of the icon wall. But as the priest swung the censer, no one was watching him. Instead they turned and watched the hermit as he walked to the door, made the sign of the cross and left the building. It wasn’t until the priest gave the homily that he noticed the hermit was gone.

After the liturgy, the priest walked across the garden to the hermit’s cell, which was on the far end of the church’s property, and knocked on the door.

“O Holy Abbot,” the priest asked with his head bowed. “Why did you leave during the liturgy?”

“Well, father, I saw you asked the young man to leave,” the hermit replied.

“But he is a notorious sinner,” the priest responded. “Certainly you’ve heard.”

“I have. But as Saint Paul wrote ‘Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first,’ and, since sinners are no longer welcome at your parish, I left as well.”

At that point the priest dropped to his knees and begged the hermit to forgive him. He did. And the priest visited the young man that very afternoon, heard his confession, and welcomed him by name the following Sunday.

Five Minute Friday