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Great Lent: How to Keep the Fast | A Russian Orthodox Church Website

Sunday of St. John Climacus

Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church

(206) 542-13

Weekly ebulletin for April 11, 2021


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Healing is Not Easy:  But I Must Again Choose Life…

As I reflect on the icon of St. John of the Ladder, I've come to realize the various characters, the various voices what loudly whisper lies about who we are.  Lies that pull us off the divine ladder of divine ascent!  Look at the icon and see which one has the most power in your life.

Shame lies to us telling us, "we are unlovable".   Depression tells us, "Life is not worth living, we are not good enough and unworthy of joy or love. Stupid is constantly telling us we don't know anything.  Anxiety robs us of living in the present spinning us with thoughts echoing, "what if's in life".  What if I get cancer.  What if the stock market crashes?  What if I lose my job?  

Perhaps the remainder of our lenten journey needs to focus on who we are listening to and if it isn't Jesus, we need to change the station and attentively listen to the voice of God reminding us that we are His beloved children.  Here is an old reflection an article on the Give back group that has helped me see the power of these ANTS, (automatic, negative thoughts!)

I’ve lived more than a handful of years, many of them spent with depression and anxiety as unwelcome yet close companions.  I’ve been suicidal more often than I care to remember and felt overwhelmingly worthless too many times to count.  My ‘good’ days were those that I didn’t think about dying.  Anxiety has held me back in my career and relationships and coupled with its partner depression, has convinced me to be isolated.  I have served at the altar of fear for most of my life.  

Given this reality, I have always thought that healing would be a wonderful thing.  I’ve longed for God to wave a wand and make me happy, make me not miserable.  I’ve treated God like a waiter, demanding him to bring me what I want and to do it now.  And along the way, I have wondered why I continue to wallow.  

Over the past couple of years, I have been part of the Give Back Group and have found myself in the company of good, good people; people who struggle with various addictions and other challenges, but who share in many of the same underlying challenges of despair and loneliness.

 I’ve begun to open up a bit, to practice trusting people with small bits of myself.  What a gift this group has been, full of love, support, and good will.  They have helped loosen some of the chains I have had wrapped around my heart. 

And now, like Lazarus, I find myself being called out of the tomb, into the freedom of life in Christ in a way I have not experienced before:  with peace.   In the past six months, for reasons that are still not known to me, God has begun to restore my spirit to new life.  My depression and anxiety, so often crippling companions, have faded in their intensity.  

Over the summer, I realized that I was struggling much, much less than I had in the past.  And yet I find myself hesitating at the edge of the darkness. I have found that even as the darkness is dissipating in the light, I am afraid to step fully out of the shadows.   Healing is not easy, in fact, for me it is somewhat scary.  How can this be, since I fully believe that the easing up of my anxiety and depression has come from God? 

You see, I know depression.  I know anxiety.  I am good at them and we have a long history together.  But they continue to try and drag me down.  They are known, but they are not of God.  I do not know how to live in freedom and peace.  I do not know how to let the fear go and live as God’s safe and beloved child. 

So today, I must again choose life, I must again choose to accept Christ and his healing.  He is freely offering it, but I have to step out in faith to receive it.  I must live in the here and now, in this moment that he has given, not in the past and not in the future.  I am on the journey and I am learning to practice how to live in faith and love and God’s gracious peace.  What a gift. 

Keep climbing!,

+fr. tom

Upcoming Events

​​Click here for our online calendar​​​


Sunday, April 11th

Orthos 8:00 am

Liturgy 9:00 am

Monday, April 12th

Great Compline 6:30pm

Wednesday, April 14th

Bible Study Online 12noon - 1pm

Presanctified Liturgy 6:30pm

Friday, April 16th 

Salutations 6:30pm

Sunday, April 18th

Orthos 8:00 am

Liturgy 9:00 am

Monday, April 19th

Great Compline 6:30pm

Wednesday, April 21st

Bible Study Online 12noon - 1pm

Presanctified Liturgy 6:30pm

Saturday, April 24th

Lazarus Saturday

Orthos 8:00 am

Liturgy 9:00 am

Sunday, April 25th

Palm Sunday

Orthos 8:00 am

Liturgy 9:00 am

Bridegroom Service 6:30pm

Monday, April 26th

Holy Monday

Bridegroom Service 6:30pm

Tuesday, April 27th

Holy Tuesday

Bridegroom Service 6:30pm

Wednesday, April 28th

Holy Wednesday

Holy Unction Service 6:30pm

Thursday, April 29th

Holy Thursday

Divine Liturgy 9am 

​12 Passion Gospel Service 6:30pm

Friday, April 30th

Holy Friday

Royal Hours 9am

Taking Christ Down from the Cross 3pm

Lamentations 6:30pm

Saturday, May 1st 

Holy Saturday

Divine Liturgy 9am

Resurrection Service 11:30pm

Sunday, May 2nd


Agape Service 1pm

"Stop the Insanity"

Thursday, May 13th 

at 6:30- 7:45 p.m.

Most of us hate conflict and avoid it at all costs, since the after math of conflict is anger, frustration and hurt feelings.  Conflict can be a means to connection not separation if we respond to the conflict with the armor of Christ, with a grounded and centered heart.  Join us as we discuss the powerful theme of conflict:  "Stop the Insanity" on  Thursday, May 13th at 6:30 pm.

We will discover that it is ‘how’ we respond to conflict that becomes the problem and that conflict is truly God’s megaphone that something needs tending to within ourselves and within the relationship.

Attempting to resolve conflict using the same methods while looking for a different outcome is a classic example for the definition of insanity.  In part three of this “Coming Home to a Better Marriage", you will receive some practical tips on how to engage conflict in different and healthy ways, as well as learn how perspective taking can be the catalyst in helping you create a deeper connection and positive changes in your relationships

pre-register at:


Sunday Readings 

Sunday of St. John Climacus
The Gospel According to Mark 9:17-31

​At that time, a man came to Jesus kneeling and saying: "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." 

And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has he had this?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us." 

And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again." And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, "He is dead." 

But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting." They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise."

Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 3.
Psalm 46.6,1
Sing praises to our God, sing praises.
Verse: Clap your hands, all you nations.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 6:13-20

BRETHREN, when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore to himself, saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you." And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. 

Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. 

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

Bible Study: 

Wednesday, April 14th

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

We will study the Previous Sunday's

 Epistle and Gospel


A Message of Hope in a Chaotic World

For the journey through Lent we will focus on the previous Sunday's epistle and gospel reading. 


Our next study will be on: Mark 9:17-31

 This is a recurring Wednesday meeting.  just click the link below

Please make time to immerse yourself in God's word...We look forward to being with you together with one mind and heart, to study the lessons discovered during the Lenten Journey Wednesday from 12:00 p.m - 1:00 p.m..  Looking forward to stepping into this sacred scripture as God's word  brings peace in our hearts during our lenten journey.


Battling Against Those Thoughts!


I feel blessed and extremely honored to be a part of the ‘Give Back Group’.  Even though this past year we have not met, I owe this group so much gratitude as these brave people have helped me see what it takes to battle addictive behavior like porn, gambling, depression, anxiety, anger, drugs, alcohol, and fear.  We have witnessed healing that comes when two or more come together in God’s presence asking for help to take life back from the grips of these addictive behaviors!  


These powerful souls have taught me how our mind, body, and heart, can be so battered and disconnected by the addiction causing experiences of deep darkness, ugly isolated silence, leading to extreme depression, pain, and despair. 


I have clearly seen how addiction convinces us life is about the old problem saturated story telling us we are worthless, unworthy and don't matter.  We are not valued and life is not worth living. The voice of addiction tricks us to believe there is no light, no hope, no peace in addiction’s hellhole!!!


The truth is no one really wants to die before their time.  No one truly wants to put that needle in their arm.  No one wants be overtaken with road rage.  Who doesn’t  want to have a healthy nights sleep but can’t due to anxiety?  No one in their right mind wants to overdose or put a gun to their head. No one truly wants to spend hours looking through their computer into deplorable sexual images of their brother’s and sisters on the internet.


I have come to realize how addictive thoughts overtake life and start ruling our life with negativity.  We end up becoming a passenger to our body submitting to the voice of addiction as it takes over the steering wheel of our soul. It tricks us into becoming someone else.  It deceives us to not face up to past or current painful events with clarity, power and love.  


The addiction steers us to respond with fear and embarrassment so we end up hiding and then begin traveling the deadly road to lying. Addiciton slowly robs us of life and the more it goes unnoticed or the longer there is no solution, it become like a small tooth decay that can take over and destroy someone’s tooth!! 


Having said all this, I have seen miracles as these brave souls have walked the steps, have climbed the moutain.  Like St. John Climacus says, we have to be committed to staying on the ladder, committed to seeking the truth and love of Jesus.  I have witnessed how damaged hearts that had no hope and on the tipping point of ending life can open up a crack allowing the light of Christ to generate new possibilities to old problems and to offer life!!  


The ‘Give Back Group has taught me about LIFE!! We have yelled and have gotten mad at God striving to be REAL. We continue to demand there be 'no' judgment and strive to be curious asking lots of questions to respond to the real with LOVE. .  Laughter, prayer, and community have provided HELP.  

We realize there are new solutions to old problems when we look with the eyes of  FAITH.  We've constantly supported and challenged each other to ask Jesus to come along side us in this unbearable pain knowing there is HOPE,  knowing God created each person as special- in His Loving image and likeness, knowing that if we keep walking up the ladder to Jesus He will help us with each step!

+fr. tom

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