Author Archives: Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli

About Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli

Through the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North America House of Studies, Dr. Kerxhalli holds a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in the Eastern Christian context; a Master of Arts (M.A.) Degree in Applied Orthodox Theology from the University of Balamand, St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology; and, is a graduate of the St. Stephens Program in Applied Orthodox Theology.

Women in Jesus’ Genealogy

Women are mentioned throughout the Old and New Testament, but the only New Testament scripture which mentions women in Jesus’ Genealogy is the Book of Matthew 1:1.

At that time in the world, only the males were listed in the genealogy of children, but Matthew took the time to include some of the women even though he is writing his Gospel for the ancient Israelites who were a strict paternally focused society.    Because women are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, many biblical scholars believe that the genealogy in Matthew 1:1 is that of the Virgin Mary.  Since Jesus took his humanity from his mother’s lineage, then, it may be assumed that this is the direct bloodline of Jesus’ humanity.

Women mentioned in Jesus’ Genealogy:

Tamar.  Tamar was the wife of Judah’s eldest son who was killed.   Judah had given her to his second son, but the second son did not want to conceive a child with her, so Judah promised Tamar to his youngest son as a wife to raise up children for the dead son, but this did not come to pass. Because societal norms at that time deemed that this was Tamar’s right, she disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah thereby conceiving (Genesis 38) twin boys Perez and Zerah.  Perez is listed in the Old Testament Book of Ruth as an ancestor to King David (Ruth 4:18-22)

Rahad.  Rahab saved three spies of Israel who entered Jericho and as a result, she and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho.  She begot Boaz who is listed in Jesus’ genealogy.

Ruth was united with Boaz and gave birth to Obed.  Obed gave birth to Jesse and Jesse gave birth to David the King.

Wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) and King David.  Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon and Nathan.

The holy fathers of the church believe the inclusion of some women in Jesus’ genealogy  implicates the important role women would play in God’s plan for mankind’s salvation and the Virgin Mary’s special place in that plan.

Virgin Mary.  In the book of Matthew, Joseph is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy because Old Testament  marriage laws bestowed hereditary rights on both adopted and biological sons.

Although the Virgin Mary’s mother (Anna) and father (Joachim) are not mentioned in the Holy Bible, the Virgin Mary is also of the lineage of King David on her father, Joachim’s, side as written in the Protoevangelium of James. Interestingly, the Virgin Mary’s mother Anna is of the daughters of Aaron which indicates the mother was from the tribe of Levi, the Priest tribe.  Although not generally practiced in ancient Israelite society, the tribes did sometime intermarry.  So, of the 12 Tribes of Israel, the Virgin Mary contained both blood lines:  the line of Judah/King David and the line of Levi, the Priest Tribe – this is Jesus’ humanity bloodline.

Although much of the Protoevangelium of James is disregarded in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the first five chapters are generally accepted concerning Joachim and Anna’s conception of the Virgin Mary.  The hymnody in the Eastern Orthodox Church reflects this acceptance in the Hymns chanted in Church during the Feast days of the Virgin Mary and Joachim and Anna.

Sources:

Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture, New Testament Ia, Matthew 1-13;  The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co;  Holy Bible, NKJV.

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit

Sunday School Advent/Christmas program for Orthodox Christian Youth.

This is a Sunday School Advent/Christmas program that effectively includes all children in the Catechism program of the church, First Grade through Teens.
The purpose of the program is to create anticipation and preparation in awaiting the birth of our Savior during the 40-day Christmas Lenten period. “The Services of Christmas in the Orthodox Church” by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann in the book The Services of Christmas: The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by David Anderson and John Erickson; together with the book, Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home, by Rev. Fr. Anthony Coniaris, inspired the design of this Sunday School program.
Using Fr. Coniaris’ idea of an Advent Wreath in his book, “Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home” and applying appropriate adaptations to his suggestions to turn it into a program for all children to present to the adults of the parish during Advent, the program that was developed was entitled “PREPARING FOR HIS COMING”

Click the following link to view the program detail:  Christmas Advent Program for Orthodox Youth.  

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit

The Hours of the Orthodox Church

Hours of the Orthodox Church:
  1. Vespers Since ancient times, Vespers was scheduled close to the time of the setting sun and has a two-fold purpose:  to end the current day with thanksgiving to God and, to begin the next day with the lighting of the lamps of evening.  It is a service thanking God for His abundant blessing that He has granted to us and His whole creation during the day.  With the setting of the Sun, everything is led to rest.  Psalms 104 and 141 are dedicated to this hour.  
  2. Compline.  After the evening meal and before going to sleep, this service gives glory to our Creator and we thank Him again for His blessings and ask His forgiveness of our sins.  In Greek, the word for sin actually means “to miss the mark”.  We then entrust ourselves to Him and sleep in peace with the knowledge that we are under His protection.
  3. Midnight Service Typically only done in Monasteries or on special feasts of the Orthodox Church.  It is referred to in the New Testament (ACTS 16:25) when in the jail of Philippi where the Apostles Paul and Silas hymned God at midnight.   This hour of prayer has a particular grace, for while everything is silent and at rest, the soul which loves God rises from sleep and together with the heavenly hosts offers praises and thanksgivings to the Lord.
  4. Matins (Orthros) — Fully after Sunrise — it is the prayer of Sunrise.     In this service we offer praises, thanksgivings and petitions to God for the coming of the new day and seek His blessing for the new day.  it is in this service where we hear about the Feasts and/or saints commemorated that day -.  Almost all of the teaching occurs in the Matins service.
  5. First Hour.  For millennia, the hours of the day were reckoned from sunrise.   We would say now that the first hour after sunrise occurs around 7:00 am.  During this hour, we pray and ask God to bless the day at this hour. and to guard us from everything that could harm us in body or soul.  We seek spiritual awakening through the material light through Jesus Christ which is the true light enlightening every man who comes into the world
  6. Third Hour.  This hour corresponds to about 9:00 am.  ACTS 2:16 –It is at the 3rd hour when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles (Pentecost) and all those present illuminating and enlightening them so they could go forward into the world and teach about Christianity.   The Holy Spirit has remained in the Church ever since, guiding and sanctifying it. At this hour we thank God and ask Him to never deprive us of the fruits and graces of the Spirit.
  7. Sixth Hour.  This hour corresponds to 12:00 noon which is when our Lord’s sacrifice began — at Golgotha “the place of the skull”.  Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44. Yes, this is a terrible image, but rejoicing in the infinite love of God, prayers give Him grateful thanks because it was by this that He brought our salvation to us.
  8. Ninth Hour.  This hour corresponds to about 3:00 in the afternoon …Mark 15:34, 37 it is the hour when our Lord’s sacrifice upon the cross ends and He gives up His spirit to the Heavenly Father.

The Divine Liturgy is not considered to be one of the “Hours”.  The Divine Liturgy is when Holy Communion is offered to the faithful.

Today the Divine Liturgy is also called, “The Eucharist” or “Thanksgiving”.  It is the continual celebration of the Last Supper and the re-living of the saving events of Christ’s death and Resurrection.

The Great Entrance marks the beginning of this part of the Liturgy.  The spiritual meaning of the Great Entrance is Christ’s coming into the world to offer Himself as a sacrifice on the cross to save His people from death and the Priest stands as an icon of the Bishop who stands as an icon of the Lord offering Himself for His people.

This is followed with a Litany, the kiss of peace, and the reading of the Creed of Faith.  The Holy Offering (Anaphora) and the Great Eucharistic Prayer  then takes place and are followed with the Litany, Lord’s Prayer and Holy Communion.

The Divine Liturgy then concludes with hymns, prayers and the dismissal.

 

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit

Akathist Hymn Prayers to the Mother of God (Theotokos) and our Lord – intoned byzantine style in English and Greek

The following videos features the intoned Prayers in Byzantine Style to the Mother of God (Theotokos) and our Lord Jesus Christ as heard during Great Lent in the services for Great Compline and the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos according to Greek Orthodox usage. The first video is intoned in English. The second video is intoned in Greek

A source for an English Translation is available at  https://www.goarch.org/-/the-akathist-hymn-and-small-compline

Greek Text with Phonetics is available at this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/txftqjv0mwq63mv/Prayers%20to%20Mother%20of%20God%20and%20The%20Lord_Greek_Phonetics.pdf?dl=0

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

The Christian Symbol of the Fish

The Christian Symbol of the Fish.  The Ichthys

Explanation of the Christian Symbol of the Fish with the Greek lettering inside the image.

In the earliest of Christian times, when Christians were heavily persecuted, the fish symbol came to represent Christianity long before the Cross symbol was in use.   The symbol of the fish was used to identify oneself as a Christian to others, mark burial places of the saints and martyrs and would also indicate the location of where a prayer meeting was held.

There are many different interpretations as to why or how the fish symbol originated, some of which can be traced back to a time long before Jesus Christ came into the world – as far back as the third and fourth century BC with the stories of the mythical Orpheus of Thrace that was described as a fisher of men.  Many other ancient cultures and religions used the symbol of the fish as well to denote various observances.  But, in the case of Christianity, the fish symbol was most likely adopted from the writings of the Apostles which speak of the miracles that Jesus preformed in feeding the multitudes and the calling of the first Apostles, Simon Peter, James and John (Luke 5:1-11, Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20) who were referred to as the “reputed pillars” of the Jewish Christian community in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Gal. 2:1-10).  Most Orthodox Christian theologians also think that the great catch of fish in Luke 5:1-11, Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20, fulfills the prophesy in the Old Testament of Jeremiah 16:16, “…says the Lord….behold ….I will send many fishermen, and they will fish them.”.

The Christian Fish symbol is also aligned with Jesus’ Resurrection and the story of Jonah and the Whale of the Old Testament (Jonah 1:17- 2:10) through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians 15:1-58; and, the Gospels of Matthew (12:38-40) and Luke (11:29-30) (KJV).

IΧΘΥΣ is an acronym for Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ – phonetically pronounced: Isous Christos, Theou Yios, Soter – in English: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.  Some believe the acronym inside the fish started to become popular in the 1970s.  But I believe the existence of the acronym inside the fish was in use long before that time; and, although I cannot find a reference now, I remember as a child seeing the Fish symbol  with the IΧΘΥΣ written inside in documents that dated well before the 1970s, perhaps even as early as the 1950s or before.  At some point, modern culture converted the Greek acronym IΧΘΥΣ written inside the first symbol to simply the English word Jesus and other variations also exist in contemporary society today.

 

References:  Lawrence Farley, The Gospel of Luke, Good News for the Poor, Conciliar Press; Walter Liefeld, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 8; Zondervan; Paul Tarazi, Luke and Acts, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, KJV.

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

 

 

 

 

How an Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross

This is a helpful pictorial aid for religious education and home schools that explains how an Orthodox Christian positions their hand when making the sign of the Cross.

How an Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross

How an Orthodox Christian positions their hand to make the sign of the Cross

How an Orthodox Christian positions their hand when making the sign of the cross.

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

 

Guide to creating a didactic (teaching) Divine Liturgy in your Home School or Parish.

The following is a link to a helpful guide for establishing an Eastern Orthodox Christian  Didactic (teaching) Divine Liturgy in your Home School or Parish:  Didactic (teaching) Divine Liturgy Guide.

The following is also a link to a template that can be used as a handout in your parishes when the teaching Liturgy is conducted:  Template for Didactic Liturgy Handout

Some helpful hints for stylizing the Didactic Divine Liturgy Guide and creating your own document for handout in your Home School or Parish are:

  1. Use the actual Divine Liturgy book your parish has in the pews and insert page numbers and the titles of the Hymns your pew edition uses so the people can readily refer to the page number and hymn names during the teaching Liturgy.
  2. Take pictures of your own Priest during the Liturgy and insert those pictures in the document to be used as a handout.
  3. Take pictures of your own icons, church paraments, liturgical items on the Table of Oblation, etc. and insert those pictures in the document to be used as a handout.
  4. Almost all images and name references used in this document are what is typically used within the Greek Orthodox Christian jurisdictions.  Please feel free to change these images and name references according to your jurisdictional preferences.
All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.