We are an inclusive Orthodox Christian community. Our worship services conform to the theology of the Slavonic (Russian) typicon. We are not a local Church in Hayward but a small Orthodox metokian skete, dedicated to worship, study, and service to Orthodox and Catholic Christians from any historic jurisdiction in the greater San Francisco bay area. We also have a unique (among Orthodox Christian communities) focus in service of the marginalized, including the LGBT community as well as their welcoming non-LGBT friends.
We are under the omophorion of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Nestor.
The large Orthodox and Catholic jurisdictions continue to publicly humiliate LGBT folks with declarations like: “homosexuality is intrinsically disordered.” This attitude is so prominent that some LGBT folks assume that our Russian jurisdiction must be homophobic, judgmental and concerned all about sex as these jurisdictions seem to be. Very seldom do clergy talk about knives which can be used for good or for evil. We think the same way about sex so we seldom discuss it. Some of the best advice about sex might be found in Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, appropriately enough to be found on page 69:
Those members of our community, as well as any visitors, who are still catechumens (learners), are welcome to approach and kiss the Holy Chalice, the cross, and the priest's hand. We also welcome those who are prepared to receive Holy Communion, have been Chrismated in their own Orthodox jurisdiction.
Beginning in 1980, Axios, an organization of Eastern & Near Eastern Orthodox, and Byzantine & Eastern-rite Catholic Gay & Lesbian lay Christians was founded in Beverly Hills California. They did not include Roman Catholics at that time because the LGBT Roman Catholics already had their own support group called Dignity which had been founded earlier in San Diego, California.
Details about the history of Axios.org can be found on the Axios website. Axios marched in Pride celebrations for five years until two anti-catholic members insisted on ousting the two Eastern-Rite Catholics from the group. Axios, following its charter, voted unanimously (except for the 2) to uphold their membership. The two disgruntled members sent the Axios mailing-list to the OCA bishop in San Francisco. California membership has been mostly underground ever since. Anyone interested in working with Axios may contact them directly.
While Catholic and Orthodox Church hierarchy still continues to see each other as schismatics of sorts and argue over authority, the overwhelming majority of LGBT Orthodox and Catholic lay people, I have met, perceive each other to be in cultural jurisdictions of the one Church established at Pentecost with valid and effective sacraments. Therefore, our Saint Seraphim community, serving the San Francisco bay area of California, in solidarity with all LGBT Orthodox and Catholics, welcome each other to pray and commune with us.
We celebrate Divine Liturgy, as a community, almost every Sunday morning at 10 AM in our Saint Seraphim skete chapel in the hills of downtown Hayward, CA 94541. Our Saint Seraphim phone line for messages is (510) 856-3611. Please phone ahead for directions and to make certain we are not out of town that Sunday. If you enjoy singing Russian chant in English, please do ask about singing with us. We enjoy hearing from anyone who is interested in our work.
In the Gospel reading today (Luke 10:25-37), a lawyer questioned Our Lord about what was needed to “inherit eternal life”. Jesus' response was to ask the lawyer what the law required and his take on it. “So he answered and said, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.' And He said to him, 'You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.'” The next question from the lawyer was “Who is my neighbor?”
Our Lord then told the wonderful story of the Good Samaritan. This parable was unusual because it made a member of a hated and despised minority the hero of the story. A severely wounded man attacked by bandits and left on a road to die was ignored by a passing priest and a Levite but was cared for by a Samaritan. The Samaritan not only tended to his wounds but brought him to an inn to continue ministering to him.
There are a few points for us to reflect on in today's Gospel.
The love of God and the love of others is what will grant us eternal life. As Paul tells us
Love of God- 1 Corinthians 2:9, “However, as it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived'—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.”
Love of Neighbor- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
No Favoritism- Jesus use of a member of the Jews' hated and despised minority shows us that God plays no favorites among His children. “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11
So let us pray today for the grace to love God and His children more dearly. God bless you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.