Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This weekend we focus on the Samaritan woman, or the woman at the well, as she is often referred to. You will recall the story: the woman (who we know as Photine, or Photini. Photios is the masculine version.) was a person who had made some debatable life choices. She was an object of scorn to many in the town where she lived. And then she met Christ.

We have more in common with Photini than we might imagine. In our world, almost everybody feels alone or alienated from time to time. Sometimes, like Photini, it is because of things we may have done or said that cause us to feel shame. Sometimes we find ourselves estranged from friends and family. And sometimes we simply feel isolated and alone, although we may not be able to understand why. Regardless of the reason, being in such a state separates us from God, and from the Church itself. It is a dark and spiritually deadly condition.

Yet, even at those times, and maybe especially at those times, Christ is ready to meet us, to reveal to us our secret thoughts, and to guide us back into the light. He desires to meet us, just as He did Photini.

To me, I have always believed that her name was not coincidental. Photini means "light", and that name is found in almost every language on earth. In Celtic she is Fiona; in Arabic, Fatima; in Russian, Svetlana; in French, Claire, to name just a few. We find her around the world, and sometimes in our own homes. The universal use of the word "light" as a name shows us a common yearning for the Light. For in the Light, darkness is driven out, we are revealed as the children of the Kingdom, and we are made whole.

1. The coming week: On Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m., we will serve Great Vespers, and then hear more about Photini -- and Fiona, Svetlana, Fatima and Claire -- at Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. On Wednesday evening, we will have a molieben for the sick and the suffering at 6:00 p.m., followed by Inquirers Class at 6:30 p.m.

2. Missions: On Friday evening, June 21, and Saturday, June 22, we will have a symposium of sorts regarding missions. As a mission ourselves we know that this is one of the primary reasons for our very existence. This is being put together by Subdeacon Maximus. I will be there, and I hope you will be as well.

3. An opportunity for Youth: Thus year, two camps for children are coming to our area. St. Sophia's Young Women's Retreat will be from June 16 through June 22, while St. Seraphim's Young Men's Retreat will be from June 23 to June 29. These are a project of St. John the Wonderworker Church (OCA) in Atlanta, but they will be held in our area, at White Water Express/Ocoee Camp, in Copperhill. Each camp will include activities and service projects. We are so far away from Camp Nazareth that it is extremely difficult for our children to go there. This is an opportunity here at home, and I urge our families to consider it strongly. More information will be available in the coffee hour room, or contact me and I will email you a copy of the brochures.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day, but before that I hope to see you all!

In Christ,

Fr. James