Priest runs out of sermons on Gadarene demoniac

Unable to cope with the appearance of the Gadarene demoniac seven different Sundays on the Orthodox lectionary, Father Julian Thorton of the Orthodox Church of All Saints of Northern South Carolina ran out of sermons this past Sunday.

“There’s only so many variations you can have on ‘we want God on our terms.’ I’ve done sermons about the differences between the synoptic Gospels’ versions of it, and even one on how the demoniac’s ability to break chains is a metaphor for our own sins, and now I’m completely out of ideas,” Fr. Julian complained before liturgy. “Not another swine Sunday!”

At the sermon, Fr. Julian decided to wing it, beginning, “Today’s gospel reading is eight verses long. Really, it is. How do we know this? Because the sentences are numbered. Did Jesus use those numbers when He spoke to the Apostles? We do not know, but some Biblical scholars believe He did. How are we to interpret such claims? Allow us to explore…”

Priest, parishioner at odds over overly specific confessions

Parish priest Theodosius Rydell was recently accused of getting inspired to write a sermon from the confession of one of his parishioners, a charge which he denies.

“On Saturday, I confessed to eating a cream-cheese bagel on a Friday after doing so well for months and how I was so proud of what a good faster I was,” whispered parishioner Alexander Gatton during coffee hour. “And then your sermon the next day was about how fasting is supposed to make people humble, not proud.”

Father Theodosius replied back, also in a whisper: “I write my sermons on Thursday, really, I do. And sometimes someone makes a confession on the same topic. But for your matter, it would help if you’d stop being so darned specific in your confessions.” He continued, his voice getting a little louder. “If someone confessed to me that they’d gone to a really good vegan Thai buffet on a Friday and overate, I’d be like, ‘wait, where is this place?’”

Three other parishioners nearby only heard the words “vegan Thai buffet,” from this conversation and immediately asked, “Wait, where is this place?”

Soon smartphones came out and it was discovered that the city had one very well-reviewed vegan Thai buffet, and trips were planned. Over the next few weeks, Fr. Theodosius smacked his forehead several times upon hearing “Vegan Thai buffet” during parishioners’ confessions.

Inquirer family too cute for liturgy

Prayer ground to a halt on Sunday at the Church of All Saints of Southern North Carolina after the arrival of a new inquirer family who was entirely too cute for liturgy.


Parents Jack and Anna Smith, 42 and 40, arrived with their children, Tony, 17, Alexa, 15, Allie, 7, and crawling toddler Sammie, 11 months, and distraction immediately began.

The problem wasn’t that their clothing was inappropriate, parishioners said, rather it was the opposite. Barsanuphius Olson, 18, noticed Alexa’s long, printed skirt, mild-colored but well-matched blouse, and earrings that hung down like chandeliers immediately and began thinking of conversation starters. Olson, who is single, said, “After 15 minutes in church, she noticed most of the other women were wearing head scarves, so she went over the scarf basket to borrow one. When she did that, I wanted to propose marriage, but I knew I had to wait until coffee hour.”

Church grannie Natasha Klakhina tilted her head to the left and got stuck saying “awwww” for 10 minutes straight when she saw Sammie crawl quickly across the church. “He crawls like a little bunny rabbit,” she said, noticing that he pushes on both knees at the same time to go forward.

After Allie picked up Sammie and the two of them stood together quietly for the next 20 minutes, church mother Thekla Baker was distracted by jealousy, wondering why her five children, who’d been going to church for years, had to shriek and fight through the services.

When later interviewed, Sammie’s goos and gahs were translated to mean “Orthodox churches are great places to crawl because there aren’t pews in the way!”

Ksenia Anderson, 38, tried to maintain her concentration through the service until just before the Great Entrance, she could not concentrate. She went out to the lobby to call her teenaged daughter, and was heard shouting in to her cell phone, “Get up and come to church in time for coffee hour! I don’t care how late you stayed up last night – there’s this really cute boy here and you have to meet him!”

Nicholas Thompson immediately noticed that Anna had brought a dish for the potluck in to the church, and that it was still hot and wafting succulent smells across the sanctuary. Thompson said he’s usually grumpy about fasting, but this just made it worse. The Smiths live only five minutes from church, so they decided to bring the chicken, sausage and cheese casserole straight from the oven. When later asked, Anna said that she noticed on the church Web site that it was a potluck day, but wasn’t aware that it was a fasting Sunday for Orthodox people, nor that you were supposed to take food dishes directly to the fellowship hall.

The church rector, Fr. Theodosius Davidson, said he noticed all the distracted parishioners. He was starting to get annoyed with then until he noticed that Jack was wearing a collared shirt that said “I ♥ to fix things,” and he had a tape measure on his belt. Fr. Theodosius then looked out the church window to see that the Smith’s truck had “Heating, plumbing, electrical” printed on the side of it. “As I was reading the litanies, all I could think of were repair projects needed on the church,” Fr. Theodosius said.

The only member of the parish not distracted by their arrival was choir director Lidia Lesh. She did, however, notice the voice of someone in the nave singing the bass part of “Lord, Have Mercy” correctly and on key, and wondered who it was until Tony Smith came over and asked if he could join the choir.

Priest’s social media become war after mild political joke

It started when Fr. Andrei posted, “I don’t understand why Trump is so paranoid when people criticize his legitimacy. If he and Pence would just go out to dinner, then he’d have a real government mandate.”

After posting one joke on his social media account and turning off the computer to go to bed, Fr. Andrei Fremantle’s page suddenly became a war zone.

Charles Chainsaw, a parishioner at the Church of All Saints of Southern North Dakota, disapproved heavily of the joke, commenting that he expected priests to be apolitical unless they agree with him. He then followed up the post with several memes denouncing the fake news media.

Parish progressive Wendy Winsome immediately responded with numerous links to sites intended to “educate” Chainsaw, who replied with more, harsher memes. Several other parishioners attempted to defuse the conflict by posting pictures of kittens playing with balls of string. Another suggested a compromise that all could agree that the original pun was terrible and they should all go to bed.

But the war zone continued getting worse until Winsome accused Chainsaw of promoting racism, sexism and botulism and Chainsaw responding by saying that if she called him alt-right again, he’d ctrl-alt-delete her. By the next morning when Fr. Andrei woke up, the original post had collected 94 comments, and assigned both combatants a penance of going to bed by 10 p.m. each night for the next week.

Sheet-Music Literalist Demands Hymn be Sung Exactly as Printed

Choir practice at the Orthodox Church of All Saints of Southern North Carolina was interrupted on Saturday by a choir member demanding that hymns be sung exactly as they are printed on the sheet music, but choir director John Wasilko wasn’t having it.

“It’s chant music,” he explained. “Just because each syllable has a quarter note above it doesn’t mean you sing it like train cars going over a joint in the tracks. We stretch some of them out a bit!”

“But that’s not what’s on the page!” complained Antonina Thompson, who has been a member of the Orthodox Church for one year after leaving the Strict Literal Infallible Inerrant Word of Bible Scripture Church. “If you want it sung that way, you have to change the notes on the sheet music.” Previously, Thompson had also objected to the choir director’s habit of stretching out whole notes when the altar servers were taking longer than expected to bring the candles out at the Little Entrance.

“I love the Orthodox Church and its teachings of mystery and things about God being unknowable and unmeasurable. I couldn’t deal with all that strictness and literalism back at my old church,” she said during a brief break in choir practice, after which she shouted at the choir director, “But that’s not what’s on the page!”

Parish to observe Fourth of July on Old Calendar

Dear Parish Members,

As I’m sure you know, the Fourth of July always falls during the Apostles’ Fast for those of us who observe the Old Style Calendar. Bishop Vladikos made it clear at this year’s clergy retreat that he has gotten tired of getting requests for dispensations for eating meat and whooping it up on the Fourth of July. In the past, he had allowed it to be a wine and oil day, but, he said, “Your parishioners have turned it into a whine and oil day with all their complaining!” and His Grace put the kibosh on even that dispensation.

This year the Church of All Saints of Southern North Carolina will observe the Fourth of July on the Old Calendar. We believe this will provide everyone with the opportunity to both observe the fast and appreciate this great American holiday. While it is true that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4 in Philadelphia, it was not until the eve of July 17 that news reached our beloved county here in Southern North Carolina.

We have invited our friends from St. Barsanuphius Church to the feast. We should be careful not to try convincing them to switch back to the Old Calendar since, after all, we buy their used Christmas decorations for a very low price every year.

This year, we are delighted to announce that veggie dogs marinated in olive oil and white wine will not be on the menu.

Also, we are delighted that we can roast marshmallows with actual milk chocolate this year. Please, however, do not publish any photographs of the marshmallows on the Web site as Bishop Vladikos has been doubtful of their appropriateness at previous picnics – he says they’re certainly Lenten, but he doesn’t think they’re food.

We will enforce a couple of rules strictly:

Contrary to what you may have heard, there will be no tofu toss.

Any and all fireworks involving Batushka’s censer are still forbidden.

Sincerely,

Vladimir Smith, Parish Council President