WCM: Long story short, for the past fifteen years I have served as the pastor of an Eastern Orthodox Christian parish in Charlotte, NC. Like many parishes we’ve had our ups and downs and thankfully we’ve experienced more ups recently.
My Church School curriculum focused on the Divine Liturgy, lives of the saints, and some Church History, but very little about the Bible. Our family had a leather King James Bible on our living room coffee table but I never read it.
At St. Vladimir’s Seminary I was blessed to have Fr. John Breck and Fr. Paul Tarazi who instilled in me the love of the Scriptures. While both have different backgrounds and personalities, they taught me the centrality of the Bible for preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. I am extremely grateful to have had them as my teachers and I think of them often, especially as I’m preparing sermons.
I am also grateful to Dr. Nicolae Roddy, professor of Old Testament at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska whom I met after my seminary studies. Nicolae opened my horizons to the religious, cultural, and social world of the Bible. In addition to his teaching, Nicolae is also an archaeologist who leads an annual dig at Bethsaida in Galilee.
AD: What led to the writing of this book, Come Follow Me, in particular?
WCM: Early on in pastoral ministry I realized that I needed to dig deep into the Bible. My sermons, adult education classes, catechism classes, and teaching involved Scripture and therefore I needed to really study the Bible so I knew what I was talking about! It also dawned on me that all of our prayers, hymns, liturgical seasons and cycles, and Divine Liturgy are rooted in the Scriptures too.
My earlier books, From Pascha to Pentecost: Reflections on the Gospel of John, followed by Prepare O Bethlehem and my other lectionary commentaries flowed from this deep desire to understand the biblical text. These books were followed by a A 30 Day Retreat: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Renewal, Encountering Jesus in the Gospels, as well as Walking with God, among others. Come Follow Me is a result of many years of preaching, teaching, and praying the biblical text, and quite frankly, even after all these years I still have so much more to learn.
AD: How did you decide on these particular biblical texts as ones to comment on? Is there a theme that links them or a rationale for bringing them all together?