The Borders of the Grace of God

Today, walking and weaving our way through the streets of Old Jerusalem, shops on each side of the alley, the smells of a rich mixture of spices and a thousand other things, shop-keepers calling with eagerness to the “foreigners” passing by – we were on a free morning, and there were gifts to be found.

We came across another pilgrim, separate from our group, who took us to a greater gift. In the environs of the Holy Sepulchre Church, there are two small chapels that are used for the local Arab Christian congregation. That chapel’s treasure is quietly situated in a corner of the rear of the Church. No sign announces its presence. It is an icon of the Mother of God – indeed – the icon which hung at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that spoke to St. Mary of Egypt, when, as a young harlot, she was unable to cross the threshhold of the Church. That moment led to her conversion and her immediate entrance into the trans-Jordan desert.

Everything here, things that have filled the stories of Scripture and the lives of the saints who have populated this area, are amazingly proximate. Nothing is a terribly great distance. The desert is only a hill away from Jerusalem.

But winding through alley ways and shops, we found the Icon of the Mother of God through which God showed mercy on Mary of Egypt. It stood at the border of the grace of God. God’s grace, of course, has no border, except the stoney heart that refuses Him hospitality. But He knocks on that stoney door with great persistence.

I knelt before the icon and prayed for our stoney hearts – the many places in our lives that have created borders for grace. St. Mary of Egypt pray to God for us!

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.





15 responses to “The Borders of the Grace of God”

  1. Carl Avatar

    Whoah. That icon is at least 1600 years old! And it’s in ordinary parish church! What a rich history to have in one’s midst.

  2. Mary Gail Avatar
    Mary Gail

    Stunning entry Father. Mary of Egypt is my patron saint.

  3. Gail Hyatt Avatar

    Fr. Stephen,
    Were you able to get a photograph of the icon?
    What an amazing “treasure hunt” you are on.
    I wonder what treasures you’ll discover today.
    All of life is a treasure hunt when we walk with Christ.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Gail Hyatt

  4. Hartmut Avatar

    Again, father, I am moved. I would also like to see this icon.
    St. Mary of Aegypt is my refuge every day and a faithful intercessor, whom I trust very much.

    Thank you for sharing so many of your expierences there in the Holy Land!
    I feel blessed and strengthens by reading it.


  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    I have many pictures to share, but my harddrive is fried and I’m using something else – meaning it will be next week before I can post many photos.

  6. Margaret Avatar

    This is such a blessing and an encouragement! Thank you for posting these few words, they were what I needed to see/hear! May God continually bless your voyage!

  7. Seraphim Avatar

    Fr. Stephen,
    My mom and I plan to go to Israel in Nov. I was wondering if you know of any good shops in Jerusalem to buy icons. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  8. fatherstephen Avatar

    Do you want antiques or new? There is a shop just outside the Holy Sepulchre. As you leave the Holy Sepulchre go out the courtyard to the right. It is called The Holy Sepulchre Shop. They are fair. Never pay the first price asked almost anywhere. May God bless you pilgrimage.

  9. Seraphim Avatar

    Thanks Fr. Stephen!

  10. Diakrisis Avatar

    Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

  11. shevaberakhot Avatar


    The Antichrist is defined as he or she who does not believe that Jesus is the Christ. 1 John 2:22-23

    We, who are born of the eternal Spirit have received power to become sons and daughters of God, to inherit the Kingdom, and to cast out all manner of demons including the prince of darkness himself.


  12. Diakrisis Logismon Avatar

    Fr. Stephen, evlogeite!

    I look forward to seeing this Icon of the Mother of God, before whom
    St. Mary of Egypt vowed, to never look back to this fleeting and quickly passing “age”.


  13. logismon Avatar

    Dear Father, Do you have this Icon available — soon ? Forgive me for my anticipation +

  14. […] time ran out, so all I have is a coloring page with a little text adapted from a post on Fr. Stephen Freeman’s blog.  The life of St. Mary of Egypt is so amazing, and could be done in church school in several ways. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to blog via email

Support the work

Your generous support for Glory to God for All Things will help maintain and expand the work of Fr. Stephen. This ministry continues to grow and your help is important. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Latest Comments

  1. Matthew, you asked: “If grace is everywhere present filling all things, then why do we also need the explicit mysteries…

  2. Matthew, I wanted to reiterate what Father said about avoiding the Gnostic heresy which treated the material creation as evil.…

Read my books

Everywhere Present by Stephen Freeman

Listen to my podcast