St. Peter Epistle — January 4, 2011

Epiphany Liturgy Tomorrow (January 5, 2011)
The Baptism of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

We have received an invitation from St. Paul’s (get map) to attend the Epiphany Vesperal Liturgy starting at 7pm. It will be followed by a blessing of the waters. As I mentioned on Sunday, the true season of Christmas is the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany.

We see the birth of Christ, and then we see the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. The Gospel readings switch to Mark who shows us in concrete terms that Christ is the conqueror over death and evil, and that by our baptism and the power of the Holy Spirit offered to us through it, we too can face the challenges of life and be victorious.

This is an important Liturgy. Even if we don’t understand it completely we should still attend.

Vassilopita this Sunday
Vasilopita

This Sunday at St Peter’s we will do an abbreviated blessing of the waters and also cut the Vassilopita. Invite your friends to attend. Fr. Hans will have plenty of Holy Water bottles on hand for distribution. Our Vassilopita will look different than the picture, by the way. Thank you to Katina Zarifis who will provide it. Vassilopita translates as “The Bread of St. Basil” and is celebrated at New Year in honor of St. Basil and to ask for God’s blessing in 2011.

Fr. George Pappas — May His Memory Be Eternal
Fr. George Pappas

It is with great sadness that I report that Fr. George Pappas, the retired priest with whom I served for many years in Fort Myers passed away Sunday. Some of you may have known him. Fr. George was a good friend and advisor, a man of generosity and good will. Our condolences are extended to his wife Angeline and his family.

A visitation will be held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Myers on Wednesday, January 5. Visitation begins at 2pm with a Trisagion at 6pm. You can read his obituary here.

May his memory be eternal.

Bible Study Resumes

Bible study begins on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at the home of John and Frieda Hanson, 7500 Treeline Dr., Naples, FL. 34119 (get map). Not only is the study profitable for our souls, but we have great fellowship too. It’s a very open study with much discussion, sharing, and questioning. Often we end up taking another hour just for fellowship.

We invite you to come and if you want bring a friend. You will be welcomed.

Thoughts for the New Year
Fireworks over St. Basil Cathedral in Moscow

This has been a difficult year for many of us. It has also been a year that has brought us closer to Christ, as difficulties tend to do. We should not despise our sufferings the scripture tells us but embrace them. We don’t glorify suffering, but if we bear our suffering in Christ, we receive the strength to endure them and the clarity of mind to understand them, so that as we trek through that particular wilderness we can have hope, perseverance and overcome and prevail.

I’m not sure the coming year will be easier. But I do know that in our faithfulness we have the protection of Christ, and His protection is greater than a strong army. I also know that the spiritual life is a battle, and that we must wage that battle with strength and resolve, and that “Christ being born in us” (as the Apostle Paul says) is a victory much greater than any temporal gain we might otherwise receive.

Christ is our shield, a strong help in time of trouble. And the troubles on day will pass, but we will be stronger because we fought.

A Special Thank you to Our Parishioners

As I look back over the past year I have deep gratitude for the many people who worked so hard and diligently at St. Peter Mission. It’s a sacrifice, but like the scripture says, God is pleased with sacrifices of this kind (St. Paul in the book of Hebrews). I think the goodwill, friendship, support, and even joy we experience comes out of that sacrifice. Thank you and may God bless you all and protect you in this New Year.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Hans