St. Peter Newsletter – December 20, 2012

Christmas Eve Liturgy on December 24, 2012

nativity-200We will celebrate Christmas Liturgy on December 24 (Christmas Eve) with our sister parish St. Paul Antiochian Church (get map). Orthros/Matins begins at 6:30pm and Divine Liturgy at 7:30pm.

Make sure to come. The only way to properly understand Christmas is to enter into the presence of Him who was born on that important day over 2,000 years ago. The Divine Liturgy gives us that. Prepare for the day by fasting (eat light and nothing after lunch, or skip lunch altogether if you can do it) to pray and receive the life of the Savior who was born through the Holy Eucharist.

Remember too that Christ entered a world that was gravely troubled and spiritually exhausted — somewhat likes ours but probably worse. We can find peace in Him, just as his disciples did. And, in seeking Him, we can find the way to live our lives properly, with the meaning, purpose, faith, hope and love in the ways that God intended that we should live.

On the Shootings at Sandy Hook

Extreme HumilitySome might find this inappropriate to mention in a parish newsletter, but after our discussion on Sunday I think I will take that risk. I mentioned then that it is almost impossible to know who to think about the tragedy. How do we make sense of it?

I don’t have an answer for that yet but I do see something very important that we need to remember: Treat one another with dignity and respect. This does not mean we close our eyes to real problems and circumstances, but that we deal with everyone with moral clarity and sound judgment. This imparts a measure of truth that fosters stability because your words and actions commend themselves to the conscience of the other person, and his to yours. When this happens people see things more clearly.

Moral confusion creates division and estrangement. Estrangement is the curse of a morally relativistic age (everyone decides for himself what is right and wrong). People become separated from each other and enter a life of loneliness where they hear only themselves and forget the joy of authentic friendship and fellowship with other people.

Christ came to save us. That means that God is social and magnanimous. He gives freely and so should we. We must live our lives looking to add some color, joy, and hope to everyone we meet, even if it is only a tiny measure.

These small gifts that we give to others and others to us add up; they remind us that life is a gift and that being able to help someone along on his journey is itself a gift from God. It makes life meaningful and reveals the deeper purposes for which we were created.

Much analysis can be made about the Sandy Hook tragedy and it is necessary that we understand it the best we can. But analysis alone won’t soften the pain, confusion and the other outflow of the shootings. Only the authentic expression of warmth, caring, generosity, and the other virtues that are directed by the commandment to love one’s neighbor can do that. That is how the hard edges of the hardships of life are softened, how despair is transformed into hope, and how the mundane is made holy.

Be grateful to God for the people in your life. Take care of them in ways appropriate to the relationship you have with them. Remember that God is always good to us, even when it seems like He is far away (He is never far away, not really, even though it may seem that way sometimes). And because He is good to us, we must be good to one another.

May God comfort the families that grieve this Christmas over the loss of their children, may he have mercy on the souls of those that died and on the soul of the young man who took their lives.

Thank you to Zanos Grekos and Mary Copeland

Thank you to Zanos Grekos for hosting our First Annual Christmas Pot Luck last Wednesday. What a delightful evening it was.

Thank you also to Mary Copeland for organizing the St. Peter Christmas card. It was beautiful work.

Sunday Scripture Readings

Epistle

Hebrews 11:9-10; 17:23, 32-40 (Sunday Before Nativity of Christ)

Blessed are you, O Lord, God of our Fathers.
For you are just in all you have done.

The reading is St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews

bibleBRETHREN, by faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment.

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated – of whom the world was not worthy, wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Gospel

Matthew 1:1-25 (Sunday Before Nativity of Christ)

The Reading of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram and Aram the father of Ammin’adab, and Ammin’adab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Bo’az by Rahab, and Bo’az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uri’ah, and Solomon the father of Rehobo’am, and Rehobo’am the father of Abi’jah, and Abi’jah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehosh’aphat, and Jehosh’aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi’ah, and Uzzi’ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezeki’ah, and Hezeki’ah the father of Manas’seh, and Manas’seh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josi’ah, and Josi’ah the father of Jechoni’ah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation of Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoni’ah was the father of Sheal’ti-el, and Sheal’ti-el the father of Zerub’babel, and Zerub’babel the father of Abi’ud, and Abi’ud the father of Eli’akim and Eli’akim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zakod the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli’ud, and Eli’ud the father of Elea’zar, and Elea’zar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman’u-el” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.