St. Peter Newsletter – June 22, 2012

We Do What We Can, But When We Do It for Each Other a Lot Gets Done

The response to help Yianni and Lucia help pack up their restaurant was good. A lot got done Thursday and they are very appreciative for the help. Those who came could, and it helped lighten Yianni and Lucia’s load.

We do what we can, but when enough of us do it, tangible good is the result. Not everyone could help of course, and that is understandable. Work, family, and other obligations all keep us busy. But those of us who could help did help, and so the commandment of Christ was kept and the people who needed our help received it.

That is how it works in the Church. St. Paul says we all have different gifts. Our job is to define what they are and then apply them in ways that build up the Body of Christ — the Church. In an “Intentional Church” (my term) we focus those abilities and gifts in ways that help one another. We are deliberate in what we support (such as Michael Pagedas’ missionary work) and count the cost before we commit ourselves to any work so that it is fruitful and lasting.

In the early Church the believers were known for their love towards each other. Keep in mind that the larger culture was very hostile to Christians and what they believed. Our society is facing that more and more although it is still far from what the early Christians faced.

Christ lives among us, and He calls us together. That is what the term “Church” means in Greek — the “ekklesia” or the “ones called out.” The Church then really begins in the heart and we respond to the call to worship God in the community of believers. That’s what we do every Sunday when we come together for Divine Liturgy. There we meet Christ and He meets us in a very special way because He imparts to us His life — His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.

But this has value only when we first love one another. When we go out of our way to help each other according to our abilities and gifts. We saw this yesterday and all of us — even those of us who were obligated to other things — can take encouragement from it.

Don’t Forget: St. Peter and Paul Barbecue on Sunday, July 8, 2012. Please bring a desert item.

Sts. Peter and Paul

Don’t forget the shared celebration with our St. Paul’s, our sister parish, on Sunday, July 8 at 11:30 (get map). We will start Divine Liturgy promptly at 9:30 so that we can make to to St. Paul’s on time. Each attendee is asked to bring a desert item or make a free will donation to cover expenses. We will know in a few weeks what kind of food we should bring.

If you plan to attend, please mention it to Mary Copeland ((239-498-1331 or willmarcope@aol.com) so that St. Paul’s knows how many people to prepare for.

Sunday Scripture Readings

Epistle

Romans 13:11 – 14:5 (Third Sunday After Pentecost and the Nativity of the Holy Forerunner John the Baptist)

Ancient Cover for the Bible

Brethren, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for God is able to make him stand.

Gospel

Luke 1:1-25; 57-68; 76; 80 (St. John)

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.

Icon depicting the Nativity of John the Baptist

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zachariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the alter of incense. And Zachariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zachariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

And Zachariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zachariah and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, “Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zachariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

And his father Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, and the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.”