St. Peter Newsletter December 11, 2018

Sunday of the Forefathers (Ancestors) of Christ

Prophet Haggai; Theophania the Empress; Modestos, Archbishop of Jerusalem

The Ancestors of Christ

The Ancestors of Christ

Sermon on the Sunday of the Forefathers

By Fr. Thaddeus Hardenbrook

On the second Sunday before Nativity, the Gospel reading leaves off its progression based on Pentecost and aligns itself with the approaching Nativity. This is a sign for us; a message of urgency regarding what is about to happen. Worries, distractions, and cares must now be set aside for the sake of not missing out on the greatest of the Father’s gifts to us, which is His Son in human flesh. Every other mystical and sacred gift is secondary to the Incarnation.

We have been preparing for the feast by fasting. And now that we have moved past the midpoint of the fast, the pace quickens in anticipation of Christ’s birth. We commemorate the Holy Forefathers who were part of mankind’s preparation for the Messiah. Without them, there would be no God-man, no Christ, for prophecy foretold His birth from their lineage. Therefore their flesh, their prophecies, and their piety prepared the way for the coming of Christ.

Without the Incarnation, there is no salvation as we know it, there is no Cross, there is no Resurrection, there is no partaking in the divine energies of God and no deification. Even paradise and immortality submit to the mystical superiority of the Incarnation. For both paradise and immortality were given to man before the fall. Without the Incarnation, Paradise and eternal life only result in being perfectly and eternally joined to God as His servants.

But when the Father gives His Son to redeem mankind, you and me, redeemed from the curse of the Fall wherein God commanded that “surely you will die,” and His Son deifies human flesh and makes it a communicant with the Holy Trinity through Himself, the second Person of the Trinity, no longer are we called to be servants in His Kingdom, but adopted sons and daughters of God the Father.

“You who are led by the Spirit of God, you are sons of God . . . you have not received the spirit of bondage again but the Spirit of adoption.” (Rom. 8:14)

“Blessed be God, who has given us every spiritual blessing in heaven through Christ, foreordaining us to adoption through Jesus Christ to Himself [the Father].” (Eph. 1:3)

In Great Vespers on Saturday, we praise the glorious men from before and during the Old Covenant Law. We honor Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Samson, Barak, Jephthah, Nathan, Eleazar, Josiah, Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha and all the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, “and all the rest,” especially Daniel and the three holy youths, Zachariah, John the Baptist, and all those who proclaimed Christ.

Likewise, we sing praises to the holy women who were made “strong in the days of old by the might of Your Strength, O Lord: Hannah, Judith, Deborah, Huldah, Jael, Esther, Sarah, Miriam, Rachel, Rebecca, and Ruth.”

Orthodox Christians never forget where we come from. We not only remember that we are from the dust of the earth, but we also remember those who have preceded us, and are joined to us, in piety, and in faith, and in the spiritual struggle. History is chronological, but the Kingdom of God is ever-present, and we commune with all the righteous who were before us and await us. As brothers and sisters in Christ, they are our forefathers too!

The days of preparation for receiving the Incarnation with joy and understanding are drawing to a close. We may come to church on the feast, but if we have not prepared our hearts, we will miss the fullness of what happens there. Everything of value in life is worthy of preparation. Attend services, pray, read, be charitable, love your neighbor, and give gifts of love and devotion.

Source: Pravmir.

 

Missions Presentation in the Social Hall on Sunday, December 23, 2018

Dr. Cheryl Johnson (white jacket) and Cliff Tewis (blue shirt) working in Kenya

Dr. Cheryl Johnson (white jacket) and Cliff Tewis (blue shirt) working in Kenya

Dr. Cheryl Johnson from Annuciation GOC and Cliff Tewis, a pre-med student at Florida Atlantic University and a member of St. Peter’s went to Kenya this summer on a medical mission trip sponsored by Orthodox Christian Missions. You can learn more about their trip here.

On Sunday, December 23 they will offer a short presentation about their trip in the Social Hall following the Divine Liturgy.

Many of us know Dr. Cheryl and Cliff and we welcome their presentation and service to the Orthodox Church in Africa.

For photos of Cliff Tewis in Kenya visit the gallery on the St. Peter website.

 

Christmas Worship Schedule

Icon of the Nativity

  • Sunday December 23, 2018 — Missions Presentation by Dr. Cheryl Johnson and Cliff Tewis
  • Monday, December 24, 2018 — Nativity Royal Hours 9:00am.
  • Monday, December 24, 2018 — Nativity Divine Liturgy 6:00pm.
  • Wednesday, December 26, 2018 — Synaxis of the Theotokos (at St. Paul’s) 9:30am.
  • Thursday, December 27, 2018 — St. Stephen the Martyr Divine Liturgy 6:30pm.

St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr (First Martyr) Divine Liturgy on December 26 at 6:30pm

The Nativity of Christ

St. Stephen was a Jew living in the Hellenic provinces, related to the Apostle Paul and one of the first seven deacons ordained by the Apostles to serve the Church in Jerusalem (thus making him an Archdeacon). In the words of Asterias: St Stephen was “the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed his blood for the Gospel.”

The Holy Spirit worked powerfully through his faith, enabling him to perform many miracles and always defeat those who would dispute with him. The Jews in their hatred of St. Stephen lied about him to the people, but St. Stephen with his face illumined reminded the people of the miracles God had worked through him and even rebuked the Jews for killing the innocent Christ.

The people were enraged by what they thought was blasphemy and ‘gnashed their teeth’ at Stephen. It was then that he saw his Christ in the heavens and declared it so. Hearing this, they took him outside the city and stoned him to death, with his kinsman Saul (later St. Paul) holding their coats while they did it. Afar off on a hill was the Virgin Mary and St. John the Theologian who witnessed this first martyrdom for the Son of God and prayed for him while he was being stoned. This occurred about a year after the first Pentecost.

Source: OrthodoxWiki.

Christmas Fast Continues

The Nativity Fast is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year. This is a joyous fast in anticipation of the Nativity of Christ. That is the reason it is less strict than other fasting periods. The fast is divided into two periods. The 1st period is November 15th through December 19th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Similarly, fish, wine, and oil are permitted on Saturdays and Sundays.

The 2nd period is December 20th through 24th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil only on Saturday and Sunday during this period.

Fasting always works in conjuction with prayer and giving alms (helping the poor, giving to worthy charities, etc.). Fasting helps us reorder the interior life, but the reordering does not occur with greater prayer and greater concern for the poor.

The reordering is a clarification — we end up seeing things more clearly, we get stronger in the fight against sin and temptation. The fast always ends on a great Feast Day of our Lord.

For a complete list, visit the Antiochian website or click on the image below:

 

Interfaith Charities Still Needs Soups

Support Interfaith Charities

Interfaith Charities, the local assembly of churches that helps the poor in our area, needs soups.

Publix is running a two for one on soups this week. Buy some and give double!

If you bring to the church, we will get them to Interfaith Charities.

 

Calendar At A Glance

  • Sunday December 23, 2018 — Missions Presentation by Dr. Cheryl Johnson and Cliff Tewis
  • Monday, December 24, 2018 — Nativity Royal Hours 9:00am.
  • Monday, December 24, 2018 — Nativity Divine Liturgy 6:00pm.
  • Wednesday, December 26, 2018 — Synaxis of the Theotokos (at St. Paul’s) 9:30am.
  • Thursday, December 27, 2018 — St. Stephen the Martyr Divine Liturgy 6:30pm.

Wisdom From The Elders

True fasting lies is rejecting evil, holding one’s tongue, suppressing one’s hatred, and banishing one’s lust, evil words, lying, and betrayal of vows. St. Basil the Great

Do not spare yourself, but pray earnestly, even if you have been toiling all day. Do not be negligent in holy prayer; say it to God unto the end from your whole heart, for it is a duty you owe to God. Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt

In the first place, do not talk yourself when you are agitated, in malice. In the second place, forgive those who are hot tempered and irritated, when they pour forth abuse and reproaches, either just or unjust. Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt

Everything we do, our every objective, must be undertaken for the sake of… purity of heart… we must practice the reading of the Scripture, together with all the other virtuous activities… to hold our hearts free of the harm of every dangerous passion and in order to rise step by step to the high point of love. St. John Cassian

Our soul is simple, as the image and likeness of God; therefore, when it is well-regulated and is living in accordance with the will of God, then it is peaceful, easy, and joyous; whilst, on the contrary, when it consents to sin, commits sin, or is forced into sin by the Enemy, then it becomes disturbed, darkened, and heavy. Thus, always do the will of God, and you will be simple and quiet; but if you sin you will have no peace. Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt

Remember in Your Prayers

Helen (Rogers)
Doug Spencer
Kathy Spencer
Kathy D
Andreas
Sofia Tešanovic
Paul
Dennis H. and Family
Victor Evan
Ann
James
Vasiliki
Efstratia
Alexandra
Nikos
Georgia
Ioannis
Costandino
Jeffrey
Vaso
Dave
Dimitri – Presbyter
Vassiliki
Octavio
Tom
Carl
Rena
Nikolay (5 year old boy in Bulgaria whose parents asked us to pray)
David
Eva K.
Rosie
Kathryn
Jeremy

Constantine
Robert
Jane
Theodora
David
Gina
Micheal
Haralambos
Lillian
Presbytera Rosy
Valentina
Eva W.
Barbara
Angela
Carol Ann
Matthew
Chrysostom
Tim
Pat
Christina
Maria Louise
Maximos
Marian
Photini
Nicholas
Sarah
Petronia (Wife of Phil Pappas)
Constantine Houpis
Anna Marie Smith Baker
Ron Chromulak
Beverly Chromulak
Katerina
Mary Kassis
Baby Maximus
Christine
Maria
Annette Star
Claire Livaditis
Eva Chandilles
Baby Dani
Scott Nedoff
James Hord
Tom

How should we pray for the sick? Remember them daily. Say their names (first names are sufficient) and ask God to bestow mercy and grace on them.

Add or remove names and print this list for easy reference during your prayer time on the St. Peter website.

 

Sunday Readings

Christ Giving Blessing

Epistle

For the Holy Forefathers

Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our Fathers.
For Thou art just in all that Thou hast done for us.

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians. (3:4-11)

Brethren, when Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.

Gospel

For the Holy Forefathers

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. (14:16-24)

The Lord spoke this parable: “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ But, one by one, they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

St. Peter Orthodox Church