Sunday of the Forefathers (Ancestors) of Christ
Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths Ananias, Azarias and Mishael; Dionysios of Zakynthos, the wonderworker; New Martyrs Paisios the hieromonk and his disciple Habakkuk the deacon of Belgrade
The Forefathers of Christ
Sermon on the Sunday Before Nativity (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.
Living the Orthodox Faith Class Continues Wednesday, December 13 at 7:00pm
“Living the Orthodox Faith” will look at why our Church does things the way it does, and how to do it properly. We will learn about the sign up the cross, how to enter the Church properly (candles and veneration), how to make a home altar, and more. This is a very practical class, not theological as much as how to live the Orthodox life as an Orthodox Christian.
Can’t make the class? Join in on Facebook Live! You can also view last week’s class too.
Topic for this week: The Seasons of the Church and How it Orders our Life
Starting next week classes will be suspended during the Nativity and Theophany Season and resume in early January.
Thank you to Everyone Contributing to the St. Nicholas Celebration
The evening was a success due to the work of everyone who made it happen. It is important that we teach our children about our faith because their faith, especially how to live it and find God through it, is the only thing standing between them and a soul crushing secularism in the world around them.
These events are important because God is real and so are the Saints. If we don’t teach them this however, who will?
That is why it is important to bring your kids to church and why we must work for our church and support it. Increasingly the church is becoming the only island of sanity and stability in an increasing fragmenting world.
Christmas Season Food Drive for NAMI Continues
Every Christmas season St. Peter’s runs a food drive for NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness)serving local people in need. NAMI helps people with serious and persistent mental illnesses, as well as their parents, children, spouses, siblings and friends.
St. Peter’s has contributed to NAMI emergency food bank care for six years. Donations go to the Sarah Ann Drop In Center in Naples, FL. Three categories of items are needed:
- Canned and dry goods
- Toiletry articles (The small hotel type items work very well)
- Diabetic foods
Bring them to church and we will get them to NAMI. The drive will run through Christmas.
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:
Calendar At A Glance
- Wednesday, December 13, 2017 7:00pm. Living the Orthodox Faith Class
Nativity (Christmas) Worship Schedule
- Tuesday, December 19, 2017 6:30pm Divine Liturgy St. Ignatius of Antioch
- Friday, December 22, 2017 9:00am. Nativity Royal Hours
- Sunday, December 24, 2017 8:30am/9:30am. Orthros and Divine Liturgy
- Sunday, December 24, 2017 7:00pm. Great Vespers of Nativity
- Monday, December 25, 2017 8:30am/9:30am. Festal Orthros and Festal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
- Tuesday, December 26, 2017 6:30pm. Divine Liturgy St. Stephanos the First Martyr
- Monday, January 1, 2018 6:30pm Divine Liturgy St. Basil the Great and Circumcision of Christ
Theophany (Baptism of Christ) Worship Schedule
- Friday, January 5, 2018 9:00am/10:00am. Royal Hours and Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil
- Saturday, January 6, 2018 9:00am/10:15am. Divine Liturgy and Blessing of the Waters
Why More Liturgies?
Because we are Orthodox, and the entire Orthodox Christian life begins with the worship of God. In worship we find the well of living water that nourishes our soul and gives us life, and that we take into every corner of our lives outside of the Church.
Another reason is that when we honor the Saints we invite them to be present with us.
Wisdom From The Elders
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
He who abandons prayer abandons his salvation; he who is careless about prayer is careless about his salvation; he who quits prayer renounces his salvation.
St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
But being part of Christian Church life is only possible for a loving heart which is capable of casting off sinful selfishness and which cherishes the only God of love and defies cold and soulless idols of the world.
Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)
Whoever justifies his fall, justifies the devil.
Elder Paisios of Mount Athos
In order to acquire true humility in Christ, one must first bear the humiliation of Christ, one must be the last among his brothers and a servant to them, in order to be a true disciple of Jesus.
Always do everything according to your conscience!
Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) of Bogucharsk
Remember in Your Prayers
Sean Helgeland (great nephew to Steve and Anne Brietenbach)
Baby Brynn L.
Petronia (Wife of Phil Pappas)
Anna Marie Smith Baker
Tom and Jean, parents of Patty and Jerry.
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.
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: for nication, 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, mali ce, 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.
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 bough t 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 command ed 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.’ Fo r many are called, but few are chosen.”