St. Peter Newsletter — December 26, 2015

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

The Nativity of Christ

Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdeth all creation in the hollow of His hand.
He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe.
The God Who from of old established the heavens lieth in a manger.
He Who showered the people with manna in the wilderness feedeth on milk from the breasts.
And the bridegroom of the Church calleth the Magi, and the Son of the Virgin accepteth gifts from them.
We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.

Show us also Thy divine Theophany!

Sunday: St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr

St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr

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 instructore 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 the Jews 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, the Jews 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.

Read the full story on the Orthodox Wiki website.

Helping the Poor Christmas Eve Day

Helping the Working Poor on Christmas Eve Day

Two of the best helpers from St. Peter’s

On Christmas Eve day over fifteen people went to Cafe of Life, the organization St. Peter’s works with to help the working poor in our area, to distribute toiletry articles and food collected by our parish and distributed them.

What we do for the least of these we do unto Christ, the scripture tells us and it was a very good way to begin the Christmas season. You can view a gallery of pictures from that day on the website.

Food for the Hungry Continues through December 31

food-drive

As we do ever year, Food for the Hungry continues until the end of the year.

Please bring a canned item to Church with you on Sundays. Bins will be set up to collect them.

Cash/check donations work too. Please give your donation to Mary Copeland and notate “Food Donation” on the memo line.

The drive will run through December 29. All donations will be distributed locally.

See more information on the website.

Divine Liturgy on January 1, 2016

st-basil-150x203

On January 1 we celebrate St. Basil and Circumcision of Christ (explained later).

This is also a very good way to dedicate the new year to Christ, to step forward into a life of deeper communion and greater obedience to our Savior.

Liturgy begins at 9:30am.

Vassilopita on Sunday, January 3, 2016

Vasilopita

We will cut the Vassilopita (St. Basil’s bread) on Sunday January 3 following the Divine Liturgy.

Wisdom from the Fathers

St. Isaac the Syrian

It is not necessary to roam heaven and earth after God or to send our mind to seek Him in different places. Purify your soul, O son of man, remove from yourself the thought of memories outside of nature; hang the veil of chastity and humility before your impulses. By means of these you will be able to find Him who is within you.

– St. Isaac the Syrian

Remember in Your Prayers

Bonnie Joseph

Bob Smith

Tom and Jean, parents of Patty and Jerry.

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

Sunday Readings

pantokrator-blessing

Epistle

For St. Stephen

His voice has gone out into all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God.

The Reading from the Acts of the Apostles. (6:8-7:5, 47-60)

In those days, Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the
people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called),
and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and
disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he
spoke.

Then they secretly instigated men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. The high priest said, “Is this so?” And Stephen said:

“Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.’ Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living; yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his posterity after him, though he had no child. But it was Solomon who built a house for Him.

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What house will you build for Me’, says the Lord, ‘or what is the place of My rest? Did not My hand make all these things?’ You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they grinded their teeth against him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.”

But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Gospel

(For the Sunday after Nativity of Christ)

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (2:13-23)

When the wise men had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy Him.” And he rose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region, who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.”

And he rose and took the Child and His mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”