St. Peter Newsletter — January 1, 2014

Holy Theophany – The Baptism of Christ

Holy Theophany

In the Christian world the period from Christmas to Theophany is called the Twelve days of Christmas. (Read the essay, The Twelve Days of Christmas on the website Fr. Hans wrote several years back).

Theophany means the manifestation (revelation) of God. When Jesus was baptized there was a voice that “thundered” saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” With that event God was manifested as Trinity: the voice of the Father, the baptism of the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. (Read the short essay by St. John Chrysostom: The Dove at Jesus’ Baptism on the website.)

The baptism of Christ was also the start of Jesus’ public ministry that would last only three short years. Think about this. Jesus preached for only three years never traveling more than 30 miles from the place of His birth. That is a testimony of not only the power of His words (the Word of God) but also the Holy Spirit who would empower the Apostles to bring that Word (the Gospel) into the world after Pentecost.

On Sunday we will bless the waters after the Divine Liturgy. Listen closely to the prayers and readings. The prayers penetrate the reservoir of life and power that is given to us by God. The readings draw deep from the prophets who spoke of Christ and the transformative grace He offers centuries before Christ even appeared.

Comprehending those words do more than teach us the history alone (as important as that is), they also transform those who hear the words with a heart prepared to receive them.

These events, which we recapitulate (re-experience) in the Church every year, are meant to give us grace, to enable us to experience the concrete and tangible grace of God in ways that affect us for the better by enabling us to draw closer to God. These services are pregnant with meaning, truth, beauty, and power that is ours to know and appropriate if our inner orientation is open to God. That way we can receive the gifts He offers through them.

Pray and Send a Card to Noah

good-sam-van-gogh-thumbNoah is a fifteen year old boy who lives in Orlando, Florida. Recently he was riding his bike and was hit by a truck. Mary Copeland, a St. Peter’s parishioner met Noah and was moved by his plight.

Remembering how Jeremiah said that the cards he received helped him in his recovery from a car accident, Mary asked the parish to both pray and send a card to Noah.

This is an excellent idea. It is also a way of showing our gratitude to God for Jeremiah’s healing by helping another one of God’s sons through the difficult time he is facing.

You can send a card to:

Noah Leonhardt
606 Doheny Way,
Casselberry, Fl. 32707

John Heers and Fr. Hans to Offer Public Lecture

public-lectureOn January 16 at 6pm, Fr. Hans and John Heers, a history teacher at Seacrest and member of St. Demetrios (OCA) in south Naples, will begin a three lecture series open to the public at the Naples Public Library.

The first session is titled “God and the Gladiators.” The lecture will be open to the larger Naples’ community. We don’t know if this will be successful, but we think the potential for success is very good. It also conforms to our Lord’s command in scripture to “compel” the people to come.

Account of Jeremiah’s Miracle Sent to Greece

elder-paisiosI was asked by the nuns of the monastery in Greece where Elder Paisios last served to write an essay that outlined Jeremiah’s miraculous healing this summer. These will be included in papers sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the canonization of Elder Paisios as a Saint. We expect a decision shortly.

The essay titled “A Miracle by Elder Paisios” is posted on the website.

May God be glorified in all things.

Sunday Scripture Readings

Epistle

Ancient Cover for the Bible

Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for Hi s mercy endureth forever.

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to Titus. (2:11-15; 3:4-7)

My son Titus, the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world; awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds.

Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Gospel

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (3:13-17)

The Reading of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

At that time, Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by Thee, and Thou dost come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.”