Progress in the Relocation Fund
2013 promises to be a good year for St. Peter’s. Our plan is to raise $50,000 to find a more permanent location. We want to make sure we can meet our expenses for at least one year given the poor economy and the financial pressures this places on all of us.
So far we have raised over $40,000. This is very good news. We thank everyone who has contributed and invite anyone else who would like to be a part of the St. Peter journey to join us.
Our vision for St. Peter’s as we defined it during our discussions last month is this: We want St. Peter’s to be a place where people care for each other and where anyone who wants to find Christ in the Orthodox Christian faith is welcome.
Holy Theophany is when St. John the Baptist baptized Christ. It falls on January 6 and is the end of the 12 Days of Christmas (Christmas is celebrated on the 12 days between Christmas day and Theophany).
The term “theophany” means the manifestation of God in Greek (theo-fanis). God was manifested as three persons in one at the baptism of Christ: Jesus as the Son, the symbol of the dove as the Holy Spirit, and the Father’s acclamation that Jesus was indeed his Son.
It is also the day of the blessing of water. Since this holy day falls on a Sunday (January 6), we will bless the waters after the service.
It is also the season where we bless homes and businesses. Call Fr. Hans if you would like to schedule a blessing.
Pastoral Letter of Patriarch John
Many of you will remember that we did a memorial service for Patriach Ignatius, the Patriarch of Antioch, when he died after a fall last month. Patriarch John has been selected to take his place.
You can read his Christmas encyclical on the Antiochian web site (it is too long to reproduce here). I find his letter very encouraging and also very clear. For example, Pat. John writes:
The world will not be convinced unless it feels that it is much loved by the followers of Jesus and that they are its servants.
The Church is our mother. Each and every one of you is important and has a unique position in it. You have the right to be ministered by its shepherds. All ministers, at all ranks, should go out to you, listen to you, to your problems, and should seek to help you and answer all your crucial questions.
You have the right, as believers who submitted themselves to the Word of God and sought to be like Him in everything, that you be included in consultations and the resolution of its issues; all the children together with the father, are supposed to keep vigilance for the future under God of the family.
We approach this feast as many of the children of our Church are displaced, away from their homes, enduring much suffering. Our duty as brothers and sisters is to support them and give them consolation, not only with money and necessary material help, but also by showing them care, love and compassion.
We approach the feast as our people are facing many changes and challenges in a world that is departing increasingly from traditional concepts, making violence, consumption and possession a new law for this life. Needless to say, the luxury with which we celebrate this feast, the feast of the poverty of Bethlehem, is a clear sign that we, also, have adopted this law in the conduct of our lives. As we are accustomed to exchange gifts in the manner of the kings who visited the Lord Jesus at His birth, let us express our love to the Divine Child, coming to us, by feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, offering a shelter to the homeless and doing whatever we can do.
Sunday Scripture Readings
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7 (Epiphany)
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
The reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to Titus
TITUS, my son, 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 the 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. But 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.
Matthew 3:13-17 (Epiphany)
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 you, and do you 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.”