New Beginnings: The Red Sea and the Jordan River
First of all we need to thank all our well-wishers who attended our first Divine Liturgy last Sunday in our new location. Some traveled considerable distances to attend (as far as Sarasota!). We are grateful that you came and we deeply appreciate your support and love.
It was a good start to a new beginning. St. Peter’s coalesced and stabilized during our years at the Holiday Inn. Those were blessed times that laid the foundation for carrying on the work that God has called us to do albeit in new and creative ways.
So how do we think about the future?
Moses leading the people across the Red Sea
In the book of Exodus there are two crossings through the water. The first one everyone knows: Moses led the children through the Red Sea. The second one only a few people know: Joshua led the people through the parting of the Jordan River (you can read it here).
The Moses story is similar to the Joshua story (Moses led the people out of Egypt; Joshua led the people into the Promised Land) with this important difference: The waters of the Jordan River did not part until the priests put their foot into the water. Then they led the others.
The crossing of the Jordan River
There’s a lesson here. We are to move forward in faith. God acts when we act, not before. God did mighty things when he called the people out of the bondage of Egypt, but once they passed through the Red Sea, then they had to learn how to cooperate with God — how to obey and work with Him.
The Crossing of the Red Sea represents Baptism, and the crossing of the Jordan River represent learning how to live in obedience to God. For St. Peter’s parish this means that we first will seek to discern God’s will for us and seek to accomplish it — what we should do internally such as worship, confession, and the other sacraments; what we should do in the larger community; how and in what ways do we bring the Gospel forward, bible studies, lectures, and more as the future unfolds.
Moreover, like the ancient Israelites moving into the Planned Land, we will trust God to be our provider and defender — to go before us and meet our needs — just as it teaches us in Scripture. God will be faithful to us as we are obedient to Him.
Can we trust this?
Yes. We have already seen that this is how God works. When we decided it was time to move, we received the funds we needed to accomplish it. Note that the funds came after we made our decision and after we started the preparations, not before. So it will be in everything we undertake in accord with God’s will.
What is God’s will?
To bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is understood and practiced in our Orthodox Christian faith to anyone who seeks it. This clear from Holy Scripture and confirmed by the witness of our Saints and Teachers.
This Sunday: St. Raphael of Brooklyn
Several themes emerge as the story of St. Raphael’s life unfolds. The first is the mysterious way in which God led him from his native homeland to the shores of the American continent. The second is his submissive attitude to the providence of God. And the third is his love for the people of God. Though during his lifetime he was neither a wonder-worker nor a clairvoyant elder, St. Raphael embraced a life of total abandonment of self for the service of God and his fellow man: a life of true spiritual asceticism.
On the first Saturday in November we commemorate our father among the Saints, Raphael (Hawaweeny). In 2015, the 100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of St. Raphael, the Archdiocese’s Creative Festivals will feature the theme, “Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America.”
Read more on the Antiochian Archdiocese website.
Remember in Your Prayers
Please pray for Pauline Poulos who is in the hospital this week with some heart problems.
Please continue to remember Bob Smith and Mary Jarvis who are recovering from medical procedures, and doing fine we are happy to report.
Do pray. Prayer is very powerful and changes situations and circumstances. God hears your prayers.
Met. Joseph Enthronement Weekend
On December 5-7, 2014, His Emminence Met. Joseph will be enthroned as the Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese of America in Brooklyn, New York.
From the Antiochian Archdiocese:
It is with great pleasure that we announce that the events related to the Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph will take place during the weekend of December 5 through 7, 2014, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. The actual enthronement will take place in conjunction with Vespers on Saturday, December 6.
We will be greatly blessed by the presence of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, who will preside during this weekend.
Complete information, including travel arrangements, can be found on the Antiochian Archdiocese website.
The Sunday Scripture Readings
The Gospel Reading
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John. (10:9-16)
The Lord said to His Disciples: “I am the door; if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; I know My own and My own know Me, as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed My voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”
The Epistle Reading
My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.
Hear this, all ye nations; give ear, all ye that inhabit the world.
The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews. (7:26-8:3)
Brethren, it was fitting that we should have such a High Priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; He did this once for all when He offered up Himself.
Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son Who has been made perfect forever.
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a High Priest, one Who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.