Saturday, November 26, 2005

Oct 27, 2005-23rd Sunday After Pentecost

Nativity Fast/Advent

Tone 6

Epistle- Eph 2:4-10
Gospel- Luke 13:10-17

Upcoming Holy Days and Diocese Events

Wed 11/30- Apostle Andrew, First Called
Tues 12/6- St Nicholas Archbishop of Myra * (See Below)
Fri 12/9- Conception of the Holy Theotokos by Rightous Anna
Sat 12/24- Nativity Vigil/Christmas Eve** (See Below)
Sun 12/25- Nativity of Christ/Christmas

*Special Events at St. Seraphim's (High Point) on Dec 6

Vespers and Healing Service for the Feast of St. Nicholas 7pm
13th Anniversary of founding of St. Seraphim's (High Point)
13th Anniversary of the ordination of Bishop Michael to the Priesthood

** Service Schedule for St. Seraphim's (High Point)

12/24 Christmas Service and Divine Liturgy 11:30pm

NOTE: No Divine Liturgy at 11am on Sunday 12/25 since service will have been held at midnight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Editor’s Commentary: Time to Reclaim Thanksgiving

If you chose to read this article hoping to find someone lamenting what you feel is an early start to Christmas, you are going to be disappointed. My Christmas decorations have been up since last Thursday and I have been listening to Christmas music for over a week now.

What I wanted to comment about is what has happened to our Thanksgiving weekend and how our modern society and the merchants have destroyed it.

When I think back on the Thanksgiving weekends of my childhood, I recall a weekend of both spiritual significance and fun. On Thanksgiving Day, we gathered for the traditional meal. In the morning, we watched parades and in the afternoon, we watched cartoons and scary stories (I remember that the Legend of Sleepy Hollow was on every Thanksgiving afternoon. To this day Thanksgiving is not right if there is no scary element to it). On Friday and Saturday, we relaxed, enjoyed family and friends, played ball outdoors (weather permitting) and listened to Christmas music. It was a fun and relaxing weekend, away from the stresses of work and school.

Skip ahead to today. Thanksgiving has been turned into Turkey Day. The goal is now to gorge yourself silly on food, watch football, and turn in early to sleep it off.

Friday is even worse. Instead of being thankful and enjoying the company of family, Friday has become all about a dash to the mall and department stores. Grown adults end up literally coming to blows as they fight over toys and other hot and hard to find items. People have actually been trampled and killed in the stampedes of people who just cannot wait in a civilized manner to get to the stores.

This is pathetic, disgraceful, and something has to be done.

You might ask, “What can one person do?” The answer is simple.

Between now and Wednesday, buy your groceries, gas up the car, and do whatever shopping you might require until Monday.

Friday and Saturday- STAY HOME! Do not participate in this consumer nightmare. Enjoy your family; catch up on some reading, do some Bible study, whatever you like just stay away from the stores.

Yes, you will miss those after Thanksgiving bargains. Yes, you might not be able to get that hard-to-find item. However, the peace of mind you will gain more than makes up for it. Besides, chances are that come January or February there will be an overabundance of those hard to find items, at a lower price.

It is time to send a message to the merchants. Thanksgiving is a time for just that: THANKSGIVING. It is NOT about bargains, it is NOT about sales, and it is NOT about making money. The only way the merchants will get this message is if you stay home and refuse to participate in the buying frenzy.

And of course, on Sunday attend services at your parish

THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN MARY TO THE TEMPLE

THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN MARY TO THE TEMPLE

By the Most Reverend Bishop Michael D. Jordan

"Today the living temple, the temple of the Great King, enters the Temple, to prepare a Divine Abode. Wherefore, O ye nations, rejoice."

During the final prayer of the Divine Liturgy the Priest commemorates the parents of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary): Joachim and Anna. They were devout people who loved God, and were faithful believers. To her dismay, Anna was barren, and prayed often to God for the high honor of becoming a mother. Anna promised God that she would pledge her child to His Holy Temple if He would bless her with a child. Many years passed, Anna never lost her faith and hope that God would answer her prayers. At last God granted her request! Anna became the mother of a little girl, whom she named Mary.

In accordance with the tradition of the times, Mary was presented to the Temple of God as soon as she reached the age of three. Joachim and Anna brought her to the priests of the Temple, where she remained for twelve years, or until the age of fifteen. Mary was presented to the Temple on November 21st.

According to the writings of the Fathers of the Church, the Virgin Mary was received into the Temple by Zacharias, the High Priest, who later became the father of John the Baptist, the Forerunner that prepared the way for Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was also born of previously barren parents.

During the time of the Blessed Virgin Mary, all of the children who were dedicated to the Temple were taken by the holy men of the Temple and given the finest education possible. The education of the children was conducted over a period of twelve years, following the education, the children were returned to their homes. Consequently, St. Joachim and Anna are considered the "Patron Saints of Pious Education".

Can you imagine being blessed with a child after being childless for many years, then at the age of three, dedicating your child to live in the Temple for twelve years? Can you imagine the faith in God that led Anna to dedicate her daughter to God so completely and willingly? It was a sacrifice of faith in God. You would think that a mother that gave birth to a child after being barren for so long, would be selfish and cling to the child. Anna; however, fulfilled her promise to God.

We sing a Troparion for the Preparation for the Presentation that beautifully puts into words the fulfillment of Anna's promise to God: "Now does Anna proceed and bequeath to all joy instead of sorrow. By giving forth the fruit, the only Ever-Virgin, whom she offered in the Temple of the Lord. Fulfilling her vow, being verily the temple of the Word, and an undefiled Mother. "

Anna's profound act of unselfishness, paved the way to the ultimate unselfish Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all mankind. The sacrifice of Anna and the benefits of it are sung at the Vespers Service for the Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple in a hymn called the Prosomia:
"Verily, the blameless Saint entered by the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Holy of Holies and to be nourished by the Angel, who in truth shall be a most holy temple for our Holy God. He it is Who by dwelling in her has sanctified all creation and deified the perishing nature of man.

Today the young maidens come forth joyfully, carrying their lamps before the holy torch, and in a noble manner take her into the Holy of Holies, going before and foretelling the ineffable Ray which shall shine forth from her, lighting in the spirit those who sit in the darkness of folly.
With joy the all-extolled Anna cried to Zachariah, saying, receive thou her of whom the Prophets of God did preach in the Spirit. Take her into the Holy Temple to be brought up in purity, that she may become a divine throne to the Lord of all, a palace, a couch, and a shining abode."

Shortly after being returned to her parents, Mary received a visitation from the Archangel Gabriel informing her that she would give birth to the Son of God. Anna, through faith in God did not withhold her child from God, and likewise, God did not withhold His Only-Begotten Son from us.

We have in Joachim and Anna examples of faith and unselfishness. We have in them also examples of being rich toward God. In the Gospel account of St. Luke, Chapter 12:16-21, we read of a rich man who had many goods. This rich man decided to pull down his barns and build even larger ones to hold all of his earthly treasures. God said to him, you are a fool, for tonight your soul will be required of you, and whose treasures will they become. "So it is with he who lays up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God."

How can we be rich toward God? You might ask! Joachim and Anna were rich toward God, and look at the results of their actions. What God means by being rich toward God, is to have faith in Him, to trust Him, to Love Him, and to place Him first in your life.

Many people tend to think that security comes from money; however, money is a perishable commodity. You can store all the money you could ever want in bank accounts, but should your soul be required of you; as the Gospel account we have just learned about, it will be of no value to you. Security comes from God, and God only! It is God Who formed the universe from nothingness, and when all of our material things have faded into distant memories, God will still remain, unchanged and steadfast. It was God Who formed you; it's God Who breathed the breath of life into you. It was God Who gave His Only-Begotten Son to die on the Cross so we might become rich toward God. He has given us all the tools we need to glorify Him and become rich toward Him, yet many decide to put their trust in worldly treasures.

To be rich toward God is to understand that the only riches that are worthy of pursuit are the ones that bear spiritual fruit. The Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple is a reminder that personal sacrifices for God can accomplish great and wonderful things.

A PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING

By: The Most Reverend Bishop Michael D. Jordan

Almighty God, Who through Your Holy Voice have spoken to Moses, Noah, and John the Baptist.

Almighty God, Who sent into the world Your Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, God the Word.

Almighty God, Who with Your powerful, Holy Voice declared Jesus Christ as Your Son, in Whom You are well pleased, at His Baptism in the River Jordan.

Do Thou, the same God, make Your Voice known to us, that we may hear with Spiritual ears, the Holy Wisdom which only You can impart to us.

Do Thou, the same God, abide in us, strengthen us, forgive us, and help each of us to be truly grateful to You, our fountain of wisdom, and source of every good and perfect gift.

Guide us, guard us, direct our lives that we may live them in such a way that leads to our eternal salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, God, and Savior.

Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2005

November 21, 2005- Entry of the Mother of God in the Temple

Tone 5

Epistle- Heb 9:1-7
Gospel- Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28

Today the Church observes the Entry of the Mother of God in the Temple. Three year old Mary was given to the temple by her parents and spent the next twelve years being educated there retuning home at the age of fifteen.

The unselfishness of Mary's parents is a prelude to Mary's unselfish act of being the mother of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

November 20, 2005-22rd Sunday After Pentecost

Nativity Fast/Advent

Tone 5

Epistle- Gal 6:11-18
Gospel- Luke 12:16-21

Upcoming Holy Days and Diocese Events

Mon 11/21- Entry of the Mother of God in the Temple
Thurs 11/24-Sun 11/27- Thanksgiving Day and Weekend
Wed 11/30- Apostle Andrew, First Called
Tues 12/6- St Nicholas Archbishop of Myra
Vespers and Healing Service, St. Seraphim's (High Point)
13th Anniversary of founding of St. Seraphim's (High Point)
13th Anniversary of the ordination of Bishop Michael to the Priesthood
Fri 12/9- Conception of the Holy Theotokos by Rightous Anna

Monday, November 14, 2005

November 13, 2005- 21st Sunday After Pentecost. St John Chryostomstom, Archbishop of Constantinople

St John Chryostomstom, Archbishop of Constantinople

Tone 4

Epistle- Gal 2:16-20
Gospel- Luke 10:25-37

Upcoming Holy Days and Diocese Events

Mon 11/14- Apostle Phillip
Tues 11/15- Nativity Fast/Advent Begins
Wed 11/16- Apostle/Evangelist Matthew
Mon 11/21- Entry of the Mother of God in the Temple
Thurs 11/24-Sun 11/27- Thanksgiving Day and Weekend

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

November 8, 2005- Synaxis of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and all Heavenly Hosts

Today the Orthodox Church observes the Synaxis of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and all Heavenly hosts.

As you cast your votes in today's election, please do not forget the observance of this day.

Tone 3

Scripture Readings

Epistle- Hebrews 2:2-10
Gospel- Luke 10:16-21

Sunday, November 06, 2005

November 6, 2005- 20th Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 3

Epistle- Gal 1:11-19
Gospel- Luke 8:41-56

Upcoming Holy Days and Diocese Events

Tues 11/8- Synaxis Archangels Michael Gabriel and all Heavenly Hosts
Sat 11/12- Food Bank (St. Seraphim's, High Point)
Sun 11/13- St John Chryostomstom, Archbishop of Constantinople
Tues 11/15- Nativity Fast/Advent Begins
Wed 11/16- Apostle/Evangelist Matthew