Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker
(Troparion, Tone 4):
“In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Nicholas, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.”
Meditation by Very Rev. Dr. David Petras
Colossians 3:12-16; Luke 17:12-19
The American culture joins together the Feast of Thanksgiving and Christmas. If we are materialistic, we might say it is the sell gifts. However, there is a spiritual meaning to the joining of these feasts, because Thanksgiving asks the question: “To whom do we give thanks?” The answer of a non-believer is to ourselves and another, for as rational human beings, it is up to us the give meaning to our existence and to produce the goods that we need or simply want. The gospel tells us that we must give thanks to God, who alone brought us into being and who alone can give us salvation. Jesus tells us today that this is difficult, because it requires humility and an open heart. Thus only one of the ten lepers gives thanks, and the least expected, the foreigner. It is on Christmas that God gives us his greatest gift, the gift of himself. This gift requires the greatest thanksgiving, the eucharist (Greek for “thanksgiving”) in which God gives himself to us in Holy Communion. That is why it is so important to make that effort to seek the Lord in his church. There is where we receive “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another … and over all these put on love. (Colossians 3:12-14)” There we can imitate the leper who returned gratitude to the Lord, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)” There the priest invites us, “Let us give thanks to the Lord.”
Today is the feast day of St Andrew.
It is a legend, but also a symbol, that St. Andrew evangelized the town of Byzantium before it would become a great city. The symbol, therefore, is that Rome, the West, and Constantinople (Byzantium), the East are united in the fraternity of the two apostles, Peter and Paul. In our broken world, the Church is hampered in preaching the gospel by internal divisions. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches are heroically trying to re-unite to preach the one true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are hampered by narrow-minded people in both Churches, who cannot see Christ living in the eucharist of these Churches. There is only one Christ in Holy Communion, and we do not partake of one Christ, and the other another Christ. There is only one Christ born of Mary in Bethlehem, whose Body we cannot divide. Now is the proper time for the one Church to proclaim the one Lord and Savior in the one holy Gospel. We must pray for unity this Christmas that we are not too late.
Very Rev. Dr. David Petras
Meditation by Very Rev. David Petras Colossians 1:12-18
The epistle this Sunday tells us who Jesus truly is. He is the very center of our being. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, …. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.” St. John tells us the same thing, “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race. (John 1:3-4)” We have the saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas,” but we must take this a step further, “We must put Christ into everything that we are, and in all creation.” Our whole lives must be oriented to Christ, “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)” This worship is not complete until we imitate the Lord in his love for all who have come to be in his loving-kindness.
Andrey Sheptytsky Council will meet in the church hall on Monday, December 5th at 7:00 p.m.
All men of the parish are invited to attend.
The Divine Liturgy will be offered at 9:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2016.
“The most pure Temple of the Savior; / the precious Chamber and Virgin; / the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, / is led today into the house of the Lord. / She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, / therefore, the angels of God praise her: / ‘Truly this woman is the abode of heaven.’” (Kontakion-Hymn of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple)
Today we have two great feasts celebrated in our churches: According to the so-called New Calendar, it is the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, and on the Older Calendar it is the feast of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Powers.
So let me reflect on both. Let me reflect on the visible “temple” of the Lord, the Mother of God, entering another visible temple, in Jerusalem, as “the angels of God praise Her.” Both She, and all visible “temples” of today, like us, and our church-buildings, have received the capacity to unite the visible and invisible created worlds, in the Coming of Her heretofore invisible Son in the flesh. We unite with the invisible creation in praise, as we “mystically represent” or “mystically become icons of” (μυστικῶς εἰκονίζοντες) the cherubim at every Divine Liturgy.
But amazingly, we also receive an honor that exceeds theirs, by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ as they do not. So today let me be humbled by the unique honor I am given in God’s one, created world, with the help of His invisible and visible servants. And let me follow His Most-Pure Mother into the Holy of Holies, into a Communion that even the angels are not given.
Sister Vassa Larin