Feasts and God's Kingdom in our Midst
January 25, 2013
The Meeting of our Lord
(Feasts and God's Kingdom in our Midst)
+ His Eminence Archbishop Dmitri
On February 2 the Church celebrates the great feast of The Meeting of our Lord in the Temple. The Gospel lesson for that day relates how the mother of Jesus brought Him to the temple, as was the custom and requirement under the God-given Law of Moses, of Israel (Exodus 13: 2,12; Leviticus 12: 2-8). When the righteous Simeon, who received Christ in his arms at the temple, saw the child, he knew immediately that this was the Redeemer promised by all of Israel's prophecies, for the elder was inspired by the Holy Spirit (Luke 2: 26-27). Being inspired he himself uttered prophetic words which form the hymn chanted at the end of every Vesper service: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel" (Luke 2: 29-32).
This particular feast is part of the great celebration that began forty days prior, with the Nativity of Christ (December 25). Eight days later (January 1) we remembered the Circumcision of Christ and then His Baptism (January 6). The commemoration of these events in our Lord's earthly life basically form one feast, the feast of the Incarnation of God the Word. God literally entered the world, into time and history. He was physically present in the midst of His people, His creatures whom He loves. Our Lord took on human nature in order to reconcile unto Himself, man who had strayed far from the Source of his life.
In taking on the "form of a servant," God at the same time, in the Person of Christ, fulfilled every requirement of the Law that He Himself had given to His people through Moses. He demonstrated, thereby, that everything that had happened in Israel's history could not be described merely as a succession of unrelated events. Rather this was a history with a definite goal: the salvation of mankind. He identified Himself as the Director of that history and fulfilled its expectation.
When the righteous Simeon took the child into His arms and declared that this indeed was Salvation Incarnate, the "Light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Israel," a new era began: the era of God's presence among His people.
To this day, all of the Church's celebrations, no matter what the event commemorated may be, whether in the life of Christ, of the Theotokos, or of the saints, all are celebrations of Christ and the establishment on earth of the Kingdom of His presence. He initiated this Kingdom and promised its ultimate realization. And now, just as the Old Israel had awaited the beginning of God's Kingdom, the New Israel (the Church) awaits the Second and Glorious Coming of Christ and the fullness of His Kingdom, revealed.
Although all of our celebrations are rooted in the knowledge that we have been called for complete communion with Christ and to live in function of His kingdom to which we already belong, we still live in a world that has for the most part rejected what Christ gave it, that is, authentic life "in abundance," life with real purpose and meaning. We Christians, in spite of having accepted what God's intervention in human affairs gave us, slip repeatedly and fall into the great temptation to convert the things of this world into gods. We are constantly attracted by ways of seeking happiness and fulfillment that exclude God. This, of course, always proves to be vain and futile. So our lives vacillate, back and forth, between the assurance of salvation and indifference, between moments of real joy because we know that God is with us, and moments of boredom because we cannot give ourselves totally over to Him.
Every Christian celebration reaches its climax in the Divine Liturgy for the feast. In this sacred work, when God's people assemble in His name, we actually become participants in the Heavenly Kingdom to come. We are as literally present with Christ in His future Kingdom as the Apostles were with Him at the Last Supper. So the Kingdom is initiated among us and we enjoy it before our time, by anticipation. This constitutes the meaning and experience of every Eucharist. This is what our feasts and celebrations are all about, and that is why the Eucharist is the very center of them all.
I will emphasize again, however, that although what we have said is true, we continually orient our lives towards everyday pursuits, often living as though we had never experienced this divine reality. That is why repentance and penitential seasons are in order. That is why soon we will enter the Great Fast or Lent, during which time we are exhorted to repent of our sins.
Basically what is important for us Christians is that we have really "seen the True Light, received the Heavenly Spirit, found the true faith" in this experience of the Kingdom of God. The question we must all ask ourselves sincerely, however, is "what are we like when we return into this world after this Heavenly experience?" To Christ Who willed to be held in the arms of the righteous Simeon for our salvation be glory, honor and worship, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Toda Gloria a Dios - New Podcast in Spanish
January 22, 2013
One of our priests, Fr Antonio Perdomo, from St George Church in Pharr, TX has a new podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. Please visit http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/todagloria to listen to this podcast which is in Spanish.
Fr. Antonio Perdomo shares discussions, talks and presentations of themes about the Orthodox Church. Listen and learn something more about the Orthodox Church.
Toda Gloria a Dios:
Algo más sobre la Iglesia Ortodoxa…
El Padre Antonio Perdomo comparte discusiones, pláticas y presentaciones de temas sobre la Iglesia Ortodoxa. Escuchen y aprendan algo más sobre la Iglesia Ortodoxa.
DOS Chancellor Visits Students at SVOTS
January 22, 2013
VRev Fr Marcus C Burch, Chancellor of the Diocese of the South visited SVOTS students from the DOS on Friday, January 18 through Sunday, January 20. Accompanying Fr Marcus was VRev Fr Thomas Moore, the Dean of the Carolinas' Deanery of the DOS.
In addition to meeting with DOS Students Frs Marcus and Fr Thomas Moore attended the Fr Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture on Friday evening. During the visit Fr Marcus met those students and their wives who are finishing SVOTS this year to discuss placement possibilities. He also met with 2nd year students who are petitioning for ordination to begin discerning placement potential. Before Vigil on Saturday afternoon he met hosted a luncheon with all of the students. This provided an opportunity to meet with the first year students, all the spouses, and children. While there they discussed the following: 1) Process for placement within the DOS, 2) desire for all rising seniors to do a summer internship in a parish in the DOS between 2nd and 3rd year, 3) making assignment as a 2nd/Assistant for 1 to 3 years for all DOS graduates, 4) DOS Seminary Debt Service Program (DOS will service the student loans for seminarians who are assigned in the DOS during the duration of their assignment).
Additionally, Fr Marcus met with Frs Chad Hatfield and Fr John Behr to discuss these programs and desires.
While at SVOTS, they attended the Pahikhida for Fr Jacob Myers that was served Saturday afternoon before Vigil Saturday evening, and concelebrated with Seminary Clergy at Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning.
2013 Diocesan Assembly
January 19, 2013
As we prepare to gather at the Diocesan Pastoral Conference in a couple weeks, please remember to mark your calendars for the Diocesan Assembly this summer. The Assembly will be July 29 to Aug 1 in Jacksonville, FL.
Memory Eternal: Fr Jacob Myers - UDPATED
January 19, 2013
Fr Jacob Myers, Rector of St John the Wonderworker in Atlanta, fell asleep in the Lord this evening at 8:17 pm. Please keep his wife Matushka Rebecca and their children in your prayers.
The funeral services will be held at St John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church (543 Cherokee AVE SE, Atlanta, GA 30311). At 3:00 pm, on Friday, January 25, Fr Jacob will arrive at the church and there will be a Panikhida. The Funeral Vigil for a Priest will be at 7:00 pm that evening. In the morning (Saturday, January 26th) the Funeral Divine Liturgy will be served at 9:00 am. There will be a procession to Greenwood Cemetery (1173 Cascade Circle SW, Atlanta, GA 30311) with the service of Burial and the Interment.
Everyone is welcome to come to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (2500 Clairmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329) for the reception following the burial and interment.
If you are coming from out of town, a block of rooms are available down the street from the church at the Holiday Inn under the name Myers.
450 Capitol Avenue Southeast
Atlanta, GA 30312
If you would like to make a donation in Father Jacob's name, please make it to "Loaves and Fishes". Flowers are welcome to be sent to St. John's, or smaller arrangements to the home, for the family, if you prefer.
May the memory of the Priest Jacob be eternal!
Updated Pastoral Conference Information - Public Talks Announced
January 13, 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here is the updated schedule for the 2013 Diocese of the South Pastoral Conference (PDF).
There are two talks open to the public, on Tuesday, February 5th, at 7:30 pm VRev Fr Andrew Morbey will be speaking on "The Rubrics Nudge: The Priest as Eucharistic Celebrant. This talk will be held in the St Mary of Egypt Parish Hall (925 Beaver Ruin Rd, Norcross, GA). For more information on the talk and speaker, click here.
On Wednesday, February 6th, at 7:30 pm Rev Fr Luke Veronis will be speaking on "Resurrection of the Church in Albania: An Inspiring Missionary Endeavor. This talk will be held at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (2500 Clairmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA). For more information on the talk and the speaker, click here.
Holy Theophany Across the Diocese of the South
UPDATED! January 11,2013
Please see the gallery for photos of the "Great Blessing of Waters" as done across the Diocese of the South.
St James Church, Beaufort, SC, recieved front page coverage in their local paper. To see the article, click here.
To see the article from the local Central Kentucky News, click here.
St. Symeon Church Fundraiser
January 8, 2013
Beloved Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters in Christ,
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
My name is Phillip Ritchey. I am a member of St. Symeon the New Theologian Orthodox Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This year, our parish celebrated its 35th Anniversary. In conjunction with our Anniversary celebration, our parish voted to build a canonical, Orthodox-style temple to replace the current church building, in fulfillment of the wishes and blessing of our Blessed Archbishop DMITRI of blessed memory.
We are asking for your support of this project. Attached is a flyer showing several products we are offering for sale. Our wonderful choir has recorded four CDs, which are for sale, in addition to a few other items which our parish has created.
Please share this information with your parishes, your friends and family, and other Orthodox parishes in your area. We need your help to fulfill this blessed dream of our beloved Archbishop. The details of our products are in the flyer, and you can also visit www.stsymeon.com for further details on all of our products for sale.
May God bless you for your support of His church!
Phillip I. Ritchey
St. Symeon Orthodox Church Online Store
3101 Clairmont Avenue
Birmingham, AL 35205
The Incarnation and Peace Among Men
January 2, 2013
+ His Eminence Archbishop Dmitri
"For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity..." (Ephesians 2: 14-15)
This Scriptural passage is read on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost. St Paul is describing an important meaning -- result -- of the Incarnation. The enmity between nations and people of differing races, taken for granted as something natural, even sanctioned by religion, was destroyed by the entrance of God into human history.
The Incarnation is the great turning point of history. Even the secular world marks its time "Before Christ" (BC.) and "Anno Domini (AD. -- the year of our Lord). Time since Christ is the modern era. Twentieth-century man likes to think of his century as the truly modern one, and of deep concerns for equality and justice as being products of his time. Yet, all that is said now about these concepts was said centuries ago by Jesus Christ Himself, and society is only beginning to catch up with His advanced ideas.
Racial equality, brotherhood among nations and peoples, integration -- these are ideas that one hears expressed continually in our day, and many, even some Christians, regard them as foreign to the teachings of the Church. The fact is that Christians themselves have obscured and distorted the fundamental characteristics of the new life that God Incarnate gave to the world.
Religion has been historically, the sanctifier of national differences. The Faith often has coincided with the boundaries of the nation, and unfortunately Christian communities have been strongholds of ethno-religiosity-national faith ideas.
One radical misunderstanding of Christians of their own faith is partially responsible for this attitude. Christianity is often thought of as one of so many religions, when the truth is that Christianity is not religion in the usual sense of the word. It is above religion; Christ came to complete and crown religion. It is the new life in Christ, the worship of God in spirit and in truth.
Unaided by direct revelation, man's relationship to God found its expression in religion, yet when the fullness of time was come, and God entered into the world, the real nature of that relationship was revealed. This revealed relationship, then, is "super-religion," above and beyond all pietistic systems devised by man, the end toward which all religion was directed.
However, throughout Christian history there have been those who would force Christianity into the mold of traditional religion and make of it one more competitor for men's loyalties. Even in our own Church, by historical accident, the Faith had been identified with nationalities. It is particularly sad that Christians have not taken the initiative and, being true to their nature, broken down the walls of partition. It is tragic that Christians have identified themselves with the old idea of religion as the separator of men. Due in part to this misunderstanding, a large-scale abandonment of the Church was seen in years past, and is evident even to this day.
In reality, faith in Christ is the force of unification and could solve the world's problems; all those things which captivate men's minds in our day -- peace, brotherhood, equality, social justice -- have their origin in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Church has always prayed for the union of all men in the Liturgy, because she is convinced that God so wills it. Tragically, when men speak now of peace, brotherhood, equality and social justice, they offer humanism as the only basis for these things.
The unity and peace of which St. Paul spoke are unity and peace that only Christ can give, and this is exactly what faith in Christ will lead to. Unity and peace on any other foundation can only lead to further chaos and wider gulfs of separation.
We Christians must re-examine ourselves and allow ourselves to be unified by Christ. We can start by removing, with God's help, all enmity and ill-will that exists among ourselves; we must consciously make ours, the characteristic measures by which we can judge just how close we are to Christ -- "do unto others as we would have them do unto us," "forgive men their debts, just as our heavenly Father forgives us our debts."
No matter how chaotic the world may be, no matter how much hatred and bitterness exists among men, we know that when men take seriously Christ's command to "love our neighbor as ourselves," the influence and effect of that love is so great that it can overcome the world.
Great Blessing of Waters
January 2, 2013
Click here to view the information in the local paper about the Great Blessing of Waters taking place at our new mission in Beaufort, SC. For more information on St James Church please visit http://www.stjamesbeaufort.org.
Ugandan Medical Clinic
January 2, 2013
Please see this website for more information on work in Northern Uganda with a medical clinic.