December 2, 2012
26th Sunday after Pentecost

  • Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 1
  • Troparion of the prophet Habakkuk, Tone 2
  • Troparion of St Michael, Tone 4
  • Kontakion Preparatory for the Nativity, Tone 3
  • (Sung from November 26- December24)

Epistle: Eph 5: 9-19
Gospel: Matthew 17: 14-23

St. Barbara
(Commemorated on Dec.4th)

Barbara is listed in some Churches as one of fourteen auxiliary saints and is sometimes referred to as holy “Helpers”. In the Orthodox Church she is known as the saint of artillerymen and firemen, but more commonly known as the saint of hazardous occupations. Born in the early third century, she was raised by her pagan father named Dioskoros who shielded her from the world. Dioskoros practiced idolatry with a passion and was convinced that Christianity was evil. He vowed that his daughter never convert to Christianity or be around Christians. However, Barbara managed to come to the light of Jesus Christ by a local monk and was baptized. Barbara told her father about her conversion and said to him the only way to salvation for her and for her father was accepting that Jesus Christ is the son of God and her Savior. Dioskoros after hearing his daughter pledge to Christ, the love he had for her turned to hatred. During the reign of Maximianus (A.D. 235), they were still persecuting Christians. Dioskoros with vengeance in his heart for his daughter reported her to the province. Because she did not deny Christ as her Savior, Barbara was beheaded. One account has it that her father beheaded her himself. God’s act of vengeance to Dioskoros, he was killed by a bolt of lightning on his way back from his daughter execution. In some Churches because of how she died, today St. Barbara is honored as the safeguard against sudden death.

December 9, 2012
27th Sunday after Pentecost
Conception of St. Anne, Mother of the Theotokos

  • Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 2
  • Troparion of the Righteous Anne, Tone 4
  • Troparion of St. Michael, Tone 4
  • Kontakion Preparatory for the Nativity, Tone 3
    (Sung from November 26-December 24)

Epistle: Gal. 4: 22-27
Gospel: Luke 13: 10-17

St. Nicholas the Wonder-Worker
(Commemorated on Dec. 6th)

St. Nicholas was born in Myra, Asia Minor, now called Turkey and became bishop of Myra. We do not know very much the early day of St. Nicholas. After his parents died, he inherited a lot of money. He thought of other people that were less fortunate then himself, especially the poor. One particular story regarding Nicholas is about a father with three daughters who didn’t have enough food to feed them. St. Nicholas heard about his troubles and wrapped some gold coins and threw them in an open window in the father’s house. The next morning, the family found the gold, but they didn’t know who to thank, so they thanked God for their gift! St. Nicholas never wanted to be thanked for his generosity and charity. When he was discovered giving gifts, he would tell the person “Don’t tell anyone about the gifts, let it be our secret”. He also told them, “Please don’t thank me, thank God”. Unfortunately in today’s modern world we live in, the children in our society, forget or don’t know about the good gestures what St. Nicholas did. Mostly they are fascinated by the famous poem written by Clement Moore in 1823, “The Night before Christmas” and who will receive the best gift for being a good boy or girl. Thus, the meaning of St. Nicholas or Santa Clause dropping gifts at night at children’s homes, not to be thanked, but thank only God, is lost! St. Nicholas continued his life helping the poor, and after he died, the church called him St. Nicholas “The Champion of the People”. He is also referred to as, “St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker” (person who works wonders or performs miracles). Children around the world love him because of his great love he had for children, and his great Christian faith in God. They know of him, how he taught people to love and help each other as Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior did. In Holland, they called him Sinter, meaning Saint and Claes meaning Nicholas, thus his name years later was changed to Santa Clause. We celebrate his feast day December 6th.

December 16, 2012
28th Sunday after Pentecost
 Sunday of the Forefathers

  • Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 3
  • Troparion of the Forefathers, Tone 2
  • Troparion of St Michael, Tone 4
  • Kontakion Preparatory for the Nativity, Tone 3
    (Sung from November 26 – December 24)

Epistle: Col. 3: 4-11
Gospel: Luke 14: 16-24

The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

This Feast Day is an important day in the Christian Church.  It is also called the Incarnation of Jesus Christ which means become human like us in Christ’s second nature, “The Word became flesh” (John 1:14).
We should also remember that our Savior Jesus Christ emptied Himself of his divine glory and humiliated Himself to accept the human condition. These conditions knowing that he died for us, then resurrected so that we may have everlasting life in the kingdom of God. The son of God “begotten not made” is Unlike Adam who was created by God the Father. Jesus Christ our Lord who is uncreated, He is one of the Trinity, the Son of the Father and coeternal. Jesus assumes the destiny of the first man and gives us a second chance to have everlasting life. We know the story about the birth of Jesus. We’ve heard about it over and over since we were children. Yet, no matter how many times we hear about the Nativity, keep in mind how much God still loves us. “For God so loved the world He gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). He sent His Son to teach us and to become most of all Christians or followers of Christ. So when we light the Christmas tree and exchange gifts, remember the most important gift on Christmas Day that gift of course is the gift of Love God gave to us, Jesus Christ our Lord. And let us not forgot the real reason for the season because “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Christ is born!
 Glorify Him!

Sunday 23, 2012
29th Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday before the Nativity
(Sunday of Genealogy)

  • Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 3
  • Troparion of the Forefeast, Tone 4
  • Troparion for the Holy Father, Tone 2
  • Troparion of St Michael, Tone 4
  • Kontakion Preparatory for the Nativity, Tone 3
    (Sung from November 26 – December 24)
Epistle: Hebrews 11:9-10; 17: 23, 32-40Col. 3: 4-11
Gospel: Matthew 1:1-25

Sunday 30, 2012
30th Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday after the Nativity of Christ
Commemoration of Joseph the Betrothed, 
David the Prophet and King, and 
James the Brother of the Lord

  • Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 5
  • Troparion of the Sunday after Nativity, Tone 4
  • Troparion of the Nativity, Tone 4
  • Troparion of St Michael, Tone 4
  • Kontakion of Nativity, Tone 3
Epistle: Gal. 1:11-19
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-23

The Feast of the Theophany ("Manifestation of God") takes its name from the event of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in which the fullness of the Holy Trinity is revealed. At the moment of the baptism the Father's voice is heard, calling Jesus his "Beloved Son" and the Holy Spirit is seen descending on Him in the form of a dove. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity - Three Persons in One God - is thus proclaimed to all! This teaching is fundamental to the Orthodox Christian faith: our faith is based on the truth of who God is - any other concept of God is mistaken as it takes people away from who He really is.

Doctrine in the Orthodox Church is not abstract: it is a lived reality and basic to our spirituality, our way - the true way - of relating to God as a Church and as individuals. Our lives as Christians are an internalization and a manifestation of the Holy Trinity who dwells within us: the Person of the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and brings us into the life of the Person of the Son, Jesus Christ. In turn, Christ brings us into the Person of the Father. That is why we pray in the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of the Son to the heavenly Father. That is why the Holy Mysteries (sacraments) of the Church are nothing less than the life of the Holy Spirit being poured into our lives by the Father in the name of his Beloved Son.

The baptismal rite performed by Saint John the Baptist, in which the Holy Trinity is revealed, prefigures the later Christian mystery of Baptism in which each individual is brought into the life of the Trinity. Just as our Lord began his ministry among men with his baptism, so we begin our lives as Christians with Baptism. The baptism performed by Saint John was a rite of repentance: our Baptism is an act of repentance which turns us away from sin to the life of God's grace and holiness.

May our participation in the Sanctification of the Waters, done during the Liturgy of the Feast of the Theophany, be for all of us a renewal of our life in the Trinity and a commitment on our part to dedicate ourselves to our Lord Jesus Christ, who saves us a draws all men to Himself!

-His Eminence Archbishop Lorenzo

The New Disciples of Christ
Writing by Valerie David
(Sunday school)

We as Christians are Christ’s latest disciples. Each time a newly converted Christian comes into Jesus’ circle of Christianity, you might say it’s another feather in his cap, which means the continuation of Christ’s discipleship. As the new disciples of Christ, we are called to repent, spread God’s message, and make ready for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Since we are his disciples, like Jesus first disciples who were called to spread God’s message or Good news, we must first repent. Saint John the Baptist tells us: “Repent ye; for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”(Matthew 3:2.) Why did St. John preach about repentance? Repentance is one of the keys. The central teaching of our church is the forgiveness of our sins in Christ.

When Christ built the new foundation (the Christian faith) with his disciples, he wanted that foundation to continue and to be strong forever. The birth of the church begins at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples of Christ. As the Holy Spirit dwelled in his disciples, we believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in us to keep that foundation strong today with his new disciples. Christ himself had often talked about the Holy Spirit. “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. ” (Matthew 10:19-20.) With the phrase “in Christ” Saint Paul tells us that Christians live a new life in Christ. In the Orthodox Church, at Baptisms, we say were dead unto Christ and have put on Christ. Christ lives in us and is a part of us each time when we spread the good news (the New Testament.) The purpose of the “good news”, as it was with the disciples of Christ and as it is in today’s world with us, is to teach not only the Gospel to other Christians, but to teach the non-Christians that hopefully they will see the Light (Christ.)

We, the new generation of disciples, come from a lineage over two thousand years ago bases its Christian principles on love and forgiveness. Faith is the key, not only in spreading God’s word, but to have eternal life in the Kingdom of God. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5: 16.) Fr. Mark often mentions in his sermons around Christmas time that “Jesus is the reason for the season” because lately we are constantly hearing during this time when we say Merry Christmas to non-Christians we are offending them. He thinks this is a lot of nonsense and political correctness and when we believe that we are offending them, it just puts Christ in second place because then we become tolerant of these other religions which are wrong. Instead Fr. Mark tells us we should be cordial and they (non-Christians) should become tolerant of us so that they can come to “the Light”.

The purpose of the Gospels, such as the gospel of Matthew, is basically to tell us that Jesus Christ is not just a man, but the anointed one, or Messiah, the Son of God, Savior, and lastly the Lord and God. Jesus’ disciples as we know were “called.” Andrew being the first called, and the other eleven, were to continue Christ’s teachings after his Ascension. As Christ gave the keys to Peter, because he answered the question “who am I”, Peter answered “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” To understand why Jesus gave Peter the keys, Jesus wanted to build this new foundation brick by brick, and of course those bricks were going to be the new Christians, or disciples. In other words, without this foundation or new Christian faith, there would be no roof to complete his mission. Now it is up to us, as disciples of Christ, to continue his mission. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28: 20.) If we want to become disciples of Christ, we have to accept that the Christian faith is the champion of faiths and Christ is indeed King of Kings.

-Valerie David

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