Sanctity Of Life Sunday
This icon print of the Wonder-Working Sitka Icon of the Mother of God was presented to us with the blessing of His Beatitude, The Most Blessed Herman Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada in observance of Sanctity of Life Sunday January 23, 2005.
Today at Liturgy, Father Andrew read to the congregtion from the following Archpastoral Message received from His Beatitude, The Most Blessed Herman Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada.
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America
For over three decades, hundreds of thousands of marchers have gathered annually in Washington, DC in mid-January to proclaim the sanctity of human life, to decry the tragedy of abortion, and to pray for its victims. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made abortion on demand the law of the land, millions of innocent children have died, their lives snuffed out while still in their mothers' wombs. There are those who have defended this practice on a variety of grounds, politicizing what is, in essence, a moral, ethical and spiritual issue. Endless debates as to whether the fetus is human life or merely "potential" human life, whether a woman has the "right" to determine what happens to "her body,' and whether abortion is a humanitarian act or simply murder have, over the last three decades, polarized the citizens of the United States and have affected everything from political campaigns to interfaith dialogues and relations.
Abortion, together with the other issues which challenge the fact that all creation is a sacred gift from God, cannot be separated from stewardship-the wise management of that which is freely given to us, yet which does not belong to us. We recognize this principle-or, more appropriately, this reality-at every Divine Liturgy, as we proclaim, "Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all." Of course, for those who deny God or who reject Him as "Maker of all things, visible and invisible,' stewardship has no place in the ongoing debate. For those whose worldview eliminates the very need for a Creator or who see the universe's origins as a matter of chance or process, there is no "gift," for there is no "giver." Hence, there is nothing to steward, nothing to manage wisely. All that exists is simply "inherited" for our personal use, employed according to our individual wills and whims, and enjoyed or rejected according to our personal assessment of what is "good" for us. Accountability to God does not exist in this worldview; as such, any responsibility for life, for the environment, or for our time, talents, and treasures rests solely with the creature, not with the Creator.
As Orthodox Christians, our concern for proclaiming and protecting human life cannot be separated from our call to stewardship of all creation. Human life, like the air we breathe and the water we drink and the natural resources we rely upon daily, is not only a gift from the Creator, but the very crown of His creation. The fact that we have been created "in the image and likeness of God" in order to become "partakers of His divine nature" reveals the sacred nature of life and demands our unswerving commitment to be stewards of this most precious gift. But as Orthodox Christians it is insufficient to simply protest the evils of abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and other denials of life's sacred character. We must, above all, proclaim-and in many instances convince others of-the very presence of a loving Creator, without Whom life cannot be properly called a "sacred gift." We must struggle to share a worldview which sees all creation, including human life from conception to the moment of natural death, as something worth saving and worthy of glorifying its Creator. And we must strive to become truly wise stewards of all that we have been given. In other words, while witnessing to the evils, of abortion, we must never forget the more important and fundamental task of witnessing to "the Giver of Life."
And so, brothers and sisters, abortion is indeed more than a political concern or a "contemporary social issue." It challenges the very foundation of our faith and the very nature of creation and its divine Creator. If the world is to hear and learn the truth, it must hear it from us, as people of faith. And if the world is to understand that all life-that all creation, in fact-is a sacred gift, it will only do so if we, as wise and faithful stewards, share the Good News which has been entrusted to us.
While praying for those millions of innocent children who have lost their lives through abortion, let us pray also that those who have yet to see the sanctity of life will be open to the Spirit of Truth and acknowledge the call to stewardship of "God's varied gifts," that in all things He alone might be glorified.
With love in Christ,
Father Andrew likewise read the prayer listed below from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.
O Christ our God, You are the One Who both gives and wills the protection of all life By word and by deed, You have taught us to treat all life as sacred, with the utmost care and compassion for every human being, of every race, nation and faith, of every walk and way of life, those born and unborn alike.
Seeking to fulfill this teaching as Your followers, we turn to You in fervent prayer on this "Sanctity of Life Sunday." 0 God, Who knows each of us from our mother's womb, protect the fragile lives of our unborn little brothers and sisters, granting blessed repose to those whose tiny lives were terminated by the State, and repentance and forgiveness to all who have participated in capital punishment.
You Who proclaimed that "whoever lives by the sword shall also die by the sword," grant that we may soon know an end to all violence, bloodshed and desecration of human life. Instill a sense of life's sanctity m all who foment war abroad and who bring violence to our streets at home. Grant protection to our Armed Forces, and to all peoples, both here and abroad. Grant blessed repose to those who have perished in acts of war and terror and street violence, as well as repentance and forgiveness to those who have participated in such bloodshed.
O Life-Giving Christ, the Prince of Peace, through the intercessions of our Panayia and all the Saints, grant us and all people the will to treat all life as sacred By protecting the Sanctity of Life, may we ever more glorify You, its Source - together with Your eternal Father and Your all-Holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and always, and unto the ages of ages. AMEN.
Share The Light Sunday
Father Andrew received a packet including a video about the formation of an national Orthodox media center. The Standing Conference of Bishops (SCOBA) sent the packet to all Orthodox Parishes in the United States directing each priest to preach from a sermon guideline, read a letter from the Bishops and show the video about the National Radio program Come see the Light. Each parish was directed to take an offering to support the ministry so that every large city would have the program broadcast. Because many people leave at the end of the liturgy, Father Andrew choose to show the video directly after the final blessing. A Television was placed in the center of the Church so that all could watch. As parishioners left the church they we given an opportunity to donate toward the ministry.
Below is the letter and checklist received by Father Andrew in reference to the Share the Light Program.
The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
"You are the light of the world A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
Share The Light Sunday
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
Can any of us look at the world today, from international turmoil to personal tragedies in the lives of loved ones and neighbors, and-not see that this world needs the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Our Lord Jesus said that we who follow Him are "the light of the world." We are the reflected light of His glory, of His hope, of His love, to a world stumbling in the dark shadows of sin and sorrow.
But what happens when the world cannot see because the light is hidden? More and more of our fellow human beings, persons created in the image of God, wander without a guiding Light to help them avoid the pitfalls of modern life. No wonder Christ instructed us to never put our light "under a basket," but set it "on a lampstand" so that it will give its light to the whole house. We, the faithful of the Orthodox Church are called to not allow any hindrance to block the life-giving light of our Lord Jesus Christ from those who so desperately need it.
Because of the tools available to us today, we can let our light shine through the use of modem communications. Our faithful are bombarded every day with messages from the media. Our Orthodox youth are shaped and informed by radio, TV, and the internet. If our Church is habitually absent from these forms of communication, can we really hope to reach out to this culture with the light of Jesus Christ?
We Orthodox Christians in North America are some of the most privileged Christian believers in the world. We can pick up and use the tools God has gifted to this world to share His eternal message of hope and love to the hurting and lost. That is why we have called on all our faithful to observe this special Share The Light Sunday.
For the past several years Orthodox Christian Networks has produced a weekly radio program called Come Receive The Light. This program is helping us communicate the light of Christ to this age. As the media outreach of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, OCN is ready to spread love, joy, and hope in Jesus Christ by using the media to provide a witness for the Orthodox faith throughout North America. Already, Come Receive The Light is heard in over 20 broadcast venues each week, encouraging faithful Orthodox listeners and enlightening those who are unaware of the Orthodox Christian faith.
This needs to be happening in every city in America, and that is why we have designated this Sunday to call on all the faithful to help us take the "basket" off the light of Orthodoxy. On this Share The Light Sunday. we are convinced that, together, we can begin driving the darkness of doubt and confusion away, and create a way for all our faithful to be educated and encouraged. We can also create a way for anyone who hungers for the fullness of the faith to come to know the richness of Orthodox Christianity. Please join us in creating and sustaining through your generous gifts and prayers a national media outreach for our Holy Orthodox Church.
May Christ, our True Light, grant you His peace and salvation!
A Come Receive The Light Fact Sheet
The vast majority of Americans get much of their information from mass
Today following Liturgy, St. Luke Parish celebrated the feast called Epiphany or Theophany which means shining forth or manifestation. The emphasis in the present-day celebration is on the appearance of Jesus as the human Messiah of Israel and the Divine Son of God, One of the Holy Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Thus, in the baptism by John in the Jordan, Jesus identifies Himself with sinners as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:20), the "Beloved" of the Father whose messianic fate it is to redeem men from their sins (Luke 3:21, Mark 1:35). And He is revealed as well as One of the Holy Trinity, testified to by the voice of the Father, and the Spirit in the form of a dove. This is the central epiphany glorified is the feast day, the Holy Trinity. (Taken from Worship, The Orthodox Faith Vol. II by Fr. Thomas Hopko)
Here we see the parishioners gathered together in our courtyard for the blessing of the water.
In the above picture we see Father Andrew blessing water in a font. There is a hose in the font bring water from our well. This is accordance with the liturgical directions instruct that water be blessed at a source such as a river, lake, ocean, and in this case a well.
Father Andrew blesses the water.
Lighted candles are dipped into the water as Father Andrew says "For You are our God, Who by fire and water, through Elijah, freed Israel from the errors of Baal."
We see Father Andrew holding the cross above the holy water, next he plunges the cross into the holy water three times symbolizing the Baptism of Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. During this the congregatition sings the troparion for the day.
TROPARION: WHEN YOU, LORD, WERE BAPTIZED IN THE JORDAN, THE WORSHIP OF THE TRINITY WAS MADE MANIFEST. FOR THE VOICE OF THE FATHER BORE WITNESS TO YOU, AND CALLED YOU HIS BELOVED SON. AND THE SPIRIT, IN THE FORM OF A DOVE CONFIRMED THE TRUTHFULNESS OF HIS WORD. O CHRIST OUR GOD, YOU HAVE REVEALED YOURSELF AND HAVE ENLIGHTENED THE WORLD, GLORY TO YOU!
Following the blessing the parishioners return to the building were Father Andrew blessed each with Holy water and they were able to partake of some water and take some home as needed.
Next Father Andrew and parishioners went thru the entire building complex blessing it with Holy Water and singing the Troparion. This is the same as when Father Andrew visits the houses of the parishioners and blesses them. Our parishioners are all encouraged each year to sign up for a house blessing. Here Father Andrew blesses one of the classrooms.
Blessing of the fellowship hall.
Our Children Present The Ten Commandments
Following Liturgy today we were treated to a presentation by our church school children on the Ten Commandments. The older children read the commandemnts one by one and the younger children gave their own interpretations. One of the favorites was "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." To which the younger children added "Go To Church!" Thanks to those who organized this presentation for us.
This Sunday during the Divine Liturgy, young Matthew was chrismated are received into the Orthodox Chruch.
Here we see Father Andrew annointing Matthew's feet as part of the ceremony.
Matthew was present with icons from St. Lukes to commerate this event. Here Father Andrew presents him with an icon of St. Matthew his patron saint.
Great Blessing Of Water
The service for the Great Blessing Of Water was held this week. During the service, lighted candles are dipping into the water to be blessed three times as the priest recites these words, "For You are our God, Who by fire and water, through Elijah, freed Israel from the errors of Baal."
Here we see Father Andrew "breathing on the waters." He does this three times while saying "As the same God, O Master, now sanctify also this water by your Holy Spirit."
While the Troparion of the feast is sung, Father Andrew plunges the Cross into the water three times.
Follwing the service, Father Andrew blessed each of the parishioners with the Holy Water and they were allowed to partake of it and take some home if needed.
Children's Sermon On The New Year
This month's children's sermon focused on the new year resolutions. Father Andrew asked the children about all the bad habits that they should change. He wrote them on the back of an old calendar and threw it in the trash. He then took a new calendar and asked the children to make resolutions about good habits they would develop this year. He wrote these on the back of a new calendar and asked the children to try to do these things during the year. He also spoke about having their houses blessed and how Jesus visits homes when they are blessed. He said that Jesus wants to see children have good habits like going to church having their play room in order and doing their home work.
Vesperal Liturgy Of St. Basil And New Year's Eve Party
On New Year's Eve a Vesperal Liturgy was held. Following the Liturgy a loaf of St. Basil sweet bread (Vasilopita) was blessed. A golden coin was baked in the bread and slices were distributed to all present. The person getting the golden coin as tradition has it is supposed to have a blessed new year. Here we see Father Andrew blessing the loaf of bread.
Father Andrew cuts the bread to give each person present a piece.
Each person in turn comes up for their bread hoping that they would receive the golden coin.
This year Mike received the lucky slice of bread.
Here is a closeup of the coin which has a picture of St. Basil the Great on it.
Following the Liturgy, everyone gathered in the fellowship hall for the New Year's Eve Celebration. The hall was impressively decorated and our thanks go out to all those who worked so hard to make the celebration such a hugh success.
While waiting for dinner and munching on snacks we were entertained with music on the keyboard and background singing.
After a blessing by Father Andrew dinner was served consisting of prime rib, chicken, potatoes, and green beans almondine.
Following dinner we were treated to the very first performance of the newly formed St. Luke Band "Kruzin". Despite having only three practices they did a surprising wonderful job.
Jim, head of our security ministry, apparently in disguise as a drummer kept a watchful eve on the proceedings.
Obviously, there was no age limit on being a member of the band.
No Jim is no directing traffic, but he did a great job singing a jazz number for us. During the course of the night, many different parishioners came up and sang with the band.
While the band played others decided to trip the light fantastic on the dance floor.
While the band was on break people were invited to sing karoke.
This was a wonderful way to ring in the new year. For only twenty five dollars we received entertainment, a great meal, festive surrondings, fun, and Christian fellowship. We at St. Luke Parish would like to wish everyone a happy and blessed new year.