On November 19, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, our Parish family gathered for a beautiful celebration. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he addressed the faithful with the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul is talking about us, Christian people, as about some kind of building. He says that we are “built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord…” (Eph. 2, 20-21). These words and these beautiful examples St. Paul used to convince the early Christians that all of them, both Jews and Gentiles, all those who converted to Christ, became united in Him as parts of one building. Both circumcised and uncircumcised, became fitted together in one community established by God”.
“We should admit that St. Paul is also talking about us. In Christ each one of us becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, because God dwells within us by His grace and because we are united with Him as members of His Body”.
“That understanding leads us to another idea that St. Paul conveys in today’s Epistle lesson. He is talking about the spiritual building of the Body of Christ, of the Church. We, as its members, are built on the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, and the cornerstone of the building is Jesus Christ Himself. In Him, says St. Paul, the whole building is fitted together (Eph. 2, 21). Thus, we are parts of the building which is the Church. We are the members of the greater Body which belongs to Jesus Himself. We are also members of God’s household, as St. Paul nicely put it in today’s lesson. He says, “You are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the Saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2, 19). If you really think about this, you may realize what a great thing it is! Some people dream of being members of a wealthy and influential family, some people wish they were born to rich and noble parents. Here we are, all of us, born to the family of Christ, members of God’s household! What family can be more powerful, what household can be wealthier?! We are the parts of Christ”.
“This kind of honor requires a lot of responsibility. That means, we have to be aware of the great role which is given to us. If God wishes to permeate all our life, we must be aware of that and cooperate with His grace in all moments of our existence”.
“One Christian preacher said once, “The real test of religion is life. To know whom you worship, let me see you in your shop, let me overhear you in your trade; let me know how you rent your houses, how you get your money, how you keep it, or how you spend… The test of your religion is your weekday life, your works, and not your words.” He was right. We need to practice religion not only by what we do in church, but also by what we do out of church: how we speak, how we earn money, how we treat our family. Of course, the Church is necessary. Here we meet Christ, here we are able to receive Him in the Eucharist. But in another way we meet Him also outside of church in everyone, even in least of our brethren. In the temple we receive Christ, but we need to bring Him out of the temple, into the world to reshape the world according to Christ”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! If we are members of God’s household, parts of the Body of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit, let us bring the Triune God to others. Our stay in the holy temple is like staying on Mt. Tabor. But Jesus did not heed the request of Peter to remain on the mountain. He descended into the valley to continue His ministry. Therefore, the purpose of our ascension through prayer and the Liturgy in the temple is that we may be transfigured with Christ and then descend from our “Temple mountain” into the valley of life to transfigure it with His grace and love”.
During preparation for Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed the Psalm 33.
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector reminded the parishioners about the celebrations during the next week. Particularly, he pointed out that we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving Day which is a secular holiday but it has a great religious meaning. We need to be grateful to God for all his blessings shed upon us in this life.
Then Fr. Igor announced that soon he is going to leave our parish and that he will no longer be our Rector. He will be celebrating his last Liturgy at St. George on the next Sunday, November 26. The parishioners will have the opportunity to say goodbye to Fr. Igor on that day, having a church service and Thanksgiving Luncheon with him.