On April 30, on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, we had a beautiful service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:
“Dear brothers and sisters! On this Sunday after Pascha we honor holy Myrrh-bearing Women, righteous Joseph and Nicodemus who participated in the burial of our Lord Jesus Christ. Later some of them became the witnesses of His Resurrection, as we heard in today’s Gospel lesson. A huge stone was rolled against the door of the tomb where Jesus was laid, but when He rose from the dead the stone became rolled away. As we think today of that tomb of Jesus, other tombs come to mind – tombs where Jesus is buried today, strong tombs, heavily sealed, tombs that are designed to keep Jesus isolated from our lives.”
“An author who is known as “A Monk of Eastern Church” writes: “In many souls, Jesus seems to be buried as if in a sepulcher. He seems to be paralyzed, immobilized, even dead. He is covered by a heavy stone; the stone of sin, of ignorance, of indifference, the stone of bad habits that have accumulated over years.” Buried by those errors we cry out like the Myrrh-bearing Women: “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” (Mk. 16, 3).”
“The sin is the first stone by which we can cover Jesus in His sepulcher. Our sins don’t let us give our Lord a place in our life; they keep us away from Him. First of all, it happens when we let our sins rule over us. Then we serve sin, not our Lord. And second, when our sins, or a particular sin of ours, keeps us away from God.”
“The second stone is ignorance. What kind of ignorance buries Jesus? The ignorance about Him. Ignorance about our faith, ignorance about religious matters, ignorance about basic, but very important things in our life. Many people don’t know our faith, why we believe in this or in that. Many people don’t know the pious traditions: why we do certain things in our Church, what we are supposed to have in our Church… This is the great stone that keeps Jesus buried in the tomb. If you don’t know something – ask, inquire. Talk to the priest, ask or simply listen when the priest is telling you about it.”
“The third and the greatest of the stones is indifference. Indifference is what keeps Jesus buried in the terrible grave of apathy. A priest once stopped in a coffee shop and sat at a counter next to a man. The man glanced at the priest and asked where his church was. When the priest told him, he said, “That’s the church I go myself”. “Isn’t that strange?” the priest said, “I’ve been a rector there for five years and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you.” The man replied, “Come on, Father, I didn’t say I was a fanatic”. It is OK to be fanatic about football but there is something wrong with you if you are serious about Jesus. It is that kind of indifference that keeps Jesus buried. It is an extremely heavy stone and it needs to be removed if Jesus is to become a living presence in our lives.”
“In addition, there are the people who bury Christ in their hearts, in their souls. They are the people who tell us: “I may not come to church, but God is always in my soul”. It is a very popular attitude, especially among the Russian people. They don’t participate in the Liturgy. They don’t receive the Sacraments. They don’t support the work of Christ through His Church. They seldom pray and yet – they tell us – God is in their souls. Maybe He is! But then, that’s where they keep Him dead and buried.”
“If there are those today who claim that God is dead, it is also because we Christians have buried Him in our sins, in our ignorance, in our indifference, in our souls. And if we have buried God, there is no wonder why we are so anxious and worried people today.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Roll the stone away from the tomb and let the Risen Christ step out of our indifference, out of our sins, out of our ignorance, even “out of our souls” into our lives and see what happens as a result! See what power He brings! What joy! What peace! What love!”
The choir prayerfully performed the Aposticha of Pascha during the time of preparation for Holy Communion.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian stressing the main thoughts of his English homily. He also congratulated our ladies on the occasion of this Sunday which is the Orthodox Women’s day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.
Following the Rector’s sermon the Parish Warden, Olga Roussanow spoke and congratulated Archpriest Igor on his appointment as Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. She wished that the Lord may assist him to fulfill his new obedience as a superior official of our Church in the United States and an assistant to our local Bishop. Fr. Igor expressed his gratitude to the parishioners for their nice and heartfelt wishes and asked for their prayers, so he may worthily and effectively fulfill his new obedience.
Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. The toasts to the Rector due to his new appointment, as well as to our ladies were raised. At this time we also were happy to welcome our guests from the Syrian Orthodox community who visited our parish and were present at our service. They stayed for our trapeza and shared interesting information about their community suffering from the Islamic extremists in the Middle East.