On June 7 of this year all Orthodox Christians celebrated Pentecost, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Our St. George Church had a beautiful celebration which had to be held observing the restrictions imposed during the outbreak of the disease. The church was nicely adorned with greenery. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.
After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:
“Today we celebrate the great feast of the Pentecost, the Descending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. What a great and interesting event! It is so colorfully described in today’s Epistle reading: the Disciples are being together in an upper room of a house on Pentecost, then they hear a great noise and the Holy Spirit appears as the tongues of fire descending upon the Apostles and resting on them. As a result they begin speaking different tongues, languages. But the Gospel lesson of today gives us a different story”.
“In today’s Gospel reading of St. John we hear how Jesus was preaching on the Holy Spirit He was promising to His followers. Jesus said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow the rivers of living water.” (Jn.7,38). Holy Apostle John the Theologian further explains that in such a way Jesus “spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.”(Jn.7,39). And he also explains that “the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”(Jn.7,39). This should be understood in the way that the Holy Spirit will become a source of spiritual life and nourishment for those who is willing to acquire life in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “thirsty” for spiritual life”.
“But when we further listen to the today’s Gospel story, we learn about a number of misunderstandings and divisions among the people who heard the preaching of Jesus. People express different opinions about Him, some even wish to take and imprison Him. We have to listen to a number of arguments between the Jews concerning Jesus”.
“What does it teach us? It certainly tells us how hostile were some Jews to Jesus and His teaching. But it also tells us about human divisions and differences. We are divided for many reasons. Today’s festal kontakion says, “When the Most High came down He confused the tongues dividing all nations…” People had been divided because God confused their tongues, made them speak different languages. We still do so, we are still very much divided. See how many opinions, political movements, finally, religions exist. Lately we were witnessing the unrest and riots in this country and in this city because some evil people wish this society to be divided. They use the issue of race to make people hostile to each other, to raise the hatred among them. This is very sad and disturbing, and it convinces us again how much the human kind is divided, divided for many reasons”.
“In addition, we should also recall the most astounding division of the human kind, the division between the living and the dead. Yesterday we celebrated Memorial Saturday and had to pray for our loved ones who had fallen asleep. And today, on this festal day, we will also mention the deceased in our kneeling prayers. This is a very serious division between those who live in this world and those who are no longer living among us”.
“But God finally wishes us to be united. This is why on the day of Pentecost He sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Those Holy Apostles were representatives of the human kind. Through Jesus Christ and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit we all must be united despite our differences, even despite whether we are living or departed, for in God there is no dead, but everybody is alive. Today’s kontakion continues: “But when He distributed the tongues of fire, all men He called to unity…” Thus the Almighty God who Himself is the unity of Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, calls us to the unity in faith, hope and love”.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease. After the Litany he also offered a special prayer for the deliverance from pestilence.
The choir piously performed the hymns of the feast during the preparation for Holy Communion.
Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of Glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the festal icon in the middle of the church. Then the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian stressing the main thoughts of his English homily. He also congratulated the two persons present who recently celebrated their name day, including our youngest parishioner, Elena Malyshev. A traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was performed and the Theotokian prosphora was divided and distributed to them.
After the Liturgy the Rector served Pentecostal Vespers with kneeling prayers.