On October 27, on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost St. George Parish family had a nice celebration. This time it combined several festive occasions.
At the Divine Liturgy served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov we celebrated Sunday resurrection joy and honored the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. After the Scripture readings Fr. Igor preached a homily interpreting the Epistle lesson:
“The first Epistle lesson for today is about giving. St. Paul teaches the Corinthians saying, “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart…” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Thus, today we will talk about the way we should give to the Church and how St. Paul instructs us to give.”
“Speaking of giving leads us to talk about money. We all heard a saying, “Money talks”. This words are sometimes true, and not always in a negative sense. For instance, the way we spend our money will say a lot about us, about our preferences. If a biographer wanted to write a book about you, he would want to review your old financial records, for instance, your old checks. They could tell him what kind of person you are. He could find out that you are a member of the church. But suppose that in looking through your checks and other records he learned what your income is, and discovered that in a typical year you spend one percent of your income for God’s work and ten percent for your personal luxuries. Then he would probably be justified to write that you loved the Lord in the amount of 1 dollar per week and loved your personal luxuries in the amount of 10 dollars per week. Money talks! It tells what kind of people we are, what we value most in life, what we love and care for most.”
“Our church giving is very often much less than our spending for our different needs. This is why it is important to understand that our giving has to be proportionate to what we have. The important thing in Christian giving is not “how much” we give, but “how much in comparison to our ability”. A gift does not need to be large in order to be significant. It is great or small in proportion to the amount of other things we possess. One of the greatest examples of Christian giving is the poor widow who came in to the Temple one day and gave “all that she had”. It was not very much, just two copper coins, but the Lord said about her, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all of those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mk. 12, 43-44).”
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us give proportionately as God blessed us. And let us give lovingly. The Christian giving is a personal commitment to Christ. Therefore, if you don’t love God, don’t give. God does not need a support from those who do not really care. But if you do care about the Church, about God’s work, let your giving be some indication of your love.”
“Give proportionately, give lovingly, give generously. St. Paul says, “He who saws sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who saws bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9, 6). When it comes to giving to God and His work, if you must make a mistake, make it on the side of generosity, as you would if you loved one were in need and asked you for something. Make a mistake on the side of going beyond what is practical and try what is spiritual. Then if you saw bountifully, you will reap bountifully. Give abundantly and you will receive abundantly.”
“Today’s final advice of St. Paul to us is to give gladly. He says, “Let each one give… not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Give from your heart, give cheerfully. Even a dog knows the difference between reluctant and cheerful giving. Throw him a bone and he will go away without wagging his tail. But call him kindly, pat him and then give him a bone, and he will go away with a wagging tail. In both cases it is the same act of giving a bone. But the way, the spirit of giving makes a difference.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us then ask ourselves how do we give to God? Do we give proportionately? Do we give to Him lovingly, generously, gladly? Do we give Him not only our money but also our energy, our talents, our abilities, our time, our very lives? If our giving to God is proportionate, loving, generous and cheerful, then God, as St. Paul teaches us, will provide for us with His blessings. St. Paul assures us that we will be “enriched in everything… which causes thanksgiving through us to God” (2 Cor. 9, 11). If our giving is abundant, God’s giving to us will be even more abundant.”
At the end of the Liturgy Fr. Igor reminded parishioners that on October 27 the Church commemorates Venerable mother Paraskeva, a Saint very much honored in the Balkan countries, as well as in Moldova and Western Ukraine. One of our parishioners and our altar server, Elisej Flora today celebrates his home, or family Patronal feast. It is a Serbian tradition to celebrate feast of a family Patron Saint (called “Slava”). Ven. Parakeva is Elisej’s family Patron Saint. On that occasion Fr. Igor congratulated Elisej Flora and his wife Anastasia and wished them God’s blessings, intercession of Ven. Paraskeva and many happy years. The choir sung traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaya leta”).
Fr. Igor also congratulated our guest Paraskeva who celebrated her name day, and proclaimed the singing of Polychronion for her.
Following the Liturgy the Rector headed the rite of “Slava” for Elisej and Anastasia Flora. He blessed and symbolically cut the offered bread (“kolach”) pouring wine on it. Hymns in honor of St. Paraskeva were sung. Fr. Igor congratulated the Flora family again.
After all our services Rector and parishioners joined at the table for a celebration of today’s festivities. We enjoyed a warm company and delicious meals, as well as congratulated the people who celebrated their family and personal feast in honor of St. Paraskeva.
Holy Mother Paraskeva, pray for us!