On February 15 the Orthodox Church celebrates great feast of the Meeting of the Lord. On that day we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today the Church celebrates the great feast of The Meeting of our Lord. The Gospel lesson for that day relates how the mother of Jesus brought Him to the temple, as was the custom and requirement under the God-given Law of Moses, of Israel (Exodus 13:2, 12; Leviticus 12:2-8). When the righteous Simeon, who received Christ in his arms at the temple, saw the child he knew immediately that this was the Redeemer promised by all of Israel’s prophecies, for the elder was inspired by the Holy Spirit (Luke 2:26-27). Being inspired he himself uttered prophetic words which form the hymn sung or chanted at the end of every Vespers service: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32)”.
“This particular feast is part of the great celebration that began forty days prior, with the Nativity of Christ. Eight days later we remembered the Circumcision of Christ and then His Baptism. The commemoration of these events in our Lord’s earth life basically form one feast, the feast of the Incarnation of God the Word”.
“God literally entered the world, into time and history. He was physically present in the midst of His people, His creatures whom He loves. Our Lord took on human nature in order to reconcile unto Himself, man who had strayed far from the Source of his life”.
“In taking on the “form of a servant” God, at the same time, in the Person of Christ, fulfilled every requirement of the Law that He Himself had given to His people through Moses. He demonstrated that everything that had happened in Israel’s history could not be described merely as a succession of unrelated events. Rather this was a history with a definite goal: the salvation of mankind. And the history of salvation may be called the history of the meetings with the Lord, the history of our encounters with our God and Creator. Thus, the name of today’s feast sounds very meaningful”.
“We celebrate a Meeting of the Lord with Himself in His Temple. We also celebrate a meeting of the elder Simeon with his Savior. When the righteous Simeon took the child into His arms and declared that this indeed was Salvation Incarnate, the “Light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Israel”, a new era began; the era of God’s presence among His children”.
“To this day, all of the Church’s celebrations, no matter what the event commemorated may be, whether in the life of Christ, of the Theotokos, or of the Saints, all are celebrations of Christ and the establishment on earth of the Kingdom of His presence. He initiated this Kingdom and promised its fulfillment. And now, just as the Old Israel had awaited the beginning of God’s Kingdom, the New Israel (the Church) awaits the second and glorious coming of Christ and the fullness of His Kingdom, revealed. That will be our last meeting with the Lord which hopefully for us, will never end”.
“Although all our worship is rooted in the knowledge of that meetings with the Lord, meetings in the past and our final meeting with Him in the future, we still do not live according to it. We Christians, in spite of having accepted a necessity of God’s presence among us, are constantly attracted by ways of seeking happiness and fulfillment that exclude God. So our lives go back and forth, between faith and indifference, between moments of real joy because we know that God is with us, and moments of boredom because we cannot give ourselves totally over to Him”.
“We all know that our meetings with the Lord can take place every time when we participate in the Church services, especially in the Divine Liturgy. However, such meetings do not happen for many, even for those who do come to the temple. Why? Because they come being unprepared, destructed or unworthy. Even if they think that they may get something out of their visits to the church, sometimes such thoughts are in vain. Righteous Simeon was preparing for the encounter with his Savior almost all his life. He was concentrated on that event and by his way of life he was worthy to have that encounter. And his expectation were not in vain”.
“Basically what is important for us Christians is that we have really “seen the True Light, received the Heavenly Spirit, found the true faith” in this experience of being at the temple. Let us imitate the holy people, people like righteous Simeon and Anna the prophetess who awaited the consolation of Israel, but in fact awaited the salvation “before the face of all peoples”. Let us await our meeting with the Lord, let us be prepared for it, so our expectations will not be in vain. To Christ Who willed to be held in the arms of the righteous Simeon for our salvation be glory, honor and worship, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen”.
The choir director nicely performed hymns of the feast during preparation for Holy Communion.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed glorification of the feast singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Meeting before the festal icon.