27th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On December 10, on the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. On that day the Church celebrated feast of the Icon of our Lady of the Sign. The Rector preached a homily in Russian following the reading from the Holy Gospel.

In his homily the Rector interpreted the Gospel lesson assigned for this Sunday (Lk. 8, 10-16). He stressed that the woman who had been bent over for 18 years and who was healed by our Lord Jesus Christ is an image of the human race. The humanity had been bent over spiritually because of the condition called sin. Sin did not allow human beings to look at heaven. And in a physical sense mankind was suffering also because of sin, suffered infirmities and death. Citing St. Gregory of Nyssa the Rector pointed out that the humanity needed a Savior from that state. And that Savior, Redeemer and Physician came in Jesus Christ. However, sin still dominates over us if we give in and become slaves to our passions. Any sinful passion, any sinful habit deviates our soul and body, so they both suffer. Take any of them, for instance, drug or alcohol addiction: they ruin human life, bend it over, damage human soul and cause the body to suffer. Only divine grace can free us from such passions. We need grace, we need Christ. In the same way as He healed the woman in today’s Gospel, He may deliver us from our spiritual infirmity. To attain that we need to stay in the Church, which is a spiritual hospital.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English addressing the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also congratulated our young parishioner and altar server, Anton Malyshev, on the occasion of his past birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. At the end the Rector welcomed our former parishioner, Anastasia Flora who had moved to Dominican Republic and came to visit us on this Sunday.

26th Sunday after Pentecost. Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple

 

On December 3, on the 26th Sunday after Pentecost, our parish family gathered at St. George Church for a nice celebration. On that day we also observed feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple which had been transferred on Sunday from December 4. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the readings from the Gospel he preached a homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Our first Gospel lesson of today is telling us about a rich man whom God called fool (Lk. 12, 16-21). That man was certain about his future and thought that he may relax because his wealth secured him a lot of happy years to live. But, in fact, he had no future because that very night he was going to die. This is why God called this man a fool. Our second Gospel lesson, a reading always dedicated to the feasts of the Most Holy Mother of God, is telling us about a woman, named Mary who “has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10, 42). These two Gospel readings have a lot in common, so it is not difficult for us to think of them together.”
“The rich landowner in the first Gospel lesson did not do anything wrong or sinful. His error was in his trust in material things and in forgetting the reality of human life. Our Lord telling this parable pointed out that this man’s attitude is laying treasure for himself, instead of being rich toward God (Lk. 12, 21). It is not wrong to gain possessions or to be wealthy. But it is wrong to trust in those possessions and consider them the goal of life. It is also wrong and foolish to forget that our earthly life is limited, and we may not know the time of our passing away. But it is wise to become rich in the eyes of God which means to use his riches to serve God and other people.”
“Looking for such a way to please God and to become rich toward Him is choosing a good part which will not be taken away from us. The riches and possessions of that landowner from today’s Gospel were taken away from him when he died. But the riches gathered in the eyes of God will not be taken away. Mary in today’s second Gospel had also chosen a good part. She preferred to listen to the words of Jesus instead of being preoccupied with much serving, as her sister Martha did. Martha did not do anything wrong and sinful. In fact, she was doing a great thing trying to be hospitable to the Lord. But her serving was not something which would last forever. The meals or drinks or comfort she offered would not last. But the words of Jesus would remain in Mary’s heart. The difference between Martha’s part and Mary’s part is not the difference between right and wrong, but the difference between good and perfect. And our Lord came to this world to teach us to choose what is perfect.”
“However, most of us usually choose not a good part, but a worse part. Like that foolish rich landowner we prefer to put our trust in material things, in earthly concepts and in the life of flesh. It is understood because it is much easier to come down from the mountain than to climb it. The world gives us a lot of recipes of an easy life but none of them leads to eternity.”
“Today we celebrate feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple. This was a glorious and mysterious event in the early life of the Blessed Mother: She had been presented before the Lord in the Temple by Her holy parents, Joachim and Anna. They chose to give their only daughter away, to offer Her to the Lord and to leave Her to be instructed at the holy Temple. Of course, they were advanced in age and were not probably able to raise Her by themselves. But they probably could get help from their relatives and leave Mary in their home. However, they had chosen a good part. They had chosen what is perfect: to entrust their Blessed daughter to the Lord.”
“Unfortunately, nowadays many parents do not follow this perfect example. They fail to bring their children to the holy church, to make them participate in the life of the Body of Christ, to receive the Holy Sacraments. Some prefer sports practice or dancing lessons for their children on Sunday morning instead of the divine services. And the society does not acknowledge that problem at all, but instead, is encouraging this secular and godless attitude. Recently I have read that in Britain many Christian children who become orphan or taken from their parents, may be easily given to be raised in Muslim families. Thus we may see a lot of negative examples. But there are also positive examples when Christian parents raise their children in piety and bring them to the Church.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us imitate Mary and the holy parents of the Blessed Mother and choose a good part which will not be taken away from us. Let us try to choose what is not just “good”, but what is perfect. And those perfect and spiritual things will last forever. Let us also love the holy temple of the Lord and attend it to live spiritual life and to gain in the temple what is everlasting and really secure. Let those spiritual gains of ours become our treasures in heaven that would await for us there, because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6, 21).”

The choir was prayerfully performing for the first time of this year the pre-Nativity hymns, as well as the hymns of the feast of the Entrance.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed a rite of glorification in front of the icon of the feast. The Rector then preached a short sermon in Russian to convey main ideas of his English homily.

25th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 26, on the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of St. John Chrysostom, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.

After the Scripture readings the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He addressed the parable of the Good Samaritan contained in the assigned Gospel lesson and pointed out that this parable reveals for us the mystery of eternal life. We need to show mercy, love and compassion to inherit eternal life. We need to help those who need, regardless whether these people are our friends or enemies. Unfortunately, people are divided and prejudiced. And we are much more capable of persecuting others. Commemorating St. John Chrysostom we should recall that he was persecuted at the end of his life – persecuted not by some pagans, heretics or atheists, but by Orthodox Christians and his fellow citizens. Being a good shepherd of his flock and an honest preacher, Holy Father John was hated by the powerful elite of Constantinople. He was exiled and died far from home because his enemies forgot the attitude of Good Samaritan, but lived by sinful desires. Christ teaches to see our neighbor in everyone who is in need, even in an enemy. If we are not going to have hatred in our hearts, we will be along with God, and God will be with us, thus we are going to have eternal life.

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns dedicated to St. John Chrysostom during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a brief sermon in English conveying the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also wished everybody a good beginning of the Nativity fast which starts in two days.

After the service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals including fish soup, pelmeni and turkey continuing celebration of the past Thanksgiving Day in parish environment.

24th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 19, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish family gathered for a nice liturgical celebration. Our service was headed by the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the Gospel lesson of the Divine Liturgy he preached the following homily in English:

“The Gospel lesson assigned for today is describing two miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: healing of the woman with an issue of blood and resurrection of a girl who just died. Interestingly, both these miracles were performed on women, the one of which was adult and having specific female health problems, and another was a young girl, a 12 year-old, who have just reached the age of maturity according to the Jewish law. Therefore, the Lord Jesus shows His abundant love and immeasurable mercy to the women, just as He shows them to all human kind.”
“Any Gospel lesson can be compared to a treasure chest containing a lot of precious stones and jewels. Any Gospel story can be studied and interpreted in many different aspects. As we said, today’s Gospel, apart from revealing the great power of our Lord to heal the sick and to raise the dead, shows us the Savior’s mercy to the women. And if we reflect further, we may learn something more.”
“First of all, we can learn from Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue whose daughter was sick and died. Our Lord preached in that synagogue in Capernaum but many of the people present there did not accept His teaching. They looked for any reason to condemn Jesus, to find a fault in Him. But one of them, Jairus, came to Jesus, fell at His feet and begged Him to come to his house to heal his daughter (Lk. 8, 41). He later was so patient that he waited when Jesus healed the woman in the crowd and spoke with her. Imagine, his daughter was dying, but Jairus never pushed Jesus to hurry up. He patiently waited believing in the power of Christ. And the Lord knowing his heart, granted Him mercy according to his faith. And the faith of Jairus was not in vain: his great sorrow had changed to a great joy. Therefore, we can learn from Jairus to be patient, to be trusting God and believing in God’s power and mercy.”
“Another aspect of today’s Gospel is about the healing of the woman with an issue of blood. She became healed by touching the hem of the Lord’s garment. Thus she believed so much that she did not even ask Jesus, but only touched his cloth. Apart from teaching us about the importance of faith, this example serves us as a foundation of our belief in the holy objects, the icons and especially the holy relics of the Saints. Let us recall how the shadow of Holy Apostle Peter or the garments of Holy Apostle Paul could heal the sick. Let us recall how many miracles were done through the miraculous icons of the Most Holy Mother of God, through Her precious garments and even Her precious belt! Every icon and every piece of cloth belonging to a holy person contains the divine grace given to us if we venerate it with faith.”
“The third reflection we may have today is regarding those who were the witnesses of the miracle when the Lord raised the young girl from the dead. The Gospel says that when Jesus came to the house of Jairus, the girl died and the people wept and mourned for her. When the Lord told them not to weep, they did not listen but ridiculed Him (Lk. 8, 52-53). In the same way nowadays many people make fun of religion and of our faith in the Word of God. Therefore, the Lord put those people all outside. He permitted only His three closest Disciples and the girl’s parents to come in (Lk. 8, 51-54). Only those who believed were the witnesses of the miracle. Only they were worthy of seeing that great work of the Lord. Others who had no faith were unworthy to be present. Thus the holy and great things are not accessible for those who have little or no faith. This is why many people complain that God never shows them His miracles, never appears to them. This is because of their lack of faith. For God shows Himself only to those who really believe. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine”, says the Lord (Mt. 7, 6).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us study the Word of God. Let us find precious treasures of spirit in every Gospel lesson we hear in the church. Let us be grateful for the Lord’s mercy towards the human kind, to men and women. Let us imitate the faith of Jairus and of the woman with an issue of blood, so we can be granted according to our faith. Let us also be worthy of God’s revealing us His great works by firm faith, trust and humility.”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the main thoughts of his English homily. He also wished the parishioners a happy Thanksgiving Day and expressed a desire that we would first remember to give thanks to God for all His blessings and then indulge ourselves by feasting at the holiday table.

23rd Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 12, on the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.

Following the Gospel lesson the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He pointed out that man possessed by the evil spirits in the Gospel story assigned for this Sunday (Lk. 8, 26-39) is an image of our passionate and sinful soul. We are often possessed by many passions. Those passions are our demons whose name is “legion”. Different vices like anger, lie, laziness, drunkenness may overcome our will. Being dominated by those passions we do strange and terrible things and later may be surprised that we do them. But the power of Christ can liberate us from those passions, just as this power healed the demoniac in today’s Gospel lesson. Our sinful soul can be freed in repentance, in reception of the Sacraments and by living spiritual life. We need to stay with Christ, to be in His Church which is a hospital for our spiritual infirmities. We also should do as the healed demoniac did. He wanted to stay with Christ, but the Lord told him: “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you” (Lk. 8, 39). We read that he went his way and preached. Thus he became the disciple of Christ and a preacher of the Gospel. Since we declare that we are the followers of Christ, we need to preach our spiritual successes, to preach what great things God has done to us. We may do it directly, by telling others about our spiritual life or we may do so by being an example of righteous living.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English to stress the main points of his homily.

Following the liturgical service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour. Our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow was congratulated on the occasion of her past birthday. She was presented by a picture portrait of her own, artistically made by the Malyshew family. Maria Malyshew was also congratulated on her past birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed and the toasts raised to these parishioners.

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 5, on the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Apostle James, brother f the Lord, we had a beautiful celebration in our Parish. In the absence of our Rector the Divine Liturgy was served by Priest Mark Rashkov, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral.
Following the Gospel lesson Fr. Mark preached a homily.

21st Sunday after Pentecost

 

On October 29, on the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, in the absence of the Parish Rector, our services at St. George Church were celebrated by Archpriest Alexander Golubov, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral. He was co-served by Deacon Alexey Golubov.
Following the Gospel lesson Fr. Alexander preached a homily.
After the service clergy and parishioners enjoyed a nice company and delicious food at the coffee hour.

20th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On October 22, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, and feast of the Holy Apostle James, we had a nice celebration at our parish temple. In the absence of our Rector the Divine Liturgy was served by Priest Mark Rashkov, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral.
Following the Scripture lessons he preached a homily on the appointed Gospel reading.

18th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of St. Sergius of Radonezh

 

On October 8, on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as commemoration of the repose of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, our Parish family gathered for a liturgical celebration. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.

Following the Scripture readings the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He pointed out that the Gospel lesson assigned for this day is about our trust in God. Apostle Peter expressed his human opinion when Jesus told him to try to catch more fish after a night of futile fishing. But he also said, “Nevertheless, at Your word, I will let down the net” (Lk. 5, 5). This situation reminds us of our own life. Often we prefer to act according to our own will, our own understanding of things, not by God’s. The precepts of the Lord tell us not to lie, but we lie and cheat. They tell us to love and forgive, but we are holding grudges and look for revenge. Even the very Christian religion seems to be unpractical to some of the people because it teaches to love your enemy and to forgive while it is not the way most people act. If we do so, we exclude a possibility of a miracle to happen in our lives. Apostle Peter agreed to listen to Jesus despite his human certainty that no fish will be caught, and a miracle happened – the Apostles caught a lot of fish.
The word “nevertheless” is very important here. It is a crucial word in Christian life if it is followed by our trust in God. Let us recall what happened when our Lord was crucified: all the forces of evil were against Him. Judas betrayed Him, the high priests condemned Him, Pilate withdrew and washed off his hands, the crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!” Nevertheless, on the first day of the week what happened? Christ’s Resurrection. On the third day Jesus rose from the dead.
Therefore, we need to trust in God and to build our life according to the word of God. Then a miracle may happen in our life, just as it happened with Peter. And in all our pains and sorrows we should always remember that important word “nevertheless” because the power of Christ may overcome everything and turn evil into good.

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns in honor of Venerable Sergius during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English stressing the main thoughts of his Russian homily.

Sunday after Exaltation. Celebration of the Rector’s Name Day

 

On October 1, on the Sunday after Exaltation, we had a beautiful service in our parish temple. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. He was co-served by Deacon John Peters, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral. Following the Gospel lesson the Rector delivered the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today is Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and thus the Gospel lesson is about taking up a cross to follow Christ. It also contains an interesting statement: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mk. 8, 36). If our Lord Himself uses such earthly words as “profit” and “gain”, let us make a conclusion using the similar vocabulary: Jesus says that gaining the whole world and losing one’s soul is the world’s worst bargain.”
“Let us imagine, for a moment, that man gains the whole world. It cannot keep him from trouble; it cannot give him peace; it cannot comfort him in sorrow; it cannot purchase him immortality and it cannot secure him a place in heaven when he is gone. All he can do with the world, is to keep it until he dies; he cannot carry any of it with him to the other life. This is why we may hear of the people who are well-known, who are the celebrities, but who commit suicide although they live a very wealthy life. Their treasures don’t even give them a happy life here. And, of course, they don’t give them eternal life.”
“Our greatest treasure is our soul. Therefore, to lose it would be to lose the most valuable thing we may possess. Even the Gentiles could understand that. When a thief stole his lamp, the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “It is the thief who loses. I bought a lamp; it cost me a few pennies. But it cost thief his soul”. We lose our souls when we are no longer alive to God and to His love. We lose our souls when we place some other person or thing at the center of life. We lose our souls when we move away from God and no longer experience the power of His presence. And we lose our souls when we feel there is no longer any hope of forgiveness. It was to keep us from losing our soul that God sent His Son to be our Savior. Through Him no person need to loose his soul. Through Him, the door to salvation is always open. Through Jesus we can now become alive toward God and toward our fellow humans. Through Jesus we can gain treasures far greater in value than the entire universe.”
“The Gospel today tells us how to follow Jesus and how to prepare for heaven. The Lord says, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mk. 8, 34). If we wish to save our souls, the secret is to deny oneself. It doesn’t mean we need to deny our personality, ourselves as human beings. It means to deny what is sinful and corrupt. It means to say “no” to sin. It means to say “no” to anything that stops on our way to salvation. A famous violin player was asked, what was the secret of his marvelous success. He replied, “Planned neglect. I deliberately neglect other things in order to concentrate on the one task that is all-important”. What makes a great chess player? Planned neglect. What makes a great writer? Planned neglect. What makes a great Christian? Planned neglect of the less important things in life in order to concentrate on the all-important call of Jesus: “Follow Me.””
“If we really follow the Lord, He will bless us and secure our eternity. He says, “Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk. 8, 35). Losing one’s life for Jesus equals saving it for eternity; it equals gaining eternal life. Returning to an earthly business vocabulary we may say that investing our life in following Christ is to make a good deal. It is to get eternal security. A man once prayed, “Lord, tie me to something eternal. I tie to houses and lands, stocks and bonds, and by some turn of fate, I lose them. I tie myself to a loved one, and a single microbe comes and death snatches her away. I tie myself to a friend, and the friendship vanishes. Lord, tie me to Your program, to service to Your Kingdom, to You, God, that I might be tied to the eternal”.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Being tied to God, the soul finds eternal security. Therefore, let us listen to the words of the Holy Gospel and deny our sinful nature and its inclinations. Let us say “no” to sin and to all that could prevent us from being saved. Let us tie our life to our Savior Jesus Christ, our only Hope who can grant us eternal life and make us gain His everlasting Kingdom!”

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns dedicated to the Holy Cross during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian conveying main ideas of his English homily.

Following the Rector’s sermon our Sacristan Andrew Malyshew congratulated Fr. Igor on the occasion of his coming name day and of his 10th anniversary of serving as Rector of St. George. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. Fr. Igor expressed his gratitude to the parishioners for their greetings, as well as to Fr. John for coming to participate in this celebration. The Rector also praised the choir for a beautiful singing.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and an interesting conversation.