Sunday before the Exaltation

On September 23rd, on Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross, Rector of St. George Church, priest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.

 Fr. Igor preached a homily after the Gospel lesson. He said that the assigned reading from the holy Gospel mentions the events from the Old Testament history. It says that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (Jn. 3, 14). “Our Lord Jesus Christ recalled that to teach His disciples about His own mission in the world, the mission of salvation. And He compared His mission to the mission of Moses who led the chosen people of God from the Egyptian captivity to the promised land. The Jews were wandering in the wilderness for the long 40 years. But God was taking care of them. He gave them food and water, He provided for His people. But the people complained and regretted that they left Egypt where they had a lot of food. They forgot that they were slaves in that country, and remembered only some good things they used to have there. A punishment for that ungratefulness to God and to Moses came soon. The Israelites came to an area full of poisonous snakes. Those serpents bit and kill a lot of people. Everybody could perish there if God did not stop that. God told Moses to make a copper snake and to raise it on a pillar. God told that any person who would look at the copper snake will not die of the poison.”
“This event is the symbol of what happened at Calvary, and a prophecy of what is going on with the whole human race. Desert is this earthly life. It is full of poisonous snakes. Evil bites any human from birth and up to the last hour of his or her life. Countless snakes surround human life from all the sides. These are the sins and passion that surround us.”
“We remember that when Adam and Eve, our ancestors, committed the first sin, they were tempted by a serpent. And when we may become bit by a snake? When we come into a close contact.  Adam and Eve sinned because they entered into a contact, a conversation with the snake. When we commit sins, we do the same. We converse with the snake… And it bites us with the deadly poison, it pours that poison right into our soul. And there is no cure to any man. No cure, if not a merciful God, who sends us not Moses, but His Onlybegotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Only if our gaze is turned to Christ, to His Cross, to the copper serpent of our faith, then we get healed. Just as the copper serpent had no poison, so Christ was similar to all of us, being one of us…”
“Let us also remember how such a salvation is actually obtained. It is obtained through the holy Church. Especially through the holy Eucharist. Only the Blood of Christ can heal us from the deadly poison of sin. We are redeemed, we are purchased from the slavery of sin and death by the Blood of Christ shed on the Cross. That Blood we partake in the Holy Church. Holy Communion is a great cure from our sins and temptations. It also works like the copper serpent.”
“Let us then, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, turn our spiritual eyes to the holy Cross of Christ, let us ask for the forgiveness and delivery. Let us remember that God redeemed us, purchased us with great price of His own Blood shed on the Cross. Let us receive His holy Body and Blood in Communion, so we would not die but have life everlasting.”

After the Liturgy our parishioners and Fr. Igor enjoyed delicious lunch. It had been recalled that these days our Rector marks his 5 years of serving at St. George. For this reason parishioners congratulated Fr. Igor at the table and had a toast to his health and success in pastoral ministry.

15th Sunday after Pentecost

On September 16th, on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church priest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Services began at 10 am due to our return to the winter schedule.
After the reading from the Gospel Fr. Igor preached a homily. He reminded parishioners that on September 14 the Church started the New Liturgical year. That date was set because according to the tradition it is a date of creation of the world. Therefore, the Jews also celebrate their New Year at this time of the year.
Explaining the Gospel lesson of this Sunday, Fr. Igor stressed that in this reading our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the main moral principle of our religion: to love God and to love your neighbor. To understand how we should love God, we have to understand how to believe in the true God.
“We have to believe in a God who is Love. For example, in other religions there is not the same god. Buddhists do not have a god: Buddhism is rather a philosophy, not a religion. Hindus believe in many gods, who try and do the strangest things. Muslims believe in a god who rewards warfare and acts of terrorism. Even the Jews whom we consider having the same religious roots as we do, believe in a quite different god, a god who takes revenge, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Only the Christian God is the Creator of all and also the God of Love.”
“The second commandment given by Christ is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Christ says that this commandment is like the first one. For if we are called to love the Creator, then we must surely also love His creation, including other people, who are made in the image and the likeness of God the Creator. In this commandment we are also called to love ourselves, not in the sense of selfishness and vain self-admiration, but as a gift of God. The lack of faith in the loving Creator always and inevitably leads to hatred of His Creation, that is, hatred of our neighbors, and then hatred of ourselves.”
To illustrate that statement Fr. Igor recalled that in the 19th century some German philosopher stated that “God is dead”. In the 20st century, within three generations of that man’s death, the leaders of his people had started two World Wars and performed acts of hatred and genocide. The leaders of the Russian people also adopted the thought of this philosopher, and they too carried out acts of hatred of their neighbors, killing a lot of people. And in the 21st century some people may go further and come to a killing of themselves, to a suicide. To avoid that we have to follow the words of the Psalm which says: “Seek God and your soul shall live”. We have to seek God and love our fellow-men. The two Commandments of love are like the sign of the cross where we have to parts: vertical and horizontal. They both have to be straight and long enough. Thus our love of God and love of our neighbor has to be present in our spiritual life. Then we will find God and live forever.
After the Liturgy our parishioners and the Rector enjoyed a delicious trapeza.