18th Sunday after Pentecost


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!


17th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 20, on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost we had a service in our temple. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Gospel he preached a homily:
“Today we heard the words of St. Paul recalling God’s promises to the people. The Apostle recites the words of the Lord said to Moses: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Lev. 26, 12; 2 Cor. 2, 16). These promises were given by God Himself to His chosen people of Israel. St. Paul assures that the same promises are now given to us, the New Israel, the members of the Christian Church.”
“In our times we do not like to believe the promises given to us by other people. A famous senator said to his son, “Son, there are two qualities that will get you far in government: integrity and astuteness. By integrity I mean if you ever give your word, keep it. By astuteness, I mean don’t ever be stupid enough to give your word.”

“God both gives His word and keeps it. Some famous Orthodox preacher gives us a very modern and American example: a bank check. A check is a man’s promise to pay. It depends totally upon the person who signs it, upon his integrity, his word. When you have confidence in a man, you take his check as readily as cash. Then you endorse it. But if you refuse or forget to endorse it, it becomes just a piece of paper.”
“The Scripture is full of the great promises made by God. They are backed by God’s name, God’s integrity, God’s tremendous powers. Each one of these promises is for you. They are like checks made out to you bearing God’s signature. All that is required that you have enough faith in the signer to endorse the check, and to receive what is promised.”

“It is about these promises St. Paul speaks in today’s Epistle lesson when he says, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7, 1).”
“There are many false promises being made today by politicians. Recent economic crisis and other financial problems in the country and in the world show us that false promises are made by financial institutions. And we always knew that it is not wise to trust the fantastic claims made by the advertising industry. But these false promises make us not trusting to all other promises, especially to the one miraculous claim which happens to be gloriously true. That claim is that Jesus Christ saved us.”

“If we read the Scripture, we may see how the Lord fulfills His promises. In the Old Testament God promises to send His Savior. He says that the Messiah is to come of the family of David. The genealogy written in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew lists the fulfillment of this promise. The promise was that the Messiah would be born of a Virgin Mother. He was! The promise was that He will be born in Bethlehem, in Judea. He was! The promise was that He will be betrayed and sold for the thirty pieces of silver. He was! The promise was that He will die and that His side would be pierced. It was! And, finally, the promise was that Christ will be raised from the dead. He was! Therefore, St. Paul says, “All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen…” (2 Cor. 1, 20).”
“Understanding how true are the promises of God, let us also remember that for every promise there is a condition. St. Paul says that having such promises, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7, 1). In order to see the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives, we have to strive for perfection. God promised us salvation, but the condition for us is to believe in Him. The promise of God is to forgive us, but the condition is to repent and to forsake our sin. The promise is to give us whatever we ask, but the condition is that we should abide in the Lord. Thus, the fulfillment of God’s best promises depends on conditions: abiding in Christ, living with Him, surrendering to Him. God wishes to be our Savior, but He saves us only if we participate, if we work with Him. Recalling the example of a check, let us accept and endorse the ‘check’ given to us. Our works of faith and perseverance will be rewarded by the fulfillment of God’s promises.”

After the Liturgy we had our coffee hour and enjoyed delicious refreshments and a good company.

16th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 13, on the 16th Sunday after Pentecost we had a celebration at our temple. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Scripture readings he preached a sermon:
“In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul makes an interesting statement. He says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6, 2). In this way the Apostle urges his listeners to act upon their salvation, to receive the grace of God and to keep it, not to receive it in vain (2 Cor. 6, 1). In other words, we have to do the important things now, not some day.”

“Many people endure the present while they are waiting for something better to occur in the future. They believe that now they are doing some small things, but later their fate will open the door to something more important and significant… Some woman said, “I am living for that blessed day when my children grow up, my husband retires and I will get a little rest”. When her husband retired and the children were married and living in their own homes, this same woman was very unhappy person. She looked back to the time when her husband was working and the house was full of children as the happiest time of her life.”
“How often we miss the joy and the happiness of the present time because we keep thinking how much better it will be tomorrow. Thus, St. Paul reminds us, “Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation” Now, not tomorrow, is the time to live, to be saved, to be made whole.

“Our time on earth is limited. Every moment is unique and unrepeatable. Tomorrow is not ours; today is. Now is the time to do the works of mercy. Now is the time to say a prayer. Now is the time to pronounce the words of forgiveness. Now is the time to repent if we have sinned. Now – before our time runs out. Now is the most glorious period of life. God’s time is always now. “Now is the accepted time…””.
“This is why, dear brothers and sisters, we should not postpone our spiritual works, our prayers, our reception of the Sacraments, our acts of mercy and charity, our forgiveness and reconciliation with our brethren.”

“If a gambler says: “I must quit gambling. Tonight I am going to do it the last time, but tomorrow I will stop”. Such a gambler will never stop. But if he says, “I must quit gambling. I cannot speak for tomorrow, but as for today I am not gambling” Such a person will quit. If we postpone our action until tomorrow, this tomorrow may never arrive. Only ‘today’ is real.”
“There is a legend according to which Satan once called the demons to seek out a way to keep people away from God. One demon said, “Let’s tell people that there is no God”. Another said, “Let’s tell that God doesn’t care about right and wrong”. Finally, the third devil said, “Let them believe that there is God who cares about right and wrong. But let’s just keep whispering that there is no hurry”. And the demons agreed that this is the best way of eluding people. And Satan has been whispering to us, “Yes, of course, you must do all good things, but you don’t need to do them today. There is no hurry. Take your time and do it when you are ready.” In this way Satan is tempting us and keeps us from achieving most of good things we want and intend to do. This is the way the evil one is stopping us from receiving the grace, or makes us receive it in vain… Finally, when we approach the end of our lives, we realize, after it is too late, that we have achieved only a tiny portion of our potential, that we have done only a small bit of the good we intended to do.”

“How often we hear people say, “I wish I had time for church, for prayer, for the Bible”. We do have time! God gives it to us. Each morning, 24 hours are presented to us. We must never be too busy to sit at Jesus” feet, nor too preoccupied to go out and serve Him. Because there will come a time at the Judgment seat of Christ when we shall have to give an account of what we did with all our days and hours, which can never be repeated.”
After the Liturgy dismissal Fr. Igor reminded parishioners in English and in Russian language that on this day the Church commemorates two holy men who were the first bishops of the two local Churches: St. Gregory the Enlightener of Armenia and St. Michael, the first Metropolitan of Kiev. Both became the first heads of the local Christian Churches, Armenian and Russian. The history showed how things can change. The Armenian Church which once was the Church of the first Christian nation in the world history, separated from the universal Orthodoxy. But the Russian Church preserved Holy Orthodox faith. This also proves St. Paul to be right when he says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6, 2). We have to do the right thing at each moment in our life, in our history. We have to keep fidelity to the Holy Orthodox Church like those two Saints whom we honor today.

15th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 6th, on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, we had our services at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy.
After the Scripture reading Fr. Igor preached a homily:
“Reading the Epistles of St. Paul we always learn about Christian life. We discover what it means to be a Christian. On the last two Sundays we were reflecting upon the notion of being a new creation in Christ, being crucified to the world and that Christ should live in us. Today’s Epistle lesson is telling us some other interesting aspects of Christian life.”

“St. Paul says that through Jesus Christ God let His light shine in the hearts of men (2 Cor. 4, 6). This is a special ability, a special gift from God. His light may shine in our hearts, Jesus can live within us, the divine grace is given to us. But, as St. Paul goes further, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4, 7). ‘Earthen vessels’ mean vessels of clay, clay jars. That means that we are earthly people, we have our material bodies which are subject to corruption and death. We cannot live this earthly life forever. Our bodies are like clay jars which may be easily broken. In addition, our souls are also corrupt by sin and attached to our bodies and our earthly desires. They are also vulnerable like those earthen vessels. The treasure of divine grace is held in us like in earthen vessels.”
“St. Paul tells us that entrusting such a gift to the earthen vessels is necessary. He says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4, 7). We should realize our infirmity and our imperfection, to be humble. We should not become too proud and should understand that our faith and the grace are coming from God, and not from our own merits.”

“Living like those earthen vessels make our life difficult. It is even more difficult to live a true Christian life. But if we think about it, we may realize that God never permits us to be annihilated, to be totally destroyed and to be tempted more than we can endure. Therefore St. Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Cor. 4, 8-9). The Apostle goes further and says that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh”. He says that although death is working in us, life also works (2 Cor. 4, 11-12). Commenting on those words St. John Chrysostom wrote that these trials mentioned by the Apostle show both the power of God and, more, disclose His grace. Christian life is a victorious one, but not trouble free. We need to endure all kinds of trials in order to become worthy of our Lord who also underwent sufferings but became the Conqueror of death.”
“At the end, as St. Paul reminds us, “He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us” (2 Cor. 6, 14). Our earthly lives will end, our earthen vessels will be destroyed, but God will restore both our lives and our bodies at the end of time, so we can be presented at the second coming of His Son. Our trials and troubles, if we suffered them as true Christians, will not be in vain. We will be living eternal life. We will no longer have the treasure held in earthen vessels but in the vessels which will last forever.”

“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be humble and appreciate that God entrusted His treasure, His divine gifts, to be held in our earthen vessels. Let us endure and persevere in our trials, tribulations and temptations of this life. Let us keep in mind that at the end God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us up, so we may be given life eternal.”
At the end of the Liturgy Fr. Igor greeted our parishioner and Parish Treasurer Vera Koretz on her past Name day (September 30th) and wished her God’s blessings and intercession of her heavenly patron, Holy Martyr Vera (Faith). The choir sung “Mnogaya leta”.

After that greeting our Warden Olga Roussanow congratulated the Rector on his past Name day, commemoration of St. Igor of Chernogov (October 2nd), wishing Fr. Igor God’s help in his service to the Holy Church and St. George Parish, a spiritual joy and success. The choir sung “Mnogaya leta” to our Rector.
Following the services all joined at our delicious trapeza and could again congratulate Fr. Igor and Vera.