Ascension of the Lord


On May 29, on the feast of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church, celebrated Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Scripture lessons he preached a sermon:

“Today’s feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven has a great significance. Our Lord accomplished His mission of salvation and now He has to return to His heavenly abode. He lived a righteous life of a just Man, He performed glorious miracles, He taught the people, He humbled Himself to die on the cross. Then He was risen from the dead and instructed His disciples, being with them for 40 days. Now it is time for the Lord to return where He came from. Ascending into heaven Jesus takes there both His divine nature, as well as His human nature. Thus, our nature in Jesus is now in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus left the Apostles on earth, but He went to prepare a place in heaven for those who follow Him. These are the basic spiritual aspects of this important feast. But today’s Epistle lesson tells us a little different things regarding Ascension.”
“Today we read the very beginning of the book of the Acts of the Apostles. The writer, St. Luke describes the event of the Ascension. He says that the Lord commanded the Apostles “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father” (Acts 1, 4). By that Promise of the Father, Jesus meant the Holy Spirit Who was going to be sent upon the Apostles. To confirm that the Lord said, “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1, 5). The Holy Spirit was going to be poured out on the Apostles very soon. So, the first idea of today’s Epistle lesson is to wait for the descent of the Holy Spirit.”
“However, even after seeing the glory of the Lord in His Resurrection, even after
being instructed by Jesus for forty days after that glorious event, the Apostles still lived by the ideas of this world. They asked the Lord whether He at this time will restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1, 6). This was because they have not yet received that promised gift of the Father, the Holy Spirit Who would enlighten them and guide the Apostles in all spiritual matters. Instead of asking about eternal wisdom, they are wondering about earthly, political and temporary things. Jesus patiently instructs them saying, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1, 7-8).”
“Then in today’s Epistle lesson follows the description of the Ascension itself. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1, 9). Jesus was taken up, He was received by a cloud. We may note that clouds have a special meaning in the Scripture. They indicate the presence of God. A number of times in the Bible the clouds are mentioned when God appears to someone. A cloud enveloped Mount Sinai when Moses went up there to receive Ten Commandments. When our Lord transfigured on Mount Tabor also a cloud was there from which the Apostles heard the voice of God. As we also see, not only a cloud but a high place, a mountain indicates a special place where men can receive God’s revelation. The Scripture mentions a number of mountains where God revealed Himself or His will to the people. At this point, the Ascension took place on Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. Ascension was a special, supernatural, divine event.”

“But today’s Epistle reading is not so much concerned with the very event of the Ascension, as it is with the future life and deeds of the holy Apostles. As we said the Lord Jesus before being taken up to heaven instructs them regarding the future descent of the Holy Spirit. He commands them to wait for that Promise of the Father. And when He was ascended the Angels also advised the Apostles not to stand idly gazing into heaven, but to go and prepare themselves for receiving the precious gift of God. The Epistle tells us, “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? The same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner…”” (Acts 1, 11). The Apostles had to go and begin their ministry, begin to continue the mission of Jesus and await His second coming. They could mot stand gazing into heaven, but to prepare living Christ-like lives, as His servants, filled with the Holy Spirit.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters! Let us honor today’s feast. But let us not just stand staring up into heaven, but go and live Christian life, do the works of faith, love and charity. Let us acquire the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments of the Church. Let us live a Christ-like life awaiting the second coming of the same Jesus, who was taken up from us into heaven, and who will come in like manner as the Apostles saw Him go into heaven (Acts 1, 11).”

Upon the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers came out of the sanctuary to the middle of the temple and performed the rite of glorification before the icon of the feast. They sang troparion, kontakion and magnification of the holy day.

Summer Schedule

Please, note that beginning with Sunday, June 1 we switch to our Summer Schedule. Sunday services will start at 9:00 AM.
For more information please check our monthly Service Schedule.

Sunday of the Blind Man


On May 25, on the Sunday of the Blind Man we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached a sermon:

“In today’s Epistle lesson we heard an adventurous story about holy Apostles Paul and Silas who were put into an inner prison, but released by the keeper of the prison after the city was struck by an earthquake. The jailer asked them an important question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16, 30). Thus we are going to think about that question today.”
“There are many different questions we ask during our life. But there is one question above every other question, what to do to be saved. When we hear the word “saved” some people may think about earthly life. For instance, they may think of being saved from death or a misfortune. But even if we think of salvation in its spiritual, Christian sense, we may simplify that matter. We may think that salvation is escaping hell and achieving heaven. This is true, but it is very limited way to think of that. It puts the whole matter in the future, the time after we die or the time of the Last Judgment. As a result, we forget that we can be saved here and now while we are on this earth. Salvation of Christ is extended to our earthly life as well.”
“We may be wondering from what we may be saved here on this earth? We may be saved from different misfortunes, pains and sufferings of this life if we will be living with Christ. He will heal our pain, help us to solve our problems. Salvation is a process, not a fact. We are being saved, not already saved.”

“Then, along with the prison keeper of today’s Epistle lesson we may ask what must we do to be saved. Holy Apostles Paul and Silas answered and said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16, 31). The key to salvation is to believe in Jesus Christ. It means to rest the whole weight of your life on Jesus. It means to bet your whole life on Him. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned”, says the Lord (Mk. 16, 16). It is very clear. Yet some people are tempted to believe that man does not need Jesus as a Savior anymore. They say that science is so progressed today that it can save us from almost everything. Science is the new savior!”
“Man needs science. But science is not the savior. You cannot live by science alone. Science can modernize a house, but it can never turn a house into a home. Jesus can! Science can invent a medicine for the body, but it cannot heal a guilty conscience. Jesus can! Science can give man a great power, but not the moral strength to use this power wisely. Jesus can! His very name, the name “Jesus” means “God saves”. He is able to save. And we must believe in Him in order to be saved.”

“Today’s Epistle tells that the prison keeper and all his family were baptized (Acts 16, 33). If we believe we have to be baptized. Many of us were baptized when we were small children. Our godparents confessed belief in Christ for us. But if we are to be true Christians, there must come time in life when we must say these words for ourselves – a time when we ourselves decide to follow Christ as our personal Lord and Savior and commit our whole life to Him as our God. Unless this happens we are not Orthodox Christians. We are Christians in name only, or Christians by baptismal certificate only – to whom the Gospel of Christ means little or nothing. A baptismal certificate alone is not enough. Payment of church dues is not enough. Occasional church attendance alone is not enough. Believe, lean your whole life upon Lord Jesus Christ, and then you will be saved.”
“It took an earthquake to make the jailer ask Paul and Silas the question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Will it take another earthquake to make us ask the same question? Haven’t we had enough earthquakes? All the wars, the despair, the anxiety, the meaningless, the boredom, the immorality of our age? Do we need something more devastating than these to make us ask the question, “What I must do to be saved?” We must believe in Jesus Christ, live by that faith. Then we will live in the process of our salvation which will lead us from being saved now to being saved in the eternity.”

On that day our parish was visited by the Rector’s childhood friend, Mitered Archpriest Nicholas Florinschi who is serving in Chisinau (Kishinev), Moldova. Fr. Nicholas was praying at the Divine Liturgy and read the Epistle.

After the Liturgy dismissal Fr. Igor greeted our guest. He recalled that they together belonged to the same cathedral parish in their home city of Kishinev. While future priest Igor was a young boy, future Fr. Nicholas was an altar server and subdeacon serving to the Archbishop. He also stressed that still a lot of things unite him and our parish with Fr. Nicholas, including the fact that he is the Rector of a church also dedicated to Holy Great Martyr George. Answering to Fr. Igor’s greeting Fr. Nicholas expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and promised to maintain connection between our two St. George Churches.

Following the services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour.

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman


On May 18, on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Parish celebrated the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Scripture lessons he preached a homily:

“Today’s Sunday is dedicated to the Samaritan woman who had a very serious and profound conversation with our Lord Jesus Christ described in today’s Gospel lesson (Jn. 4, 5-42). Jews and Samaritans were two hostile communities. But when they were becoming the followers of Christ, they became united in faith and had to forget their past differences. In Jesus Christ all became the same, for in Christ “there is neither Greek nor Jew” (Col. 3, 11). All the true followers of Christ are now called Christians. This is their most important name.”
“Today’s Epistle lesson tells us that the name “Christian” was first given to the followers of Jesus in the city of Antioch (Acts 11, 26). Scholars say that Antioch was known for its ability to produce names. Those names were usually given in derision and contempt. Antiochians called one of the Roman emperors “the Goat”. Thus the name “Christian” was given to the followers of Jesus as a nickname. The people of Antioch had many names in their resourceful language, but they had no name to cover this type of character. These followers of Jesus did things, said things, lived things unheard of in the history of the world. They lived purity, forgiveness, love, humility of Jesus. So, the Antiochians made a new name for these people in whom they saw the behavior of Jesus Christ. They called them in Greek
Christianoi – Christ people.  There was something so new about these people, something so refreshingly different, that they created a new name for them. “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11, 26).”
“The Christians took this name given in mockery and turned it into one of the most revered names in history. The name tells us something very important the Christian: that there is resemblance between Christ and the Christian. The Christian is first and foremost a Christ person.

“If someone were to ask you, “Why are you a Christian?”, what would you reply? Many would reply that they are Christians because they were born in a Christian family, or because they were baptized. This is not good enough. Some would say that they are Christians because they believe in God and try to do good. But to be a Christian means far more than that. To see exactly what it means let us go back to the first Christians, the holy Apostles. How did they become Christians? One day Jesus said to them, “Follow Me!” And they left their past life and past cares and followed Him.”
“Here we have the answer. A Christian is someone who follows Christ consciously and by personal choice, who responds to his call, who says “yes” to Jesus. First and always it is a relationship to a Person, not a code or philosophy. To be a Christian is to be committed to God in Christ. It is to be living member of His Body, the Church.”

“A little boy once asked his father, “What is a Christian?” The father, who knew the Bible well, described to his son what being a Christian really is according to the New Testament. When he finished explaining, the little boy said, “Father, have I ever seen a Christian?””
“The pagans in Antioch did see Christians. In fact, they saw Christ in His followers – so much so that they called them by the very name of Christ. Does the world today see something of Christ in us? Does it see the purity, love or forgiveness of Christ in us? Is our lifestyle, our words and deeds, bear a witness of our faith in Christ? Can anyone point to you or me and say, “This is a Christian!”? Can anyone look at our parish and say, “These are Christians”?”

“Dear brothers and sisters! Our Lord said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5, 16). Christians are people who shine before men. They shine by the light of Christ. It was because of such a light of Christ, because of such a Christ-like lifestyle that the early disciples of Jesus came to be called Christians. Let us ask ourselves whether anyone would be able to look at us and guess that we are Christians.”

Sunday of the Paralytic


On May 11, on the Sunday of the Paralytic, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily:

“On this Sunday the Scripture readings tell us about some examples of miraculous healings. In the Gospel lesson, Jesus healed the paralytic at the Pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (Jn. 5, 1-15). And in the Epistle lesson, the same power of Christ to perform healings is seen in holy Apostle Peter. St. Peter healed the paralytic named Aeneas and raised the woman named Tabitha from the dead. It is interesting that in each one of these three miracles the word “rise”, or “arise” is used. Jesus says to the paralytic, “Rise, take up your bed and walk” (Jn. 5, 8). St. Peter says, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make up your bed” (Acts 9, 34). He also says, “Tabitha, arise” (Acts 5, 40). The word “rise” is the key word in today’s Scripture readings. Therefore, today we are going to reflect upon this single but important word.”
“We may say that the whole message of the Holy Gospel is contained in that little word “rise”. Jesus was risen from the dead, so we have to rise. He raised us from the depths of sin and death to a new life of peace and power. When Peter began to sink into the sea because of his little faith, Jesus reaches out to raise him, as He raised us in the waters of Baptism lifting us from sin and death to a new life.”
“One of the images of the Resurrection shows the Lord as He victoriously rises from the tomb. It is a very popular image. It depicts Jesus alone or along with the Angels. This picture is known both in the Eastern and Western Church. Another icon, known only in the Orthodox Church, is in reality the icon of Christ’s Descent into Hell. The glorified Christ descends into the abyss. Even while the body of Jesus was in the tomb those three days, His love was active. He used that time to descend with His soul into the very depths of hell, into the abyss of death, to break the bonds of death and to proclaim there the good news of salvation. He, the Second Adam, the perfect Man reaches out to touch, renew and raise the First Adam, the man who had fallen from life, who dwelt in the land of the shadow.”

“That icon of the Resurrection shows Christ not standing alone, but raising, lifting Adam and Eve out of the depths through the broken doors of hell. He frees them, but at the same time He frees us. The hand that reaches out to grasp the hand of Adam reaches out to embrace the descendants of Adam as well. We are also bound by death, held captive by the power of sin. We too, have died and been cast out into the abyss. Yet the Risen Christ comes to us as to lost sheep, descending in His love to seek us out in the darkness and to raise us up with Himself. If we make our bed in hell, He is there, ever present, ever reaching out to raise us with Him into the glory of the resurrected life. From anxiety in the face of death, He raises us to an unshakeable hope in the resurrected life. From fear of the future, He raises us to undiminished joy. From loneliness and separation, He raises us to friendship with God. Because He is risen, He has the power to help us rise from the tombs of slavery, sin and death to fullness of life.”
“Some people say that religion is moonshine. They mean that it does not give enough light and heat, does not really help. But they forget that the power of the moon lifts trillions of tons of water each day to make the tides rise in the oceans of the world. In the moon there is a great power. Greater than the moon’s power is the power of Him Who created the moon. It is the power to help us rise from the deepest abysses in life.”

“Dear brothers and sisters! We all have troubles in life. We are all sinful. What we need more than anything else is power to rise above them. But we cannot rise above all troubles, and difficulties; we cannot rise from the depths of sin unless we have within us Him Who helps us rise, the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His power Aeneas was raised; Tabitha was raised; the paralytic by the pool at Sheep Gate was raised. This same Jesus gives us the power today to rise above whatever obstacles life can place in our way.”

Following the Liturgy dismissal Fr. Igor congratulated the ladies in the parish on the occasion of Mother’s Day which was celebrated in the United States on this Sunday. Traditional polychronion was sung.

Parish Patronal Feast of St. George


On May 6 the Church commemorates the Holy Great Victorious Martyr George, heavenly Patron of our temple. Our Parish had a solemn celebration of its Patronal feast. St. George Church’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served Divine Liturgy. It had been previously planned that our temple be visited by His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian. However, due to the flooding in our church building we were uncertain whether we will be able to serve on that day, thus the visit of His Eminence had to be cancelled.

Upon the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and altar servers came out of the sanctuary to the middle of the temple and performed the rite of glorification in front of the icon of St. George singing the troparia, kontakion and magnification in honor of the Saint.

Following the service Fr. Igor preached a short sermon in English and then in Russian language. He congratulated the faithful on the occasion of the glorious feast of our parish Patron, told about our recent problem with the flooding in the church which changed our plans for having the Archbishop and other clergy guests serving on this feast. The Rector then told a short story of life of St. George. This Saint was glorified by great miracles and he is very much honored by Christians in every Orthodox nation. St. George is also venerated by Christians of other denominations, and even by Muslims. This is why, we, the members of the Parish dedicated to this Saint, are very fortunate to have such a great Patron among those who enjoy blessedness in heaven. Fr. Igor called the faithful to imitate our Patron Saint in their lives. Although today’s life of a Christian may not often demand a martyrdom, it surely requires to be firm and courageous in our faith and to confess it before the unbelieving.

Our service was attended by Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis), the former Rector of our church (2005-2007) who sang in the choir and read the Epistle lesson.

Celebration was continued at the nearby Pier 25A restaurant where the Rector, our parishioners and guests enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

Flooding in the Church building

On May 1 our church building became flooded due to a heavy rain and possible structural problems. We are grateful to our parishioners Natalia Soho, Andrew Malyshew and Olga Roussanow for their dedicated work in pumping the water out and drying the building. We will monitor the situation and appreciate any help.
Due to these circumstances our services on Sunday, May 4 and Tuesday, May 6 will probably be cancelled. Please, call the Rector at (631) 924-5566 to confirm whether services will be performed.