34th Sunday after Pentecost


On January 31, on the 34th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s reading from the holy Gospel of Luke repeats the story we had on the 12th Sunday in the Gospel of Matthew. It is about a conversation between our Lord Jesus Christ and a ruler. It deals with a very important question, about everlasting life. The young ruler presented such a question to our Lord Jesus Christ saying: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Lk. 18, 18; Mt. 19, 16). The young man did not doubt that eternal life exists, but he wanted to know how to enter into it”.
“That conversation between our Lord Jesus Christ and that man whom the Gospels call either the rich young man or a ruler or a lawyer, reveals that some people are willing to follow the Lord’s advice to renounce their material wealth and some don’t. Yesterday the Church commemorated Venerable Father Anthony the Great. Being a young man, Anthony heard that Gospel reading where Jesus calls the ruler to distribute his wealth and follow the Lord, and decided to do that. He withdrew from the world to the wilderness and became one of the first monks. We can also notice that we don’t know the name of that young man who spoke with Jesus. The Gospel is silent about that. This is because that man went away sorrowful and failed to become the Disciple of Christ. If he did follow the Lord, we would know his name. In the same way we know the names of many Saints, like St. Anthony the Great”.
“Returning to our reflections about the Gospel reading, we may say that answering the ruler’s question, our Lord reminded him of the Commandments. He said that in order to enter into eternal life, one must keep them. He enumerated certain Commandments pertaining to the love of the neighbor. Jesus did it to stress that loving or pleasing God is impossible without loving our neighbors. Holy Apostle John the Theologian said: “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”(1 Jn. 4, 20)”.
“We should also be confronted with that very important question: “What shall we do to have eternal life?” It is known that our life here on earth will end. We will have to leave this world. But our holy faith tells us that after our earthly existence we will enter into everlasting life. Faith also tells us that everlasting life will become eternal blessing and happiness for one and eternal punishment and torment for the others. Therefore, when the young man was asking about “having eternal life”, he wished to know how to acquire everlasting happiness. We should also reflect upon that question”.
“This earthly life is a brief moment in comparison with the eternity that is waiting for us. Therefore, this life has to become our preparation for the life everlasting. Again, Jesus reminds us of the Commandments of God given to the people through Moses. Keeping them we may rightly prepare for the eternity. Let us just concentrate today on one of those Commandments our Lord recalls today: “You shall not murder””.
“People often tend to understand this Commandment in a very narrow sense. “Of course, – they would say, – murdering is a very terrible thing and I would never do it!” But it covers many more things. It also condemns anger, because many people kill or assault others out of anger or quarrel. Warning of that St. Paul teaches: “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4, 26). Recently I heard that in Brooklyn a husband killed his wife after an argument. The argument started because the husband wanted to sleep on the certain side of the bed and the wife did not let him because she wanted herself to sleep on that side”.
“Another sin is hatred. It can also cause murder. St. John the Theologian says: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn. 3, 15)”.
“This Commandment also condemns different kinds of self-destruction. People may destroy themselves by drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or by other passions. They may mutilate themselves by tattoos or piercing. All these things are against this Commandment. And finally, working too much, not for living, but for the sake of earning, because of greed, is against our health, thus would be covered by this Commandment. See how broad this Commandment is”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Keeping the Commandments leads to eternal life. Violating them leads to eternal punishment. The young man said to Jesus that he kept all of them. But, in fact, he was not perfect in doing so. He was attached to his wealth and he left Jesus in sorrow when he heard that he should sell everything and give it to the poor. His riches became his passion that precluded him from acquiring eternal life. But Jesus assured us that with God everything is possible, so a rich man may enter into eternal life if he trusts God and serves Him. Therefore, let us keep the Commandments, let us rightly understand what these Commandments are, and do so with God’s help, acquiring His grace, so we would enter the eternal life”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir beautifully performed Psalm 33 and a hymn “O my Gracious Queen” in honor of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector greeted Maria Malyshev on her name day celebrated on that Sunday, as well as Tatiana Migal who celebrated her name day last week. Fr. Igor expressed his heartfelt wishes to them, proclaimed the traditional Polychronion and distributed the Theotokian prosphora to those parishioners.

After the Liturgy we enjoyed a delicious luncheon held in honor of our parishioners’ name days. Toasts to Maria and Tatiana were raised at the trapeza table.


Sunday after the Theophany


On January 24, on the Sunday after the Theophany, our parish community had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate Sunday after the Theophany and we hear in the Gospel lesson that our Lord Jesus Christ began His preaching with the same words that were used by St. John the Baptist: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mt. 4, 17)”.
“As we said a week ago, repentance is the first condition to begin spiritual life, to convert to God. This is why it was preached by St. John and that is why it became the first theme of the preaching of our Lord Himself. There is no salvation without repentance. And for every Christian person the path to salvation starts with true repentance”.
“Both St. John and the Lord stressed that repentance is needed because “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. What those words “at hand” mean? They mean that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself came to the world; He appeared to the universe at the Jordan River being baptized. And the Three divine Persons of the Trinity appeared there. This is the sign that God is in this world of ours; He is here to help, to forgive our sins, to cleanse us from our impurity, to lead us to His Heavenly Kingdom. He is ready to do anything for us. The only thing we need to do is to repent”.
“But here we begin to see difficulties. It is hard for us to repent, to acknowledge our sins, to confess our errors. It is hard to overstep our pride, selfishness and vain-glory. Our enemy will always try to prevent us from repentance. He may offer us a false mirror where we could not see ourselves truly. In such a false mirror we would not see our sins and shortcomings, we may then think that we have nothing to repent. I met such people many times. Some of them are not really churched, and it is understandable that they don’t know how to approach the Sacrament of Penance. But some of them, unfortunately, are going to the church. Thus when they come to confession, they say, “I have nothing to confess; I don’t recall any sins”. In such a case a priest hearing confession may say, “Well, you are a Saint! You need no confession!” But that would be a joke. But if we talk seriously, a priest would then instruct such a person. He may ask him questions whether he committed certain sins or not. In many parishes priests hand out the lists of sins for the faithful to prepare for confession, especially during Lent. It is helpful. Sometimes people are surprised reading those lists. They say, “Oh, I did not know that this is a sin”. Thus people need to be taught how to repent, how to approach confession. If they are, they become more aware of their possible sins”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we need to throw away that false mirror of our pride and begin to see ourselves truly and without distortion. Also, we have to avoid making false excuses for our sinfulness and lack of repentance. Some people say that they were not raised in a religious environment, so they don’t know how to confess and they commit sins. Some people say that the others who surround them are not just and holy, so it is difficult for them to be righteous. Some even say that the whole society is no longer religious. The government is bad, the politicians are bad, so we should not be expected to be perfect. There may many more excuses. All of them are not valid. Each of us is capable of converting, of repenting, of changing”.
“The devil may also whisper to us that we may surely repent, but later. And many of us are ready to agree: “Yes, I need to repent, I need to go to confession, but not now. I may take my time to enjoy something, to sin a little longer”.  But how do we know how much time is left? Every day, even every hour and minute of our life may become the last one! And if we are not prepared, if we did not repent, we may lose eternal salvation! Here the words that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” can also be applied. Since our earthly life is uncertain and every moment may be the last one, the Kingdom of God is always at hand, is always near”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us not listen to those thoughts, to those advises of the evil one. Let us not postpone our repentance, our confession of sins. Let us be prepared for the Kingdom of Heaven to become a reality of our existence”.
“Let us not resemble those described in today’s Gospel lesson as “the people who sat in darkness… those who sat in the region and shadow of death” (Mt. 4, 16).  Many people in the world are like that – sitting in the spiritual darkness of sin, false religions, idolatry and iniquities. However, we are called to enjoy Christ, our true Light who illumines and enlightens us. Let us then ask Him to shed His divine light upon our souls, so we could see our sins, our true self and then be able to abandon them, to improve, to repent and to acquire eternal salvation, to enter that glorious Kingdom of Heaven!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed the magnification of the Theophany as well as the odes from the festal canon during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector said a few words regarding the Saint honored on this day, Venerable Theodosius the Great, founder of the cenobite monastic life.

Theophany, or Baptism of the Lord


On January 19th the Orthodox Church celebrates great feast of the Theophany, or Baptism of the Lord. Our parish had a beautiful celebration of that holy day headed by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. He served the Divine Liturgy at St. George Church. After the Gospel lesson the Rector preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! This holy day is not so simple in its meaning, it has more aspects than Nativity. On the Nativity we have one great idea expressed by the Angel announcing that holy event to the shepherds: “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior…” (Lk. 2, 11). In today’s feast we may find more ideas, aspects and meanings. Although we celebrate a certain event, namely the Baptism of the Lord performed by St. John, that event is not so simple. When we hear today’s reading from the Gospel we may see that. We read about Jesus coming to St. John at the Jordan River; we heard that John did not understand why Jesus wishes to be baptized but Jesus convinced Him and enters the waters; then the Holy Spirit appears in a form of a dove and the voice of God the Father is heard.  Thus its aspects are several”.
“Today we will talk about one of those aspects. We will discuss how our Lord Jesus Christ in His Theophany descended upon the nature and upon this world. He had no need to be baptized for St. John baptized people who repent. Jesus had no reason to repent, He was without sin. But He comes to the Jordan River and requests Baptism. Recently, celebrating His Circumcision we were also wandering why the Infant Jesus needed to be circumcised. Now we may ask why He wishes to receive Baptism. St. John was also wandering about it. But the Lord said to him: “Permit it to be now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3, 15). Baptism was necessary for Jesus to “fulfill all the righteousness”, to make the purification of humanity His own, to wash away the sin of men, to grant regeneration. To give us a new life Jesus descended upon this world, entered the waters of Jordan. St. Gregory of Nyssa says, “Jesus enters the filthy waters of the world and when He comes out, brings up the entire world with Him””.
“This coming of the Lord into our world is very beautifully described in the troparion we sing at Vespers on the Theophany Eve: “Thou Who didst create the world art made manifest in the world, to give light to those who sit in darkness…” Our Creator appeared in the world He created, manifested Himself as a part of that world to make the world better. He Who was in heaven came to the earth. He Who is the Most High descended into the lowest spheres. He Who is All-Holy came to the filthy and sinful environment. It happened “to fulfill all the righteousness””.
“In a similar way when we bless the water these days, that holy water is being sprinkled all over. It falls on the altar, on the icons in the temple, but it also falls on the floor. Furthermore, we bring it outside the temple, we bless houses and different objects. When a priest comes to your house he becomes a resemblance of Christ coming into the world. Although a priest is a simple man he represents Jesus. He brings a sacred thing to your abode. Our homes are no temples. But the holy water falls there, even on our floors. The grace of God descends upon us as Jesus descended into the filthy waters of this world. Creation had been blessed. In the same way we and our homes receive His blessing”.
“But there is one thing we should realize and remember. If creation cannot fully respond at the blessing of the Lord, if waters, earth, animals and plants are not able to make a choice about the grace they receive, we can and we are able to choose. The creation glorifies God in its way. Today, during the Blessing of water we will pray to the Lord: “The sun hymns Thee, the moon glorifies Thee, the stars assist Thee, the light obeys Thee, the deeps shudder before Thee, the springs serve Thee”. But our response to the Christ appearance could be much stronger. For we are created in His image and likeness and we have a free will. The dirt on which the holy water today falls accidently will remain the dirt. But a sinful man may change after receiving the grace of God, no matter how filthy and dark might be his soul. He may repent, turn away from that filth and darkness”.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, let us be grateful for this great appearance of the Most High to the universe and let us act upon that reception of His grace saving to all men”.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns of the feast during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the Prayer behind the Ambo the Rector performed the Great Blessing of water. This time a new and larger vessel for the holy water donated and beautified by Olga Vnukova was used for the celebration.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server came before the icon stand and performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion and kontakion of the Theophany. Then the Rector greeted the faithful on the great holy day and preached a very brief sermon in Russian.

Sunday before the Theophany


On January 17, on the Sunday before the Theophany, our parish gathered for a nice celebration in our temple. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today is Sunday before the Theophany and we are expecting the great feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Today we read the beginning of the Holy Gospel according to Mark”.
“Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark was not among the 12 Disciples of Christ but he was one of the 70 Apostles and he was a disciple of St. Peter. By the way, today we commemorate those 70 Apostles altogether; the Church honors those holy men who were in the broader number of the Disciples of Christ but not among His 12 closest Apostles”.
“The Gospel of Mark is the shortest one, and it begins with a story about the preaching of St. John the Baptist. St. John called the people to repent, and those who wished to receive the forgiveness of their sins, were coming to him to the wilderness and were baptized in the Jordan River confessing their sins (Mk. 1, 5). St. John was the Forerunner of Christ, meaning that he was the one who preached before the coming of Christ; he was preparing the people for his coming. Therefore, today’s Gospel recalls the words of the prophecy: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You” (Mal. 3, 1). St. John the Baptist was that messenger of God. He lived in the wilderness where the people were coming to him to hear the preaching about the Messiah. Thus another prophecy recalled in today’s Gospel so much fitted to him: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight’” (Mk. 1, 3; Is. 40, 3). The Holy Forerunner clearly told those who came to him that he was not the Savior but that there comes after him the One who is mightier than him (Mk. 1, 7). Later that who was Mightier came to the Jordan to be baptized”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we are now on the eve of the feat of the Lord’s Baptism and we commemorate the preaching of St. John the Baptist which was before the appearance of the Son of God to the world. For in the previous winter holy day of the Nativity we spiritually contemplated Christ as a young Child born by the Holy Virgin in the Bethlehem cave. And now we prepare ourselves to see Christ already as a mature Man coming to the Jordan to be baptized. Back then the Child had to grow for a long time and to be hidden from the world. And now a feast is coming up where we are going to celebrate His appearance, an appearance of God, the Theophany. Without the Nativity there would be no Theophany. But with the Nativity the coming of Christ could not end; it only began. Christ had a lot of events of His life ahead of Him. And one of them ion the row was His Baptism”.
“What was so important about the preaching of St. John the Baptist? It was the call for repentance. Every true spiritual life begins with repentance. Repentance is the first condition of conversion to God. Only through awareness of our sins and errors, only by asking God to forgive them, a person can start to walk on a path pleasing to God. This is why the repentance was the main call of St. John the Baptist. And the baptism he performed in the Jordan was a symbol of purification from sins. Therefore, as we are able to use the water to wash away physical dirt from the body, in the same but symbolic way the people in the Jordan washed away their spiritual defilement, their sins which they confessed”.
“In this way faithful people were preparing to encounter the Savior about Whom St. John was preaching. St. John called to “prepare the way of the Lord”, to “make His paths straight” (Mk. 1, 3). We may not totally understand those expressions. In the ancient times when some king desired to visit his lands he was sending ahead his servants to prepare the places he wished to visit. Back then it was important to improve the roads, to straighten the ways where the king was expected to travel. Therefore the Prophet Isaiah whose words Apostle Mark recalls said, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (Is. 40, 4-5). Before the coming of the Messiah, before the revelation of the glory of the Lord a proper foundation has to be prepared. All the spiritual and moral defects have to be eliminated or at least, made smooth. A valley has to be exalted, meaning that a spiritual weakness should be given the new power of the spirit. The mountains and hills of the human pride have to be brought low by humility and awareness of sins. And the crooked places of spiritual searches and of the wrong moral choice have to smoothen by repentance and desire to live in righteousness. Thus the repentance was the main way to straighten the paths of the Lord, to smoothen the defects of the human souls”.
“This was the mission of St. John the Baptist, and he accomplished it. Therefore, today we hear the words of the Holy Apostle Paul spoken about himself, but they could also pertain to the Holy Forerunner: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me… and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4, 7-8). For his righteous life and special ministry to God St. John the Forerunner was called by the Lord “the greatest among men”. The Lord said about him: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Mt. 11, 11)”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we also have to fight a good fight in faith, to run the race of this life in righteousness and to prepare for the encounter with Christ. For we call ourselves those “who have loved His appearing”, as Holy Apostle says. Let us then worthily prepare for the celebration of that appearing, for the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. Let us make the paths of Christ straight, let us prepare them for the One Who desires to visit our souls in these days of the feast. Let us follow the call of the Forerunner, a call for repentance in order to receive the crown of righteousness and salvation!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made announcements regarding coming holy day of the Theophany and addressed the main ideas of his English homily speaking in Russian.

Parish Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow greeted Archpriest Igor Tarasov on the occasion of his past 55th birthday and expressed good wishes to our pastor on behalf of all the parishioners. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed to Fr. Igor. Then the Rector thanked her and parishioners for their greetings.

After the service a delicious luncheon was served in honor of Fr. Igor’s birthday. The Rector and parishioners had a chance to enjoy tasty meals and a nice company.

Sunday after the Nativity


On January 10, on the Sunday after the Nativity, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! This Sunday after the Nativity is dedicated to St. Joseph, the Sponsor of the Holy Family, and to King David and holy Apostle James the Brother of the Lord. We know from the Gospel of today that when the joy of the Birth of Christ was over, when the wise men departed, the angels returned to heaven and shepherds left the cave, righteous Joseph had to begin his work of protecting the Holy Family. For him, as well as for the Blessed Mother of God, the miracle of Christmas ended and a hard and dangerous life began”.
“For many of us it is a similar feeling when Christmas is over. The holy days ended, and we have to think about our daily life. Some people rush to take off the decorations, especially after the New Year’s Day. Although our tradition leads us to the other two winter holy days (St. Basil’s and Theophany), we feel like something big is already finished. The radiant days of celebration have passed and the gray and boring time of our daily cares approaches again. Now it is very important not to lose the spirit of Christmas. Again, our beautiful and holy tradition helps us with that. It prolongs our celebration with two more holy days. It tells us to keep the decorations and the tree until after the Theophany or, as done in some local traditions, until February. But more important is to keep Christmas within our hearts, to be aware of the fact that “the Child was born to us, the Son is given to us” (Is. 9, 6) and God is with us. We have to remember that “for our sake the Young Child is born, God before ages”. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt within us (Jn. 1, 14). If God is with us, no one will overcome us”.
“God will give us the power to conquer all evil in our daily life. Our everyday existence seems to be a constant fight for survival. But it was the same for the little Infant Jesus. He had to flee to Egypt, flee for His life. He had to stay there for some time, to be a refugee, a foreigner. Even when He could come back to His homeland, He had to avoid coming to Judea where the son of Herod was ruling, but went to Nazareth in Galilee. We say He did, the Child Jesus, but we know that all this was done by His Sponsor and protector, holy and righteous Joseph who was the head of that household. St. Joseph did a great job protecting Christ; he literally saved the Savior of the world. Despite all the difficulties and dangers of the evil world around him, Joseph, being helped by the grace of the Lord and assisted by the angels, could accomplish his task of preserving Jesus for the human kind”.
“Following actual Christmas celebration we are having a similar task. We have to preserve faith in Jesus, the real spirit of His Birth for ourselves and for the other people, even for the generations to come. St. Paul says in today’s Epistle: “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace to reveal His Son to me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1, 15-16). God’s grace calls us to preach Jesus among other people by our life and actions. This will make us the protectors of faith, similar to St. Joseph. Let us imitate holy Joseph in his humble readiness to obey the will of God, in his bravery before the misfortunes of life and in his caring and loving protection of the precious gift he was entrusted – the Holy Infant Jesus and the Blessed Mother of God. Let us practice this kind of attitude in our daily life, so this life will become a joyful continuation of the miracle of Christmas”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns of the Nativity during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the main thoughts of his English homily.

Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas


On January 7 the Russian Orthodox Church observes feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as Christmas. Our St. George Church had a nice celebration of that holy day. Our parishioners as well as some visitors came to the temple to participate in the services, however due to the pandemic we did not have so many people attending.

On January 6, on Christmas Eve, our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the All-Night Vigil. That service consists of the Great Compline, Matins and the First Hour. On Christmas day, January 7, our Rector served the Divine Liturgy. Since Our Sacristan and altar server, Andrew Malyshev, was sick and could not come for the services, Emilian Suric was blessed by the Rector to substitute and to serve in the altar.

Following the Gospel lesson the Rector proclaimed the Christmas Sermon of Venerable Isaac the Syrian.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

During the preparation for Holy Communion at the Liturgy the choir beautifully performed different liturgical hymns of the Nativity.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Nativity before the festal icon in the middle of the church. Then the Rector greeted the faithful on the occasion of the great holy day of the birth of the Son of God. He preached a sermon in Russian pointing out that we usually look for some comfort in this life. There is no other true comfort than our Lord and God. The recent tumultuous times showed that everything in this world is uncertain, thus the people were looking for some consolation and moral support. However, they are mistaken if they wish to find those in other things than God. Recalling the Nativity of Christ we may also think that the event of the Birth of the Savior was far from being certain and comfortable. Jesus was born in a cave, not in a royal palace, not even in his home. Not so many people knew and cared about His Birth. Right after that His life was threatened. But this was the coming of the Lord into this world and it made a huge difference in our lives because this was the coming of the Savior. God entered into our life; God in Whom only we have comfort. We, as His children, have to fulfill His will and serve Him. The wise men, the shepherds, St. Joseph and Mary – all served Him in their own way. On the other hand, king Herod was troubled by His Birth fearing that this small Child could deprive him of his kingdom. Herod who was a ruler over a small piece of land, over a quarter of the Holy Land, trembled because he was afraid to lose his little domain. Thus Herod became an enemy of Christ. Even Augustus, the Roman emperor, served the Lord’s Providence by ordering a census. Because of that order St. Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus had to be born. That place of birth was important to fulfill the prophecies. Thus even not knowing about Christ, Ceasar Augustus served Him while a small ruler Herod opposed Him. The Rector concluded his sermon by saying that seeing different reactions from the people, we should put our trust in God and serve Him in our own way.

After the Rector’s sermon the parish Warden, Olga Roussanow had a speech in which she congratulated Archpriest Igor Tarasov on the occasion of his 31st Anniversary of priestly ordination. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) to Fr. Igor was proclaimed.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where a tasty luncheon was prepared by our parishioners. Everybody enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

Sunday before the Nativity


On January 3, on the Sunday before the Nativity, our community had a nice celebration at St. George Church.  Since it was already a time of the Prefeast of the Nativity, the temple was adorned for the anticipated holy day. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Sunday before the Nativity in some way duplicates the previous Sunday, dedicated to the Holy Forefathers. The Holy Fathers whom we honor today are the blood relatives of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we sing again the troparia and kontakia of the Ancestors and commemorate the Old Testament Saints. Today’s Epistle lesson enumerates many heroes of the Old Testament telling us that all their achievements were due to their faith. Thus faith becomes a very important theme of today’s celebration of the anticipation of the Birth of Christ”.
“If we reflect upon the last passages of today’s Gospel reading, we may notice that faith was very crucial for St. Joseph when he had his doubts about the Virgin Mary being pregnant. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Joseph and Mary were betrothed, but before they came together, Mary was found with the child of the Holy Spirit. We may easily imagine what kind of thoughts crossed the mind of Joseph. The words from the Akathistos of the Annunciation calls his feelings “the inner storm of doubtful thoughts”.  He was thinking that Mary deceived him although She was raised in the Temple of Jerusalem. But the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and revealed that Mary conceived from the Holy Spirit, and that Her Son will be called Jesus, which means the Savior. Thus Joseph was instructed that Mary is a holy Virgin and She will bear the Son of God. Although the way of revealing this to Joseph was very adequate for the divine Revelation (it was told him in a dream), he needed a strong faith to believe in that. We learn from the Gospel that St. Joseph not only believed in the Most Holy Virgin Mary and Her mission, he also acted in accordance with that belief serving and protecting the Most Holy Mother of God and the Child Jesus. This was the same kind of belief the Old Testament patriarchs, prophets and other heroes of faith had”.
”Same faith has to be imitated by the generations of the New Testament followers of Christ. The Birth of Christ teaches us to believe in things which are very hard to accept using only our human mind. It tells us that our Lord was born from the Mother without human father. It tells us that He was the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. It tells us that His Mother was a Virgin. She was a Virgin before His Birth, She was a Virgin during His Birth, and She remained a Virgin after His Birth. Virginal conception and permanent virginity of Mary are the truths of Christian faith. Our mind has difficulties with comprehending that. But we always have difficulties with comprehending God. His being and nature are ineffable. Same with the events of the Nativity”.
“For the Son of God to become man He had to unite Himself bodily with our nature, to be born from a human mother. But that could not be any woman. Divine Providence elected a representative of the Jewish nation, an heir of David, an immaculate Virgin. She became a living Tabernacle in which the very God had His place. Therefore, that person could not be a common woman living according to the corrupted human nature. She had to be without sin, an immaculate ever-Virgin. Thus, the virginity of the Most Holy Mother of God can be explained, but it is still a truth which is difficult to understand. We need faith, a strong faith”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us cherish our faith and act upon it to make things impossible possible, to accept the miracle of the Birth of Christ and to be saved by Him”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed the singing of the Psalm 33 during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector expressed his gratitude to the parishioners who prepared the temple for Christmas holy days, including the Malyshev family who provided the new artificial Christmas tree, as well as Olga Vnukova and Olga Roussanow who cleaned the items in the temple and decorated the interior. Fr. Igor also greeted everybody on the civil New Year and stressed the importance of keeping the true faith and the right Christian values when we begin the new period of time in our lives and spiritually expect the Birth of the Lord.