Holy Pentecost 2017
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At the conclusion of every celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the priest (when more
than one priest concelebrates, it’s the junior priest) offers the prayer known as
“The Prayer before the Ambo,” the Ambo being the raised area in ancient churches
that corresponds, more or less, to what we now know as the solea, or, in our church,
the steps leading into the Altar. The prayer is offered in front of, “before” the
Ambo and sums up what we have just accomplished in the Divine Liturgy, our common
praise of God, and our intercession for the Church and the world.
“Blessing those that bless thee, O Lord, and sanctifying those that trust in thee,
save thy people and bless thine inheritance, preserve the fullness of thy Church,
sanctify those that love the beauty of thy house. Glorify them in return by thy divine
power, and forsake us not that hope in thee. Give peace to thy world, to thy churches,
to the priests, to all civil authorities, and to all thy people. For every good gift,
and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from thee, the Father of lights,
and unto thee do we send up glory, thanksgiving, and worship, to the Father, and
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”
Included within the text of this ancient prayer is a quote from the Letter of James:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the
Father of lights…” (James 1:17). Indeed, the insertion of this scripture verse acknowledges
that all the gifts we have in this life, everything that has been given to us “is
from above” and is given by God, “the Father of Lights” in “Whom we live and move
and have our being” (Acts 17:28). All we have and all we are is a gift from God.
At each Divine Liturgy and every time that we acknowledge all of God’s many and abundant
gifts to us, we should be most aware that the greatest and most perfect Gift that
God has bestowed upon us is the Gift of His Son, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus
Christ. This greatest and most perfect of Gifts is what we are preparing to celebrate
as we commemorate Christmas, the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord, God, and Savior.
And so, all of our preparations and activities during this pre-holiday season should
be a reflection of our awareness of the Gift we are celebrating and the gratitude
we have for the Gift of Salvation in Christ. Every carol we sing, every gift we
wrap, give, or receive, every guest we welcome, every meal we prepare, every cake
or cookie that is baked (or eaten!), every day we fast, and every prayer we utter
should be meant as an offering of thanksgiving to the Lord. If we remember this
during these preparatory weeks and days leading us to the Nativity, we can be sure
that whatever might otherwise distract or frustrate us during this hectic time of
the year is placed firmly within the larger context of our lives and our faith. In
briefer words: all our preparations should help us understand that what we are preparing
to celebrate is the Birth of the Savior and the presence in our lives of Christ Emmanuel,
“God with us.”
Keeping this focus can be difficult. So much distracts us. Sometimes it’s simply
physical tiredness that figuratively, and sometimes literally, blurs our vision.
But we can be attentive nonetheless, we can be vigilant. And even now we can (should?)
firmly resolve to have the weeks ahead of us, and all the activities that are part
of these weeks, be a means to a spiritually rewarding feast.
As we approach the light-filled days of the Lord’s Nativity, I ask your prayers and
assure you of mine. In addition to so many other blessings, one of the greatest
blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me is the blessing of serving you and our Saints
Peter and Paul Church community throughout these eleven-some years. You are all
part of the “blessings from above,” sent into my life by the Father of Lights. I
am grateful for all of you.
May the Lord, born of the Virgin and laid in a manger for us and for our salvation,
continue to bless you and all your loved ones. May the festal days which are approaching
be a source of much joy and many blessings and may the new year which is about to
enter provide many more blessings to you all.
With love in Christ Emmanuel,
Bishop Daniel, Rector
Father David Balmer, Attached, Retired
Deacon Andrew Maxwell
Stephanie A. Homyak, Church School Director & Newsletter Editor
Barbara Peterson, Myrrh Bearers
Andrew Evans, Council President
Pat Starkey, FOCA President
Barbara Harp, Choir Director
Mara Hecht, Teen & Young Adult League
Mike Wagner, Webmaster
Bishop Daniel’s Message for December
The Most Blessed TIKHON
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
The Most Reverend BENJAMIN
Archbishop of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West
Sunday of the Forefathers
The Sunday that falls between December 11-17 is known as the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers.
These are the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, who lived before the Law
and under the Law, especially the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said, “In thy seed
shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3, 22:18).
Commemorated on December 17
The Holy Prophet Daniel is the fourth of the major prophets.
In the years following 600 B.C. Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, the Temple
built by Solomon was destroyed, and many of the Israelite people were led away into
the Babylonian Captivity. Among the captives were also the illustrious youths Daniel,
Ananias, Azarias and Misael.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon ordered that they be instructed in the Chaldean language
and wisdom, and dressed them in finery. Handsome children of princely lineage were
often chosen to serve as pages in the palace. For three years, they would be fed
from food from the king’s table. After this they would be allowed to stand before
his throne. Daniel was renamed Baltasar, Ananias was called Shadrach, Misael was
called Mishach, and Azarias was known as Abednego. But they, cleaving to their faith,
disdained the extravagance of court, refusing to defile themselves by eating from
the king’s table and drinking his wine. Instead, they lived on vegetables and water.
The Lord granted them wisdom, and to Saint Daniel the gift of insight and the interpretation
of dreams. The holy Prophet Daniel preserved his faith in the one God and trusted
in His almighty help. He surpassed all the Chaldean astrologers and sorcerers in
his wisdom, and was made a confidant to King Nebuchadnezzar.
Once, Nebuchadnezzar had a strange dream which terrified him (Daniel 2:1-6). He summoned
magicians, sorcerers, and Chaldeans before him to interpret the dream. When they
asked him what he had dreamt, the king refused to tell them. He said, “If you do
not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from
limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins.” The Babylonian wise men protested
that no magician or sorcerer could be expected to do this. Only the gods could reveal
the dream and its meaning, they told him.
The king ordered all the wise men of Babylon to be executed. When they sought Daniel
and his companions to put them to death, Daniel asked that the king’s sentence not
be carried out. He said that he could tell the king what he dreamt, for it had been
revealed to him in a vision. Daniel was brought before the king and was able to reveal
not only the content of the dream, but also its prophetic significance. After this,
the king elevated Daniel to be ruler of the whole province of Babylon, and the chief
of all the wise men.
During these times King Nebuchadnezzar ordered a huge statue to be made in his likeness.
It was decreed that when people heard the sound of trumpets and other instruments,
they should fall down and worship the golden idol. Because they refused to do this,
the three holy youths Ananias, Azarias and Misael were cast into a fiery furnace.
The flames shot out over the furnace forty-nine cubits, felling the Chaldeans standing
about, but the holy youths walked in the midst of the flames, offering prayer and
psalmody to the Lord (Daniel 3:26-90).
The Angel of the Lord appeared in the furnace and cooled the flames, and the young
men remained unharmed. This “Angel of Great Counsel,” as he is called in iconography,
is identified with the Son of God (Daniel 3:25, Isaiah 9:6). In the first Canon for
the Nativity of the Lord (Ode 5), the Church sings: “Thou hast sent us Thine Angel
of Great Counsel.” The emperor, upon seeing this, commanded them to come out, and
was converted to the true God.
Under King Baltasar, Saint Daniel interpreted a mysterious inscription (“Mane, Thekel,
Phares”), which had appeared on the wall of the palace during a banquet (Daniel 5:1-31),
foretelling the downfall of the Babylonian kingdom. Under the Persian emperor Darius,
Saint Daniel was slandered by his enemies, and was thrown into a den with hungry
lions, but they did not touch him, and he was not harmed. The emperor Darius then
rejoiced over Daniel and ordered people throughout his realm to worship the God of
Daniel, “since He is the living and eternal God, and His Kingdom shall not be destroyed,
and His dominion is forever” (Daniel 6:26).
The holy Prophet Daniel grieved deeply for his people, who then were undergoing righteous
chastisement for a multitude of sins and offenses, for transgressing the laws of
God, resulting in the grievous Babylonian Captivity and the destruction of Jerusalem:
“My God, incline Thine ear and hearken; open Thine eyes and look upon our desolation
and that of Thy city, in which Thy Name is spoken; for we do not make our supplication
before Thee because of our own righteousness, but because of Thy great mercy” (Dan
9:18). Because of Daniel’s righteous life and his prayers for the people’s iniquity,
the destiny of the nation of Israel and the fate of all the world was revealed to
the holy prophet.
While interpreting the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, the holy, glorious Prophet Daniel
spoke of a great and final kingdom, the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (Dan 2:44).
The prophetic vision about the seventy weeks (Dan 9:24-27) speaks about the signs
of the First and the Second Comings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and is connected with
those events (Daniel 12:1-12).
Saint Daniel interceded for his people before King Cyrus, who esteemed him highly,
and who decreed freedom for the Israelite people. Daniel himself and his fellows
Ananias, Azarias and Misael, all survived into old age, but died in captivity. According
to the testimony of Saint Cyril of Alexandria (June 9), Saints Ananias, Azarias and
Misael were beheaded on orders of the Persian emperor Chambyses.
Saint Daniel and the three holy youths are also commemorated on the Sunday of the
Holy Forefathers, and on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (Sunday before the Nativity).
Friday, December 22:
Royal Hours, 8:30 a.m.
Church decorating, 10:00 a.m.
Saturday, December 23:
Vespers, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 24:
Divine Liturgy, 9:00 a.m.
Great Compline, 5:00 p.m.,
followed by Holy Supper
Monday, December 25:
Divine Liturgy of Christmas, 9:00 a.m.
CONFESSIONS- Everyone seems to be busy at this time of the year: busy traveling,
busy working, busy getting ready for Christmas, busy making or purchasing gifts.
As the Feast of the Lord’s Nativity draws near, do not forget to also prepare yourself
spiritually before receiving the Holy Gifts on Christmas morning. An essential part
of our spiritual preparation is the confession of our sins and receiving the Lord’s
forgiveness. Confessions are heard before the Divine Services or by arrangements
with Bishop DANIEL or Father David.
CHURCH DECORATING- Please mark your calendars and plan on joining in decorating our
church on Friday, December 22, at 10:00 a.m. This year’s decorating will take place
after we pray the service of Royal Hours, a special service of psalms, hymns, and
scripture readings. Plan on being a part of the joy as we come together to adorn
the church for our celebration of the Lord’s Birth. The more, the merrier!
NEW YEAR’S DAY: We begin the New Year by invoking God’s blessing upon our families,
our parish, the Church, and the world. Divine Liturgy (Feast of the Circumcision
of Christ and Commemoration of Saint Basil the Great), 9:00 a.m.
TIME FOR THANKS: As we enter the season of the Lord’s Nativity, we pause and give
thanks for the many blessings we have received throughout the year, especially the
blessings received because of the generosity in time, talents, and treasures of our
parish community. There are too many people to name individually. The Lord knows
you all… But please be assured of the gratitude of Archbishop BENJAMIN, Bishop DANIEL,
Father David, Father Mihai, Deacon Andrew and all the clergy and faithful of our
parish community. May the Lord Himself be your recompense!
Behold, the time of our salvation is at hand.
Prepare yourself, O cavern,
For the Virgin
approaches to give birth to her Son.
Be glad and rejoice, O Bethlehem, land of Judah,
from you our Lord shines forth as the dawn.
Give ear, you mountains and hills
lands surrounding Judea.
For Christ is coming to save the people
Whom He has created
and whom He loves
What shall we offer Thee, O Christ,
Who for our sakes hast appeared on the earth as
Every creature which Thou hast made offers Thee thanks.
The angels offer Thee
The heavens, their star;
The wise men, their gifts;
The shepherds, their wonder;
earth, its cave;
The wilderness; the manger;
And we offer Thee a virgin mother.
God, have mercy on us!
Matthew 1:18-25 (Matins Gospel)
Monday, December 25th , 2017
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed
to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public
example, was minded to put her away secretly.
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared
to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you
Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will
save His people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord
through the prophet, saying:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call
His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded
him and took to him his wife,
and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called
His name JESUS.
Galatians 4:4-7 (Epistle, Nativity)
Monday, December 25th , 2017
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a
woman, born under the law,
to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your
hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of
God through Christ.
Matthew 2:1-12 (Gospel, Nativity)
Monday, December 25th , 2017
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king,
behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His
star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together,
he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers
of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what
time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young
Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had
seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His
mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures,
they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod,
they departed for their own country another way.