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Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church
Phoenix, Arizona
Bishop Daniel’s Message for February

2019 ANNUAL PARISH MEETING

January 27, 2019

GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST!

We have just heard the Lord Jesus speak the Parable of the Talents in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew.  The story of three men who were entrusted by their Lord and Master with a varying amount of talents: five, two and one.  (Today one talent of gold would be worth over a million American dollars).  But the point of the parable really wasn’t about the number of talents each was given but, rather, what each one did with the talents they were given.  The one given five did well; de doubled what he had been given.  The one who was given two did well; he also doubled the amount he had been given.  But the one who was given the one talent failed the test—because he didn’t use that which he was given.

We will gather together today, after the Divine Liturgy, for our annual parish meeting… a time to reflect upon our life together as an Orthodox Christian community, a parish community, an integral part of Christ’s Holy Orthodox Church.  Because the parish by-laws require this and see this as primarily a business meeting, part of our reflection includes the question of how we materially support the work of the Church in our parish and beyond our parish—what we do with what we’ve been given.  But we also always need to see everything that we do- “business” matters, service to our neighbor, maintenance and care of our temple and parish hall and grounds, outreach, AND worship as part of our life together.  In this sense, everything we do together as a community and all our efforts, gifts, and talents are “spiritual,” “religious,” and in service to Christ.

The annual parish meeting relates well with the parable we’ve heard in today’s Gospel.  Because our annual meeting is really an accounting of what we’ve done with the talents the Lord has given us- as a parish and as individuals- and what we’ve done to further grow and strengthen and “enrich” the Kingdom of God and our work of living and proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s life-giving Gospel.

We are aware that Saint Paul speaks of the Church as a Body, and each one of us as members of the Body (1 Corinthians 12).  Each member of the body has a unique gift and plays its own unique role in the life of the Body: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

One indication of the health of a community is the width and breadth of the talents and labors offered up unto God for the building up of His Church and we are grateful to acknowledge -with the humility of the Publican- that in our small parish community we are blessed with an abundance of talent and with many people who willingly offer their time in various tasks and labors: the parish council oversees the administrative/financial operations of the parish, ongoing maintenance and capital improvements; the church school teachers and assistants commit themselves to the edification and building up of our children and their education in the faith; the Myrrhbearers Altar Society (MBAS) and all those who “love the beauty” of the House of the Lord maintain and beautify the temple, those who take care of the robes and vestments and altar covers; the choir lifts their voices and our hearts up to the Lord, offering praise to the Triune God; our Teen and Young Adult League (T/YAL) participate in activities that strengthen their faith and their fellowship and thus build up the overall community; those who contribute to our parish newsletter, weekly handout, and our parish website and Facebook page;  the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (FOCA) works together to assist in various charitable outreaches; there are those who arrange flowers, bake our altar bread, care for and clean the temple, make coffee, make possible our Holy Week, Holy Supper, the annual Pascha potluck and the annual Saint Nicholas Neighborhood outreach and, this year providing school supplies to neighborhood children, our outreach and volunteer committee coordinates wonderful activities through the year; the clergy offers the parish the service of their prayers and their pastoral care (Fr David, Fr Mihai, newly-ordained Deacon John); the “Altar Team” serves at the Holy Altar led by Subdeacon Michael and Subdeacon Rodion, assisting and bringing greater solemnity to our worship…

Just in this short, incomplete list, we see that we have a width and breadth of talents and abilities with which God has blessed us.  And for this, we’re thankful.  We thank God for the continued growth (and we offer our embrace to all our new members), life, vitality of our parish community.  And we see many new faces with us all the time. Together, in Christ, we always strive to pray, fast, confess our sins, live in repentance, serve, celebrate our life in Christ, and commit “ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God.”

How does this happen?  Through your generosity.  Through the time and talents you offer to the Lord.  Through your financial resources and material gifts.  Through your prayers.  By your lives of faith and lives of service.

As you are aware, my service as a bishop of the Church also requires time and attention outside of the parish.  But be assured that Saints Peter and Paul Church- all of you- are the main focus of my life and my work and my prayer.  As St Paul says, “I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:16).

As we celebrate this Divine Liturgy this morning, we give thanks to Almighty God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Triune God. And as we continue our prayerful service to God in this year’s annual meeting, let us be thankful for all the Lord has done for us.  Let us once again give thanks to God for all His many blessings.  Let us approach the Lord in gratitude and with humility, asking His continued mercy upon us, upon our parish community, and upon all our dear and loved ones.  And let us be eager for the year to come!

I will close with words we heard in today’s Epistle from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (Colossians 3:12-16), words that could almost be for us a “Code of Conduct” for the Church, for us, for our community:

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST!

+Bishop Daniel

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JANUARY ANNOUNCEMENTS

HOUSE BLESSINGS- To arrange for having your home blessed, please contact Bishop Daniel, Father David, or Father Mihai.

CONGRATULATIONS AND MANY YEARS!  To Deacon John Weiss as he celebrates the first anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Diaconate.  May the Lord bless him and grant him, Matushka Juliana, and their family many blessings as they serve Christ’s Holy Church!

ANNUAL PARISH MEETING:  The annual parish meeting will be held on Sunday, January 27, following the Divine Liturgy.

THANK YOU to all of you for your love, support, cards, and gifts during the Holiday Season.  Your kind words and sentiments and your many expressions of support are deeply appreciated.  God bless you for your thoughtful kindness!  +Bishop Daniel

THANK YOU to everyone who made our 2018 celebration of the Lord’s Nativity another beautiful, inspiring, and spiritually-rewarding celebration of the Lord’s presence among us.  The Divine Services, Holy Supper, music, flowers, decorations, food, etc., etc., were all wonderfully arranged and yet another sign of our parish community’s love of God and of neighbor.  Blessings to everyone!

DIVINE LITURGY – The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 24, the Feast of Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg.  This is also the anniversary of the Episcopal Consecration of His Grace Bishop DANIEL.

 

For February

Friday, February 1, Vespers, 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 2, Meeting of the Lord, Divine Liturgy, 9:00 a.m.

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Upcoming Calendar
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  • 17

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  • 24

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  • 2

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  • 3

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  • 9

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  • 10

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  • 16

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    5:00 Great Vespers
    Fast: wine & oil
  • 17

    Mar

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
    Fast: wine & oil
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Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Church
1614 E Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85006