Message from Fr. John
During this ongoing crisis
Beloved in the Lord,
In rereading my letters sent to the parish email list in March and April, when the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning in this country, I never imagined that we would be continuing to battle this crisis many months later. In this message, I have included excerpts and resources from these letters.
It may seem hard to do at this moment, as we now enter the 7th month of this pandemic, but as we have seen in scripture, God does not forget His people, His most prized creation. Of all of the things that God created, mankind was the only one made in His “image and likeness.”
Next month, on November 15th, we begin the period of Advent, the “the winter Pascha.” During this time, the Church asks us to prepare ourselves for the birth of Christ. Not only that, it is a time to see God’s love for us. In the prayers before the consecration of the Gifts, when mere bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, the Church teaches us that God has “so loved thy world as to give thine only begotten Son, that all who believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life who when had come and fulfilled all the dispensation for us, in the night he was betrayed or rather gave himself up for the life of the world, took bread in his holy hands.”
Later in the liturgy, we hear the priest, as the gifts are lifted up, say “thine own of thine own…..” In an email sent in March 2020, I wrote “truly, the petition ‘thine own of thine own, we offer unto thee in behalf of all and for all’ was never so true than this past Sunday. We are Christ's, and He offers Himself to the world and to us as a source of healing and unity calling us all to salvation.”
During Advent there is also a famous hymn sung during the Great Compline Service that says, “God is with us, understand all ye nations and submit yourself, for God is with us!” If you trust in Him, He will be your refuge, for God is with us. Yes, indeed, God is with us.
As I also wrote in April 2020: “We WILL get through this current public health crisis as a country, Commonwealth, city, and church community. The question now being debated is what life will be after this crisis passes. In discussing this with a dear priest friend, he and I differed in our thoughts. He thought that people will have gotten so used to being away from their parishes that it will be very hard to get them back. I, on the other hand, thought that this absence will show people how much God and His Church means to them and will come back to their faith communities with greater fervor, faith, and love. Let’s pray that I am right.”
To help you refocus yourself during this most holy time of the year, I offer two spiritual aids for you to read, pray, and think about. The first is a prayer in time of epidemic; personally, I have been offering this prayer to God on your behalf on a regular basis. Wouldn’t be nice if you could join me? The second is an essay written by a well-known and respected monk from the UK.
Church School & Teen SOYO Updates
- Grades 7 to 10 students of our church school met socially distanced in-person in two groups outside on the plaza of the church on September 27, 2020 to discuss “Where is God during the pandemic?” Monthly theme based discussions will continue. Watch for the dates.
- Grades PK and K and Grades 1 to 6 have been emailed lessons and activities based on a monthly theme. The theme of “Where is God during the pandemic?” has been explained at a level that students in these grades can understand such as looking at “everyday blessings” and understanding that “God is love in all that we see and do.” Video Lessons are posted on St. John’s YouTube Channel. New lessons will be added monthly.
- Teen Soyo continues to do Zoom or socially distanced activities such as October’s “Car Wash” which raised money for those affected by the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.
- For more information, contact Nancy Z. Close, church school superintendent and/or Carol Z. Hazerjian, Teen Soyo Advisor
Opportunities for Socially Distanced
- 9 a.m. Sunday Matins - sign up required if attending liturgy as well
- 10 a.m. Sunday Divine Liturgy - sign up required
- Monthly Saturday Vespers 5 p.m.
Opportunities for Communal Prayer
Zoom or In-Person
- 7 p.m. Tuesday - Zoom Evening Prayers with Caitlin Rose Bradley
(Meeting ID: 718 4045 1386 Password: PRAY2020)
- 8 a.m. Wednesday - Join Fr. John’s personal morning prayer time at St. John’s. If you cannot come in person, here are some online resources for you to utilize at home during your morning prayer routine: “Orthodox Prayers - O Lord in this hour receive our supplication.” or “Prayers for Orthodox Christians.
Light A Candle on our St. John's Website - When you can't be at the parish to light a candle and say a private prayer, go to this link on our website for a quiet moment to focus on God and light a virtual candle.
Opportunities for In-Person Adult Education
- 11:45 am-12:45 pm - Sunday Adult Education- socially distanced - led by Fr. John
- Dates: October 18 & 25; November 1 & 22; December 13 & 27. More dates will be announced in the weekly bulletin.
- Initial discussions will be based on Fr. Thomas Hopko’s book on Worship. This compact, easy to read book discusses the liturgy, feast days, etc. of the Church.