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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message January 29, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Forty days after Christ was born He was presented to God in the Jerusalem Temple according to the Mosaic Law. At this time as well His mother Mary underwent the ritual purification and offered the sacrifices as prescribed in the Law. Thus, forty days after Christmas, on February 2nd, the Church celebrates the feast of the presentation called the Meeting (or Presentation or Reception) of the Lord.

The meeting of Christ by the elder Simeon and the prophetess Anna (Lk 2.22–36) is the main event of the feast of Christ’s presentation in the Temple. It was “revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Lk 2.26) and, inspired by the same Spirit, he came to the Temple where he met the new-born Messiah, took Him in his arms and said the words which are now chanted each evening at the end of the Orthodox Vespers service:

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Thy people Israel.

Luke 2:29-32

At this time as well Simeon predicted that Jesus would be the “sign which is spoken against” and that He would cause “the fall and the rising of many in Israel.” He also foretold Mary’s sufferings because of her son (Luke 22.34–35). Anna also was present and, giving thanks to God “she spoke of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2.38).

In the service of the feast of the Meeting of the Lord, the fact emphasized is that Christ, the Son and Word of God through Whom the world was created, now is held as an infant in Simeon’s hands; this same Son of God, the Giver of the Law, now Himself fulfills the Law, carried in arms as a human child.

Receive him, O Simeon, whom Moses on Mount Sinai beheld in the darkness as the Giver of the Law. Receive him as a babe now obeying the Law. For he it is of whom the Law and the Prophets have spoken, incarnate for our sake and saving mankind. Come let us adore him!

Let the door of heaven open today, for the Eternal Word of the Father, without giving up his divinity, has been incarnate of the Virgin in time. And as a babe of forty days he is voluntarily brought by his mother to the Temple, according to the Law. And the elder Simeon takes him in his arms and cries out: Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, O Lord, who has come to save the human race—glory to Thee!

Vespers of the Feast

The Vespers and Matins of the feast of the Meeting of the Lord are filled with hymns on this theme. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated with the lines from the canticle of Mary forming the prokeimenon and the words of Simeon being the verses for the Alleluia. The gospel readings tell of the meeting, while the Old Testament readings at Vespers refer to the Law of the purification in Leviticus, the vision of Isaiah in the Temple of the Thrice-Holy Lord, and the gift of faith to the Egyptians prophesied by Isaiah when the light of the Lord shall be a “revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk 2.32).

The celebration of the Meeting of the Lord in the church is not merely a historical commemoration. Inspired by the same Holy Spirit as Simeon, and led by the same Spirit into the Church of the Messiah, the members of the Church also can claim their own “meeting” with the Lord, and so also can witness that they too can “depart in peace” since their eyes have seen the salvation of God in the person of his Christ.

February 2nd is also our parish anniversary of moving into our current building. We purchased our building in October of 2019, and opened the doors for the Sunday Divine Liturgy on February 2, 2020. It was indeed a glorious day. For the benefit of those who were not with us, Metropolitan Isaiah presided over the Orthros Service at our former location of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, and we then processed to our new home for the Liturgy. Everyone gathered in the congregation that morning, carried a liturgical item from the former location to the new.

The day was filled with excitement and anticipation. Excitement for what has happening at the moment, and anticipation of what the building might become. And of course, that anticipation is currently being realized. In fact, from the moment we received possession of the space, some project or matter of improvement has continually taken place. Large or small, noticed or subtle, improvements efforts have been unceasing. 

The Lord’s Presentation to the Temple will forever coincide with our presentation into our temple. Our parish enjoys so many historical and spiritual connections to the (literal) family prayers and rituals of Jesus and His ancestors. Let us continually strive to attain a worthiness and favor before God. 

 With Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for January 29, 2023

Weekly Bulletin for January 29, 2023

Categories
Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message January 22, 2023

No one is going to tell you that you will be condemned to everlasting punishment for missing divine services on a Great Feast or on a (Weekday Service). However, as Orthodox Christians attending these services is something we should want to do, something we should want to share with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ, something we should feel a desire and a pleasure in taking part in. And taking part in these services, being mystically present at the events commemorated as we stand in the parish church, is something that elevates us spiritually.

Fr. Michael Shanbour

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I pray that your week has been uplifting and all is well in your homes and in your lives. Last weekend, some of our parish youth traveled to Tulsa, OK to participate in our Metropolis Basketball Tournament. Even though the tournament, like many aspects of our lives, is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, it is still the largest, single gathering of the entire Metropolis of Denver, with over 650 registrants. Our kids represented our parish well, not only winning their division of play, but especially as mature and exemplary young people, on and off the court.

We returned to Salt Lake City on Monday afternoon. And after a long and exhausting weekend filled with late-night activities and early-morning starts, I looked forward to the two Weekday Divine Liturgies that were to take place the following two days: The Feast of St. Anthony the Great on Tuesday, January 17th and the Feast of St. Athanasios the Great on Wednesday, January 18th. Though both divine services were lovely and filled with God’s grace, I could not help but notice a trend that has been settling in at our St. Anna parish. 

The gradual, but apparent decline of participants at weekday services has been on my mind and heart for quite some time. We can’t blame COVID for this emerging, bad habit. In fact, when we celebrated a fixed, Seniors Liturgy during the pandemic, it was not uncommon to share the Eucharist with 30 to 50 people. There were not even 30 people at Theophany, one of the Primary Feasts of the Church. 

I am positive that there are many reasons why church may not seem important during the week. And to be sure, the world today will tell you, that if, IF, you go to church at all, it should be relegated to Sunday mornings. Our schedules are busy. Our lives are packed. Our calendars are full. Of course, many of us work during the weekday mornings and it may not be possible to attend. But I am praying diligently that a malaise or spiritual laziness is not creeping in, upon us. 

There are many measures of a thriving Christian Community. And there is no doubt that, thankfully, St. Anna’s is able to check most of those boxes. But let’s be very real in understanding that the worship life of an Orthodox Church is THE LIFE of an Orthodox Church. Our souls must pine for the receiving of the Holy Mysteries and run towards any opportunity to partake of Them. Participating as the Body of Christ within the experience of worship is the defining characteristic of our Faith. I would ask each of us to take a proper account, and prayerfully assess our spiritual priorities. Allowing every opportunity for God’s grace to shower over us and equip us with the necessary strength to combat the challenges of the day can only be helpful and edifying.  

Be mindful that, as we are about to celebrate the Presanctified Liturgy during the Lenten Season, that this very service was created specifically for a people who yearned for a greater liturgical connection to God during the week and were prohibited from receiving Communion during the weekdays of Lent. Would such a service even be devised or seen as necessary in today’s secularly infiltrated world?

I am super grateful for Sunday participation. Visiting priests always comment, and I mean always, on the number of people who come to church on the Lord’s Day. Let’s keep that up, and even strive to do better. But c’mon, folks, the rest of the Saints are praying for your participation in their celebrations, too. 

Equal to the anemic participation in morning services, and this really makes me sad, is the lack of participation in the monthly Paraklesis Services to St. Anna. As a reminder, our parish is blessed to have a Relic of our Matron Saint Anna. And to show our continual love, dedication, affinity, and connection to the Mother of the Mother of God, we gather before her precious Relic each month and chant the Paraklesis Service with her physical presence in our very midst. I fear it is getting lost on us, what a tremendous honor and blessing it is, for a parish to have a Relic of its Patron or Matron Saint for the faithful to continually pray before and venerate. I can’t think of a better time to kickstart a renewal of active worship, than Friday, January 27th at 7:00 pm. Our Matron Saint Anna calls us to a vibrant, active and deliberate relationship with her Grandson and our Lord, Jesus Christ. And Christ compels us to properly acknowledge His Yiayia!

Wow. Even as I type this message, I can see that the tone and tenor is different than anything I’ve ever written to this community. I’ve gone back and asked myself, “Is that to direct?” “Is this to harsh?” I keep answering myself by leaving every word that is pouring out of my heart. As a spiritual father, I desire that our parish be filled with those who love the Lord and who desire to be in His presence at every given opportunity. Is that realistic? Of course not. We are busy. We work. We go to school. But 30 or so people at Theophany, and five or six people consistently (sometimes less) at morning Liturgies and other services is a call to attention that cannot be ignored.

Normally, I suppose I’d ask forgiveness for this kind of rant, and subjecting you to this loving, little nastygram. But rather, I ask forgiveness from God that I have not properly led you in the priorities of an active Orthodox life of worship; not just on Sundays, but on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and Fridays, and Saturdays. 

Thank you for your acceptance of this note in the spirit in which it was written. If and whenever possible, come to church!

With Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

Categories
Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for January 22, 2023

Weekly Bulletin for January 22, 2023 Spyridon Save the Date

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message January 15, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings from Tulsa, OK, the host city for the Metropolis of Denver GOYA Youth Basketball Tournament. Many of the parishes of our holy Metropolis are represented, and I am happy to say that so are we! Thank you to Coach Gerard Gallegos for leading our boys and preparing them for a weekend of fun competition and fellowship. Please pray for the health and wellness of our kids who are here, playing ball for our St. Anna parish. 

Please know that you will experience a special and exhilarating treat as you approach the church building this Sunday for church. As you can see from the above picture, and perhaps as you may already have seen on social media, the crosses that were blessed in the church last Sunday, are now in their permanent and appropriate place atop the bell tower and exterior mosaic of our St. Anna Church. Special thanks to architect, James Derby for his design of the crosses. The size, style, color, texture, and proportion are perfect. The backdrop of the mountains is the perfect environment for our precious church. God bless you all for your continued support and vision. Believe me, I have showed this picture to countless people here in Tulsa. Their reaction is consistently breathtaking. And these are people who will largely only see it in pictures. You get to worship in this church!

Michael Petrogeorge, the editor of our Weekly Bulletin also has some information that we would like to share regarding the Bulletin.

The pdf version of the weekly bulletin has been updated to include new technological features in the form of hyperlinks.  There are three types of hyperlinks in the .pdf version of the bulletin:

The first type of hyperlinks are icon hyperlinks on the first page of the bulletin.  These hyperlinks will take you directly to our parish Facebook page or YouTube channel  Simply click on the icon in the .pdf and your internet browser should open and take you to the desired location:

Facebook and YouTube channel links

The second type of hyperlink is an email hyperlink.  Where an individual email address is referenced in the bulletin, just clink on the email address and the hyperlink should automatically open a blank email automatically addressed to the individual you are trying to email (see example below):

Email link

The third type of hyperlinks are embedded text hyperlinks.  These hyperlinks will take you to the or social media page or website referenced in the text of the bulletin announcement. Simply click on the referencing text and the your internet browser should open and take you directly to the referenced webpage or social media page (see example below):

Parish Website link

With Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for January 15, 2023

Weekly Bulletin for January 15, 2023

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for December 25, 2022 & January 1, 2023

Weekly Bulletin for December 25, 2022 and January 1, 2023 Patriarchal Encyclical for Christmas 2022 Archepiscopal Encyclical for Christmas 2022 Christmas Message from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver 2022

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for December 18, 2022

Weekly Bulletin for December 18, 2022 Holiday Schedule 2022 House Blessing Form 2023

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message December 11, 2022

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we continue to progress through the Christmas Season, it is to become distracted by the trappings of the secular world. Pressures to find the perfect gift, in the perfect size, at the perfect price is the perfect storm. The Thanksgiving Table is barely cleared when the tree comes in, the lights go out and the bins in your garage are removed. The house is disheveled for a period of time before, in a whirlwind activity, the home is transformed into a winter wonderland.

Our thing: Nutcrackers. We have dozens of Nutcrackers in the house. They have nothing to do with the Nativity, with Bethlehem, with the Incarnation or with the Panaghia. They just mean Christmas, in a general, decorative sort of way. Thankfully, and importantly, the Church will always keep us from veering off into a materialistic abyss. Yes, we, even as a community decorate gingerbread houses and host seasonal gatherings. We also celebrate sacred services and attempt to ground ourselves in the spirit of why these days and weeks are lifted up as unique and exceptional.   

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

To be sure, the most oft quoted and prolifically used line of Scripture. These words set the tone, give the reason, and explain the very Birth of Christ. While the Birth Narratives of the Savior account the details, this Bible verse allows us to understand the “why.” Why was Christ born of this world. Why did God descend from His heavenly throne? Why born of Virgin? Why then, and not now? Why this? Why that?

Why? Because God loves us. He gave us the gift of life. He gave us a present. Not tied with a bow or wrapped in paper. He thought of the perfect gift and freely bestowed it upon us. This is why we imitate Him every stressful December. Please don’t let overly religious zealousness remove the joy of giving something to somebody.

As a parish, you fulfilled the full Wish Lists of 60 children, plus gifted an additional 50 senior citizens. And look at the images of our GOYA kids from last night. They went on little $400.00 shopping spree at our neighborhood Target. This may not seem like allot, but they brought their own money and purchased things that they’d like to have themselves, for their disadvantaged peers. Having them dispatched in a box store for a half hour, shopping for things they might take for granted helps them, well, not take things for granted. It was a beautiful sight.

As we continue our Christmas frenzies, whatever they may be, never lose sight of the ultimate gift and its ultimate purpose. Eternal Life. Life celebrated and witnessed in the Church. To me, the dusty, dirty, trampled upon floor of our church is symbolic imagery of these precious realities.

Not long after winter comes to a close, we will be moving into new classrooms and office spaces. We will create a new bookstore, enjoy new bathrooms and get a glimpse into the near future of our sanctuary, as the exonarthex (entry foyer) and narthex are completed. God’s generosity abounds. As we receive His abundant grace, let us turn around and share it with others. Others we know and others we do not. God knows.

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas

Protopresbyter

Categories
Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for December 11, 2022

Weekly Bulletin for December 11, 2022