Pastoral Letter December 17, 2017

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you will no doubt notice, this week’s Sunday Bulletin is actually a two-week Bulletin. Those who produce and edit our Sunday Bulletin, namely Michael Petrogeorge and Goldie Karpakis spend a great deal of time in the creation of our parish’s primary means of communication. In an effort to alleviate this responsibility during the week before Christmas, we offer this extended version so that they can place their attention in other areas. Let us take this opportunity to bless and thank them for the continued and significant responsibility of doing the Sunday Bulletin.

As we pour into the contents of a two-week Bulletin, especially at this time of year, you’ll see that there is allot in there. Tons of activities, meetings, services, social gatherings and youth activities. In other words, there is much to anticipate when we contemplate a two-week span of December activities.

There are immediate joys, such as our annual Pet Blessing that will take place this Saturday, December 16th at 3:00 pm in the church parking lot (lightheartedly by the fire hydrant). Our Children’s Christmas Program is this Sunday, followed by a GOYA Ice Skating Outing and Christmas Party. Our Women’s Ministry Team will distribute gift baskets to our shut-ins, including blankets that were crafted by our parish youth. The schedule of services for the Nativity, and Theophany have been repeatedly published so that you can anticipate, and prayerfully plan ahead, how many services you can attend in preparation for, and in celebration of, our Lord’s Birth and Baptism. Anticipation is the definitive element during this time of year.

As adults, we anticipate and work towards the dizzying amount of responsibilities which come with the Holiday Season. Your days are shorter and your “to-do” list is longer. There is no escaping this present-day circumstance.

And children, our precious little ones are engrossed completely in anticipating the joys, the sights, the smells, the sounds, the traditions, the gifts and the magic that comes with Christmas morning. To be sure, much of this anticipation is filled with the Season’s secular contributions. Nevertheless, their excitement fuels our own childlike wonderment and nostalgic recollections, as we harken back to our own impatience and…anticipation. Don’t lose that innocence and youthful perspective. Don’t outgrow the feelings of anticipation for Christmas.

However, I invite you to look back even further than your own childhood, as you contemplate the eagerness of anticipated gifts. I call you back past the experiences of even your parents, grand parents and all your ancestry.

Anticipate Christmas. Anticipate Christ. Anticipate Christ like Isaiah the Prophet.

For centuries, the anticipation of the Messiah was filled with the same, arguably much more suspense, and expectation as what Santa will leave under the tree and place in our stockings. We once looked to the future, with great excitement, looking for comfort, council and salvation. We looked past the horizon for a King. We awaited God’s interaction.

In the event of the Nativity, we received the fulfilment to our anticipation.

And in the days before St. Nicholas took on new responsibilities, a new red suit, a new mode of transportation, a new North-Pole address, a new work force, new magical powers, added pounds, imposters in malls and the executive responsibility of the toy manufacturing industry, the Christian heart contemplated the anticipation of what His birth means to the world.

With the Incarnation of the Word, we now anticipate eternal life, salvation in the Lord, a re-admittance into Paradise and a place in His Kingdom.

The Prophet Isaiah, in the above-referenced passage speaks of anticipation in the ultimate sense. Let us use a Sunday Bulletin that is twice as big, and covers twice the normal time-span to be reminded that we are a people who are active in God’s presence, and anticipate the fullness of His Resurrection and the Light which illumines all of creation.

In the spirit of anticipation, I use this forum to wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful Nativity. I invite you to experience the fullness of the season by participating in as many services as possible. Yes, this is a busy time of year. But I absolutely guarantee, that if your focus your anticipation in the right direction, your experience of spiritual fulfillment will be exponentially rewarded and increased.

Recapture the magic. Christ is to be Born! Glorify Him!

The zeal of the Lord of hosts HAS performed this!

With Much Love in Christ,
Fr. Anthony