Be glad, O heavens, and rejoice exceedingly, O earth. Let the mountains break out in gladness, and the hills in righteousness. For the Lord had mercy on His people, and comforted the humble of His people. But Zion said, “The Lord forsook me, and the Lord forgot me.” “Will a woman forget her child, so as not to have mercy on the offspring of her womb? But even if a woman should forget these things, nevertheless, I shall not forget you,” says the Lord.– Isaiah 49:12-15
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is Born!
As we are only a few, short days into the New Year, I pray upon you, your homes, and your families, an abundance of grace, health, joy, growth, peace and love. I believe that 2019 is a year destined for glory for our parish and for the families who call St. Anna their spiritual home.
Christmas time is the joyful period when we anticipate all of the goodness of Christ and await to see the plan of salvation unveiled before us. The Infant Christ, is surrounded by animals and shepherds, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of poverty, His life in danger, He is void of any physical comforts, and looking like…well, looking like any other baby that has ever been born.
And even as we approach the Lord’s Baptism, to be commemorated this Sunday, January 6th as the Feast of Theophany (The Revelation of the Triune God) we are still, awaiting with great anticipation, all of the blessings, instructions, intentions and knowledge that is still, yet to be realized.
Christ is no longer a tiny infant, but a fully-grown, 30-year-old Man. But up to this point, what did the people know about this Man?
God’s plan for the salvation of humankind is about to be revealed. But up to this point, what did the people know about His plan?
The Lord’s will was that His creation should be restored to Him and that they must be allowed back into the eternal comforts of His Kingdom. But up to this point, what did the people know about His Kingdom.
His miraculous Birth would allow God to dwell with us. His Baptism would reveal Him to us. His earthly ministry would attach Him to us. His Passion, Suffering and Crucifixion would sacrifice Him for us. His Resurrection would save us. And again, I ask, up to this point, what could the people, possibly have known, about any of this?
Actually, they could (should) have known plenty.
The entirety of the of the Old Testament Cannon is recognized recognized, as a continued prophecy of the birth, life, ministry, reign, and authority of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Savior, the King, the Revealer, the Revealed, the High Priest, The Sacrificial Lamb, the Lord. The Lord!
The above-cited passage from the Prophecy of Isaiah is but one, only one example of how the scriptures continually pointed to, and referenced the plan of the Father, through the obedience of the Son.
The passage from above is taken from the Great Hours that precede Epiphany Services (in our case, Saturday morning at 9:30 am) in order to prepare us for the awesome greatness that is about to be unleashed, or rather, washed over us, through the waters of the Jordan that will flow abundantly from the Fount of Waters that will be consecrated unto our health and salvation.
In other words, The Church reminds us, through the services of Epiphany that God does not desire wrath and destruction upon His creation, even though our entire history has been to reject His ways, turn from His commandments, spurn His guidance, discard His blessings, and remain blind to His mercies.
In spite of all that, He offers His Only Begotten Son as a willful sacrifice, to bow His head in the ritual of Baptism and submit to the hand of the Baptist. He does this to fulfil prophecy and comfort us and be merciful towards us.
In these coming days, the rush of flood waters that are His grace upon us, are revealed through the Blessing of the Waters, and received through the receiving of the Holy Water into our homes.
You have access to a myriad of Blessings through your participation in the services that orbit around the heavenly-conceived and inspired reality that is the Baptism of Christ.
I invite you to participate in as many services as possible, especially this January 6th, when we will have the incredible opportunity to celebrate Epiphany (synonymous with Theophany) on a Sunday. The Waters will be blessed, and they will surround you all around. They will saturate, they will soak and they will overtake. The Jordan River will be revealed as the source of goodness and a spring of salvation.
Please know that you are also invited to send in the attached form in order that your home and/or business may be blessed with the Holy Water of Epiphany. House Blessings are lovely opportunity to receive into your
homes, the gracious prayers that emanate from the church and continue into the recesses of our houses.
Also remember, that this coming Sunday is not only the celebration of Epiphany, but perhaps the most historically significant gathering or our St. Anna parish since our founding, as we deliberate and finally vote on the purchase of our first, permanent home. The acquisition of real property is an amazing step in our relatively, brief existence. But there is a need, and there is work to be done.
For all these reasons, and more, this Sunday is NOT a Sunday to miss!
The Lord is our comfort. He reveals this through His mercy. He signals it through Baptism.
He invests in it through the Baptism of He, Himself. The Christ.
With Love in our Lord Who Turned Back the Waters of the Jordan,
I would like to make you aware that this edition of the Sunday Bulletin, is the first to be prepared by Elaine Peterson, the new editor of the St. Anna Sunday Bulletin. Up to this point, the sacred task of the Bulletin’s preparation was done most faithfully by our parish council secretary, Michael Petrogeorge. Since the Bulletin’s inception, Mike worked diligently and continually on its near-weekly production. Week in and week out, no matter if he might have been on vacation, travelling on business, engaged in a trial, or busy with family obligations, he always…always had the Bulletin prepared. This type of consistency, dependability and steadfastness is quite rare, and in this spirit, our St. Anna parish was lifted up through the prayer, hard work, sacrifice and trust in God, demonstrated by Michael and all of our founders. To Elaine, I say thank you for continuing this essential ministry, together with Goldie Karpakis, Elleney Soter and Leo Davis who assist in their various ways. And to Michael, I say thank you for dependability beyond comprehension. Well done, good and faithful servant. Enjoy your Bulletin Retirement!