This Weekend: Hierarchical Services

This week was the start of the Diaconate Boot Camp hosted by our parish and we are concluding the conference with the Hierarchical services of All Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy this weekend.

Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Archpriest Andre Papkov and Protodeacon Vadim Gan will be joined by our visiting clergy attending the conference.

Saturday evening, after the All Night Vigil, we will be hosting a banquette at 8:00PM to raise funds for the new temple for our parish. The cost is $10 a plate with both meat and vegetarian options.

Come and meet the Bishop, visiting clergy and students!

 

 

 

Here’s the schedule:

Saturday, May 5th, 5:00PM – Hierarchical All Night Vigil w/confessions. PLEASE NOTE EARLY TIME

Saturday, May 5th, 8:00PM – Banquette Fund-raiser Dinner.

Sunday, May 6th, 9:00AM – Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

Sunday, May 6th, 12:30PM – Lunch

The Bishop is Coming!

Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan is coming to our parish!

For the past month we’ve been promoting the 2018 Diaconate Boot Camp that our parish is hosting next week, starting Wednesday, May the 2nd through Sunday, May the 6th.

Joining us will be Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, along with our teachers: Archpriest Andre Papkov and Protodeacon Vadim Gan. Not only is Fr. Andre the dean of Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago, he is also the director of the Jordanville Liturgical Music School and dean of the Pastoral School. Fr. Vadim is the Protodeacon of the Synodal Cathedral in NYC.

Students, consisting of laypeople, deacons, readers and subdeacons, will be traveling from all over the US to learn the art of the Diaconate from these masters! As the weekend arrives, everyone is invited to attend the Hierarchical services: Vigil with confessions on Saturday evening, May 5th at 6:30PM and Divine Liturgy Sunday morning, May 6th at 9:40AM.

WE NEED YOUR HELP:

To prepare for this important event we are having a parish work day this Saturday, April 28th from 9AM all the way to Vigil at 6:30PM. Lunch and dinner will be provided by St. Nicholas.

Aside from a much needed cleaning after our Pascha celebration, we also want to get the parish and her grounds ready for the extensive filming that will be going on during the Diaconate Boot Camp. So much needs to be done and we are hoping you can make time to help us out!

LET’S GET THE CHURCH SPARKLING THIS SATURDAY!

  • We will focus on the interior, exterior of the temple including the grounds
  • Starts at 9AM then break for Lunch at 1:00PM
  • Continue working at 2:00PM then break for dinner at 5:30PM
  • Vigil with confession, pre-communion rule starts at 6:30PM

For more information about the Boot Camp, visit the Liturgical Arts School website.

Last Sunday before Lent!

 

Greetings in Christ!

Tomorrow is the “Forgiveness Sunday”, the final Liturgy of the season before Great Lent, which starts at 9:40AM. Tonight, Saturday evening at 6:30PM, will be Vigil with Confessions. We encourage everyone to prepare for the Lenten season by partaking in the Mystery of Confession so that we can take Holy Communion together tomorrow at the Liturgy for Forgiveness Sunday.

Our schedule for Great Lent is also on our new website where you will find our listings for important Lenten services like the Canon of St. Andrew and the evening Vesperal Liturgies of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.

May God bless us to take full advantage of the Lenten services, and to bring our hearts to repentance on our way to the Feast of Feasts – the Resurrection of Christ, the Great and Holy Pascha!

Trip to Tube World

Do you have cabin fever yet? We’re taking a trip to TubeWorld in Maggie Valley February 10th for the 12:00 session. This event is open to all St. Nicholas parishioners and anybody else who might be interested in a really good time. Some of us went there today the snow is high and the tubes were fast. You can find more information about Tube World here.

Contact John Cummings, Reader Abraham or Reader Aidan for details. We’re working on transportation and there is some money available to help you if you are in need. Otherwise, it’s $25.00 per person.

New schedule, Nativity Services and News

Full Nativity schedule and new weekly schedule

This Weekend is Nativity!

Come and celebrate the birth of Christ at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. Our service schedule is Friday morning (1/6) at 7:00AM for Royal Hours, this Saturday night (1/6) at 6:30PM for Vigil and Sunday morning (1/7) at 9:40AM for Divine Liturgy. Afterwards we will break the fast with a festive pot-luck meal!

NEWS UPDATE: A new schedule for 2018 starts this week with Tuesday night Compline in Waynesville at the Cumming’s house and Wednesday night Vespers starts back up in Fletcher in the Church. As always, check our calendar on the front page of the website for any last-minute changes.

Trapiza help needed!

At this time, we have a real need for people to help out and commit to a trapeza team. If you are a regular at trapeza and enjoy it week after week, please consider getting involved in a team. The food doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, and if the team members communicate, a well-planned meal with plenty of variety can be had. Also, if someone isn’t able to bring food, at least commit to be part of a team and help with the clean up. Please email John Cummings at [email protected] or catch him at Church and let him know that you’ll be willing to commit. Brush off those cooking and dishwashing skills and let him know when you can help.

New Bookstore for 2018

Thanks to Tabitha and Ignatius, our bookstore is restocked and redesigned! Come and see our new selection of books, icons and other items.

New Website for 2018

Thanks to Samuel, we finally have an updated website that has everything from daily scripture readings, parish news, full service schedule, past sermons, pictures and recordings of our choir. This website will continue to develop over the next few weeks.

Building Project 2018

We are well on our way to finally building our new Church! We will be adding a new section to the website soon giving updates as we progress!

Parable of the Sower

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In today’s Gospel the Lord begins the parable by stating:

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.”

Our Christ reveals the meaning of this statement by saying:

“The seed is the Word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.”

Here we can see from our Lord’s description the truth that the devil is like a roving lion, ready to pounce on his prey. He truly is the enemy of our Salvation and Christ continues the parable by saying:

“Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.”

Our Saviour explains this statement to mean:

“… the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.”

We can identify those in this category as the ones who may be attracted to the Gospel immediately because they know in their heart it’s true, yet they really don’t want to repent.

That’s why they have no root when temptation comes.

To these kind of people, Salvation is merely a concept—an attractive idea; after all—who wants to burn in hell, right? But, it’s not a concept that they actually want to “live out” according to the precepts of the Gospel, because it takes pain and effort.

In fact, some even claim there’s nothing more to repent of because Jesus washed away and paid for all of our sins; kind of like a Protestant version of the heretical indulgences once promoted by the Latins.

However, in today’s epistle reading St. Paul said, “… if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”

Continuing on, our Christ says in the parable:

“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.”

For this statement, He explains:

“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.”

Notice here Christ admits these people are actually able to produce fruit, but it never reaches maturity. Maybe they get baptized, are zealous for a few years, start to show the beginnings of fruit on the vine, but then “cares of the world” set in. Maybe it’s work—they’ll say, “I can’t come Church, go to Confession and come to the Chalice because I have to work on Sunday, and besides, I don’t have time to properly prepare, so …”

All this ties in with the pursuit of money, causing neglect in the Spiritual life. And then they seek pleasure, because of working so hard. You can fill in the blank here, as many challenges can fit in this category.

The point is, the struggle is set aside, just as spiritual fruit is starting to show on the vine.

And lastly, concerning the third category of people, the Lord states:

“But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.”

And Christ explains this saying as:

“The ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

From this we learn that sincerity, nobility are the qualities of a good heart. The Word is kept in patience, bearing good fruit.

This means they persevered when tempted, for example, to stop watching their tongue.

This means they patiently struggled through difficult people, or were wise enough to completely separate themselves from people who were a source of temptation, as St. John Chrysostom recommends us to do.

The bottom line is these kinds of people are able to attain the will power needed to actually apply the Gospel, second to second. And it’s not easy!

So may God bless us to remain rooted in the good soil, nourished by Christ, and provided here on earth by that encompasses His Church.

Your identity is Christ

September 27, 2017
The Universal Elevation of the Precious and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

In the epistle reading today for the Exaltation of the Cross, St. Paul states: “For the preaching of the Cross is, to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.”

St. Paul later in the passage says,

“. . . the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty . . . .”

For those of us who are regulars here at St. Nicholas, this fact about which St. Paul speaks is well known.

I have spent quite a bit of time lately in my sermons pointing out examples of how the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. And the last time Metropolitan Jonah was here, he made a very simple, but direct, statement on this topic of the cross when he said, “when we take up our cross, expect to be crucified upon it.”

According to the world, our existence should be managed to avoid conflict and inconvenience. Yet, we know from experience that so many of our obligations—as Orthodox Christians, in the spiritual life—are quite inconvenient; we’ve all established, confirmed, and verified that. We live it; at least we try to. And it’s not easy.

But, here’s the good news! While we are called to crucify ourselves on the cross, we must always remember that our sins are also nailed to the cross! This fact should cause us great joy when we actively engage in self-examination, and ultimately, self-crucifixion. Because when we dredge up and expose our darkest passions, and become disgusted with ourselves, we should always remember that we need to complete our crucifixion by nailing our sins to the cross of Christ. And we do this by asking—and receiving—forgiveness of our sins.

This should be for us a wellspring of joy, because if we ask Christ to forgive us, we will receive forgiveness! And with His help, we will proceed on the journey of repentance, carrying our cross! Indeed, this should cause us also to dig deeper in repentance and self-examination because this is the process for us to purge ourselves of our sins and passions.

But unfortunately, in the process, I think that we don’t allow ourselves that medicinal joy as often as we should—the joy that comes when we truly perceive that our sins, once forgiven by Christ, once nailed to the Cross, are as far from us as the East is from the West, and are blotted out—making our souls white as snow, just as we are when we come out of the baptismal font.

And I think the reason why we don’t allow ourselves to comprehend the depths of forgiveness is because often we can’t get past the spiritual trauma we experience from engaging in spiritual warfare, especially when we have fallen into sin in momentary defeat.

The key is that when we have been knocked down, we should not stay down.

St. Macarius of Optina says: “Do not allow the spark of discord and enmity to smolder. The longer you wait, the more the enemy tries to cause confusion among you.”

In other words, once we see our sins, we needn’t wallow in them. We need to get to confession and purge ourselves, and unburden ourselves.

St. Silouan, whose memory we celebrated a few days ago, says this about our falls into sin:

“Do not fall into despair because of stumbling. I do not mean that you should not feel contrition for them, but that you should not think them incurable. For it is more expedient to be bruised than dead. There is, indeed, a Healer for the man who has stumbled, even He Who on the Cross asked that mercy be shown to His crucifiers, He Who pardoned His murders while He hung on the Cross. ‘All manner of sin,’ He said, ‘and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,’ that is, through repentance.”

Indeed, Elder Thaddeus of Vitrovnica says, “There is no sin that cannot be forgiven except the sin of not repenting.”

Having said all of that—what can be said to seal these words of encouragement into our hearts, so that we can tap this wellspring of joy? Well, I can’t think of a better truth than St. Paul’s words when he was pondering his own sinfulness. He said to the Romans:

“I don’t understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now, if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who does it, but sin that dwells within me.”

That’s amazing and very deep!

Here we have the golden key to our problem of not experiencing the joy of forgiveness. You see, St. Paul is absolutely not taking his sinfulness as his own identity. Indeed, he is seeing the sinfulness as a foreign intruder, as something separate from his true identity. Basically he is saying to his sinfulness, “that’s not me”!

Now, when we fall into sin it doesn’t mean we aren’t culpable—yet, we can see the profundity in St. Paul’s statement, and—I believe—there is a great deal of liberation that can come from this truth, if we can accept the reality of what St. Paul and many other fathers after him are saying here—especially the Optina elders.

In fact, I believe this attitude—understood properly in the context of our True Identity—which is Christ—can lead us to grasp the statements made by our saintly fathers, who all basically say that we should not wallow in our despair, but rather rush to the Cross—because the same cross that we carry as our struggle, is the very same Cross upon which Christ nailed our sins!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!