December 20, 2020
First Day of the Forefeast of & Sunday before the Nativity of Christ
Hebrews 11:9-10,17-23,32-40: Reading from Hebrews we hear the Apostle tell us of the faith of Abraham and other saints of ancient times who endured hardships and death and yet still did great things because of their faith.
Matthew 1:1-25: In the Gospel we hear the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and of how Joseph was visited by an angel of God who told him of the child that Mary bore in her womb.
Troparion of the Resurrection: Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; for the Lord hath done a mighty act with his own arm. He hath trampled down death and become the First-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.
Troparion of the Forefeast: Be thou ready, Bethlehem, Eden hath opened unto all. Ephratha, prepare thyself, for now, behold, the Tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave of the holy Virgin. Her womb hath proved a true spiritual Paradise, wherein the divine and saving Tree is found, and as we eat thereof we shall all live, and shall not die as did Adam. Verily, Christ shall be born, raising the likeness that fell of old.
Troparion of Sunday before the Nativity: Great are the accomplishments of faith; for the three holy youths rejoiced in the fountain of flames as though at waters of rest. And the Prophet Daniel appeared a shepherd to the lions as though they were sheep. Wherefore, by their pleadings, O Christ God, have mercy upon us.
Troparion of the Chains of St. Peter: O Holy Apostle, Peter, thou dost preside over the Apostles by the precious chains which thou didst bear. We venerate them with faith and beseech thee that by thine intercessions we be granted the great mercy.
Kontakion Preparatory for Nativity: Today the Virgin comes unto the cave to give birth in an ineffable manner to the Word before the ages. Rejoice, therefore, O universe, when you hear, and glorify with the angels and the shepherds him who shall appear by his own will as a new babe, being God before the ages.
From Father John: In His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH’s last communique regarding the restrictions for participation in the services at our churches, he stated that, we should follow the guidelines based on our local numbers with the virus. As our numbers locally are rising, we will be dropping back to 35 participants at liturgies (which includes the priest and chanters). I will continue to try my best to rotate, as fairly as possible, our members who are healthy and wish to come to the services. Thank you for your cooperation with these restrictions.
Please continue to follow the CDC Guidelines to limit contagion and the spread of the COVID virus.
ATTENTION: Please be reminded that both the Archdiocese and the Governor have issued directions which mandate that masks be worn while in public/group settings. If you are inside of the church, you must wear a mask. Only the chanters and serving clergy are exempted from this during services. Masks should be worn outside, too, if you are in close proximity to others. You have done well with this for the most part, but with a few lapses recently, I wanted to remind you of this essential precaution. — Fr. John
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: All services listed on the calendar will be available through streaming and webcast.
Sunday, December 20 (Sunday before the Nativity; Ignatios, the God-bearer of Antioch)
8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)
10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)
Monday, December 21
Father John’s Day Off
Wednesday, December 23
6:30 p.m. — Advent Paraklesis
Thursday, December 24
7:00 a.m. — Royal Hours
10:00 p.m. — Festal Orthros followed by Divine Liturgy
Friday, December 25(The Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ)
Saturday, December 26(Synaxis of the Theotokos)
6:00 p.m. — Great Vespers (No Ninth Hour Prayers)
Sunday, December 27 (Sunday after the Nativity of Christ; Proto-martyr Stephen)
8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)
10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)
Eucharist Bread …was offered by the Brocks for the Divine Liturgy this morning.
Please remember that the schedule for prosphora is still in place as we will continue to serve the Divine Liturgy.
Also, please remember that we still need your tithes and offerings which may be placed in the tithe box at the back of the nave or be mailed to: St. Peter Orthodox Church, P.O. Box 2084, Madison, MS 39130-2084.
If you are ready to return to the services of our church, please let Fr. John know so that he can add you to the list of attendees. It is up to individuals to request attendance at the services. Fr. John attempts to be fair in allotting slots, but he does not make assignments or phone calls.
Please remember Fr. Joseph and Kh. Joanna Bittle, and their daughter Abigail, in your prayers.
Please remember the following in your prayers: Steve, Sheryl Chamblee; Aidan Milnor, the Milnor family; Sam and Lamia Dabit; Mary Greene (Lee and Kh. Sharon’s sister); Jay and Joanna; Fr. Leo and Kh. Be’Be’ and their family; Emad and Natalia Alaeetawi and their family; Tom and Kathy Willingham.
Continue to pray for Metropolitan Paul (who is also the brother of our Patriarch) and the Syriac Archbishop John of Aleppo who were abducted while on a humanitarian mission in Syria.
Eucharist Bread Schedule (NO Coffee Hour):
Eucharist Bread Coffee Hour
December 24 (Thurs. p.m.) Henderson
December 27 Algood
December 31 (Thurs. p.m.) Katool (Artoklasia Bread)
(Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord and the Feastday of St. Basil the Great)
January 3 Schelver
January 5 (Tues. p.m.) Morris
(Feast of Theophany)
January 10 Jones
January 16 (Sat. a.m.) Meadows
(Feast of the Chains of St. Peter)
January 17 Davis
January 24 D. Root
January 31 Karam
February 1 (Mon. p.m.) Meadows (Artoklasia Bread)
(Presentation of our Lord in the Temple – Great Vespers with Litia & Artoklasia)
February 7 Brock
February 14 R. Root
February 21 Henderson
February 28 Algood
March 6 (Sat. a.m.) Katool Koliva:
(Saturday of the Souls)
March 7 Schelver
March 14 Morris
March 21 Jones
March 24 (Wed. p.m.) Meadows
(Feast of Annunciation)
March 28 Davis
Condolences to Anne Habeeb on the repose of her father, James Longstreet Minor. May he find rest in the Kingdom of God. Let us pray for Mr. Minor and his family.
Pray for Rachel and Andy Anderton as both have contracted the coronavirus.
We are still accepting St. Nicholas offerings. If you wish to contribute to this, please make a note on your check.
If you get sick, especially with the Corona virus, please let Fr. John know.
The Archdiocese Convention scheduled for 2021 in Pittsburgh has been cancelled due to the pandemic. This was necessitated by the hotel’s demand for an excessive nonrefundable deposit.
The new Icon Calendars are available on the table in the hall outside the nave. Please only take one per family.
* The Fast of the Nativity has begun. During this time, we will celebrate the Advent Paraklesis on Wednesday evenings instead of Daily Vespers.
* The schedule of services for the Feast of the Nativity is as follows:
7:00 a.m. (December 24th) Royal Hours
10:00 p.m. Festal Orthros followed by Festal Divine Liturgy of
St. John Chrysostom
Please note that we will adhere to the 35 person attendance limit (including clergy and chanters) due to the coronavirus. These spaces will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.
* We will celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord and the Feast of St. Basil the Great with Great Vespers with Litia and Artoklasia on Thursday evening, December 31st, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Sunnybrook Children’s Home: St. Peter’s will once again help support the children at Sunnybrook Children’s Home in Ridgeland. This year we will make a cash gift to Sunnybrook to be used either for a retreat for the children that have no other home for Christmas or to meet the needs of a young lady who is trying to recover from the trauma of seeing her father murdered in front of her when she was age 12. She is a senior in high school now and trying to get on her feet to go to college with the many expenses that entails. We will send one check to be used at the discretion of the staff at Sunnybrook. If you would like to contribute toward this, please make your check payable to St. Peter Orthodox Church and note “Sunnybrook Children’s Home” on your check. Many thanks! Pray for these children.
A Benevolence account remains in effect at St. Peter to help the Strain family deal with Warren’s medical bills and other needs. If you would like to make a donation to this fund, please note on your check that it is for the Warren Strain Benevolence Fund. 100% of these funds will go to the Strain family. (All funds previously raised to go toward the purchase of a special van will now be applied to Warren’s funeral expenses.)
Save the Date! The Diocese of Miami and the Southeast will hold a Virtual Winter Retreat January 29th – 31st, 2021. Registration materials will be available at a later date.
Fasting Discipline for December
During the Fast of the Nativity the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, eggs, fish, wine or oil) is observed each day of the week. Note, however, through December 19th there is a katlysis on Tuesdays and Thursdays when wine and oil are permitted, and on Saturdays and Sundays when fish, wine and oil are permitted. There will be no fasting of any kind from December 25th through January 4th.
Major Commemorations for December
December 20 Ignatios the God-bearer of Antioch
December 25 The Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
December 26 Synaxis of the Theotokos
December 27 Protomartyr Stephen
Instructions for streaming our services can be found on the parish website.
ead of ManHead of Maonasteries
Quotable: “The holy Fathers say with one voice: The first thing to keep in mind is never in any respect to rely upon yourself. The warfare that now lies before you is extraordinarily hard, and your own human powers are altogether insufficient to carry it on. If you rely on them you will immediately be felled to the ground and have no desire to continue the battle. Only God can give you the victory you wish.
This decision not to rely on self is for most people a severe obstacle at the very outset. It must be overcome, otherwise we have no prospect of going further. For how can a human being receive advice, instruction and help if he believes that he knows and can do everything and needs no directions? Through such a wall of self-satisfaction no gleam of light can penetrate. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight, cries the prophet Isaiah (5:21), and the apostle St. Paul utters the warning: Be not wise in your own conceits (Romans 12:16). The kingdom of heaven has been revealed unto babes, but remains hidden from the wise and prudent (Matthew 11:25)oly Spirit, goiven and sent by both the FFaa.”
Tito Colliander, The Way of the Ascetics
Worship: Sunday, December 27, 2020 (Sunday after the Nativity of Christ; Proto-martyr Stephen)
Scripture: Acts 6:8-7:5, 47-60; Matthew 2:13-23
Celebrant: Father John