St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Weekly Newsletter for the week Friday, January 4, 2008 through Thursday January 10, 2008

NEW ANNOUNCEMENTS

GROWING SPIRITUALLY THROUGH LITURGY - For the next several weeks there will be a short presentation at each liturgy highlighting the ways that we can all learn about and grow closer to God and one another though our liturgical experience.  The series will culminate in the celebration of one of the more ancient liturgies of the Orthodox Church, the Liturgy attributed to St. James.

Last week (December 30) the topic was Introduction:  The Purposes of Liturgy, presented by Teva Regule.  Additional copies of the outline from that talk are available on the Bengarri. This Sunday, January 6, the topic will be Growing Spiritually through Liturgy: Scripture, presented by David Vermette. An outline of this talk will be included in the Bulletin.

PARISH COUNCIL - Parish Council members for 2008 will be sworn in next Sunday, January 13.  

REMINDERS

DISPENSATION FROM FASTING - From Christmas Day until Friday, January 4th, inclusive, there is a general dispensation from all fasting.

PARISH COUNCIL MEETING -  The next meeting of the Parish Council will be Thursday, January 17, at 7:30 p.m., in the small Hall next to the kitchen.

ANNUAL PARISH MEETING - The Annual Meeting of St. Mary Parish will be held on  Sunday, January 20, 2007, immediately following Divine Liturgy.  It will be brief;  we will approve the Year 2008 budget, review expenses for 2007, and hear short committee reports and updates. All members of the parish are urged to attend.  In case of inclement weather, the snow date will be Sunday, January 27.

2007 OFFERINGS -- If you have any contributions remaining towards your 2007 pledge, please remember to turn them in to the church -  via the collection plate, Bengarri or mail - right away.

2008 PLEDGE CARDS - Please take the time to fill out your 2008 pledge card, which was mailed out recently, and return it to the Church Office as soon as possible in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided.  Your annual pledge is a vital part of support for the paris h.  Everyone, including students and new arrivals, is encouraged to make a stewardship commitment to St. Mary's.  If you do not have a pledge card, please contact the Paris h Office so that you may receive a New Member Packet.

2008 OFFERING ENVELOPES - The new envelopes are ready for pickup outside of the Church Office.  If you have requested envelopes, you should find your box there. (If you contribute less often than weekly, you will not be assigned envelopes.)  Note:  2008 Church calendars have still not arrived, but are on their way.

CHRISTMAS BASKET DONATIONS - Once again, the Women's Club is requesting your support with monetary donations toward the purchase of items for our annual Christmas Baskets for the Battered Women's Family Shelter.  Each year, gifts baskets are made up of household items and given to the families to facilitate their moves into new homes and apartments.  Please see Louise Homsy or Shirley Bezreh at the Bengarri.  Make checks payable to St. Mary Women's Club and earmark:  Battered Women.  It's not too late! Thank you.

COFFEE HOUR VOLUNTEERS NEEDED - Several upcoming Sundays are available,  so please sign up to sponsor a coffee hour, individually or with friends.  Some do this to celebrate a special event or anniversary, others simply as an act of hospitality. It can be as simple as coffee, juice, and cookies.   Signup sheets are on the bulletin board downstairs outside the Hall. Isn't it your turn by now?

FOOD DONATIONS CONTINUE - Even though the Teens' World Food Day project has ended, please continue to bring cans, jars, and boxes of food and place them in the container outside the Church Office. The need is still great at St. Paul 's Food Pantry in Harvard Square , where volunteers from St. Mary help every Saturday. 

SOUP KITCHEN - Three or four St. Mary's volunteers are needed to help each week at the Open Doors Meal Ministry at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Allston, Mondays any time between 4:00 p.m. and 7:30. Contact Liz Tutella at 617-974-5005 or ETutella@sovereignbank.com.          

FOOD PANTRY - Two to four St. Mary's volunteers are needed to help each week in the food pantry at St. Paul 's RC Church in Harvard Square . Contact Christian Alcala  at cmalcala1989@yahoo.com or 617-876-5684.

INSIGHT

Theophany:  From the Greek, theo (God), and phainein (to show forth), theophany means an appearance of God to man, or a divine disclosure.

   - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophany

Excerpts from "Discourse On the Day of the Baptism of Christ," by St. John Chrysostom:

Why isn't the day on which the Lord was born considered Theophany, but rather this day on which He was baptized? Christ made Himself known to all,  not when He was born, but when He was baptized.

There was a Jewish baptism, which cleansed from bodily impurities, but not to remove sins.  Not so with ours: it is far more sublime and it manifests a great grace, whereby it sets free from sin, it cleanses the spirit and bestows the gifts of the Spirit. And the baptism of John was far more sublime than the Jewish, but less so than ours: it was like a bridge between both baptisms, leading across itself from the first to the last. ... John did not say, "Wash your clothes, wash your body, and ye will be pure," but what? -- "bear ye fruits worthy of repentance" (Mt 3:8). Since it was more than that of the Jews, but less than ours, the baptism of John did not impart the Holy Spirit and it did not grant forgiveness by grace; it gave the commandment to repent, but it was powerless to absolve sins.

For whom was Christ baptized and by which baptism? Not the Jewish, nor ours, nor John's ... not for repentance, nor for the remission of sins, nor for receiving the gifts of the Spirit. [But for two other reasons.] Which reason for this baptism did John declare? Namely, that Christ should become known to the people, as Paul also mentions: "John therefore baptized with the baptism of repentance, so that through him they should believe on Him that cometh" (Acts 19:4); this was the consequence of the baptism.  ...  When all the people thronged out from all the cities to Jordan and remained on the banks of the river, and when He Himself came to be baptized and received the testimony of the Father by a voice from above and by the coming-upon of the Spirit in the form of a dove, then the testimony of John about Him was made beyond all questioning.

And there is a second reason, about which He Himself spoke.  When John said: "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?", He answered thus: "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." (Mt 3:14-15). ... By righteousness is meant the fulfillment of all the commandments ... Since fulfilling this righteousness was necessary for all people -- but no one of them kept it or fulfilled it -- Christ came then and fulfilled this righteousness. ... As Christ was circumcised, offered sacrifice, kept the sabbath and observed the Jewish feasts, so also He added this remaining thing, that He was obedient to having been baptized by a prophet. ... Thus, if obedience to God constitutes righteousness, and God sent John to baptize the nation, then Christ has also fulfilled this along with all the other commandments.

LITURGICAL SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEK

Saturday, January 5:  Great Vespers 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 6:  Epiphany (Theophany) -  Orthros  8:45 a.m., Festal Liturgy of St. Basil and Blessing of the Waters 10:00 a.m.; followed by presentation by David Vermette: Growing Spiritually Through Liturgy:  Liturgy of the Word

SCRIPTURE READINGS for January 6:

Epistle:  St. Paul's Letter to Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit...

Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven...

LOOKING AHEAD

Saturday, January 12:  Great Vespers 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 13:   Orthros  8:45 a.m., Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, January 16:   Evening Liturgy for Feast of St. Anthony the Great 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 20:  Parish Meeting immediately following Liturgy

VOLUNTEER SCHEDULES

FOOD PANTRY

Two to four volunteers help each week in the food pantry at St. Paul 's RC Church in Harvard Square , Saturday mornings from 9:30-11:45.  If you are willing to help, contact Christian Alcala at cmalcala1989@yahoo.com or (617) 876-5684.

January 5:  Kern Ormond and Nadine Rebovich

LITURGICAL SERVICE

The Epistle each Sunday is read by a member of the congregation, and six members of the congregation hold the cloth and Holy Bread baskets during Communion.  If you would like to help with these services,  please contact Jeff Wasilko at jeffw@smoe.org or 781-820-0882.

January 6:    Epistle - Bob Kowalik

Communion Assistance -

COFFEE HOUR

To sign up for an available Sunday, please put your name on the signup sheet on the bulletin board outside the Hall or call Marilyn in the Office 617-547-1234 and she'll write your name in.

January 6:  The Sayeg family