Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom (d. 407)
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away. (more…)
April 23 through May 1
The Orthodox Holy Week and Pascha services set before us a rich feast of Christian experience that no seeker of God should miss. This article is to speak briefly of them to give our guests an idea what to expect. Many people ask me how long these services last, so I have given the time as well as I remember. Orthodox are not very conscious of time in the Church services; if you think you can’t stay for the entire service, just come for what you can.
LAZARUS SATURDAY, April 23, 9:00 a.m. – This is the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom such as we have on most Sundays, celebrating the raising of Lazarus (John 11). It lasts about an hour and 45 minutes. This is considered the beginning of Holy Week, since His love for His friend Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha was the immediate reason that Our Lord returned to Judea (John 11:8). This service is served in bright vestments as the raising of Lazarus is a precursor of Our Lord’s own Resurrection and ours.
PALM SUNDAY, April 24, 9:30 a.m. – Procession with palms outdoors around the Church and Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. This is a festive service recalling Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. After Coffee Hour we return to the Temple for the first Bridegroom Matins service, so that our out-of town members can attend it.
BRIDEGROOM MATINS is so called from the haunting theme song which begins:
Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight. And happy is that servant whom he shall find watching, But behold, unworthy is that servant whom he shall find heedless… (cf Matt. 25:1 ff, Luke 12:35 ff)
Our Lord is the Bridegroom whom His beloved bride, His people, were not ready to receive. At these services we read the scathing prophesies addressed these three days to the leaders of Israel (Matthew 21:18 – 23:39). Will we be ready when He comes? Each Bridegroom service lasts about an hour.
HOLY MONDAY and TUESDAY, April 25-26, 6 p.m. – Bridegroom Matins (see above).
HOLY WEDNESDAY EVENING, April 27, 6 p.m. – we bless olive oil and members are anointed with it for healing. Our Lord’s death and Resurrection are for our healing and salvation: “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This service lasts about an hour, and will be followed by Bridegroom Matins.
HOLY THURSDAY, April 28, noon – we serve the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil celebrating the Mystical Supper at which Our Lord washed His disciples’ feet and instituted the Eucharist.
HOLY THURSDAY, April 28, 6 p.m. – Matins of Holy Friday. During it we read twelve Gospel readings of Our Lord’s crucifixion, interspersed with some of the most beautiful hymns of the whole year. In the middle of this service a large Cross is placed in the center of the Church for veneration. This service lasts over two hours.
HOLY FRIDAY, April 29, 3 p.m. – Vespers. The Epitaphios, a fabric with an image of the Lord laid in the tomb, representing the burial cloth of the Lord, is carried in procession and laid on a special table covered with flowers representing His Tomb.
HOLY FRIDAY, April 29, 7 p.m. – Matins of Holy Saturday – the Epitaphios is carried in procession through the cemetery next to the Church, as Christ descended among the dead to raise them to himself. This service lasts about an hour and a half. The many readings and hymns of the Holy Friday services present us with many different facets of the awesome and compelling mystery of our Lord’s Passion.
HOLY SATURDAY, April 30, 9 a.m. – Initiation of new members and Divine Liturgy. This is the ‘Blessed Sabbath’ on which God rested — in the Tomb, the real meaning of Genesis 2:2. It is the most appropriate time for Baptism, as those baptized are ‘buried’ with Christ to share His Resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). Lent has its origin as the last intensive preparation for those who would be baptized this day. Our new members will be Baptized and Chrismated (Anointed), then we read 15 Old Testament readings that illuminate Baptism, including the Creation and the Exodus. Then we read the first Resurrectional Gospel from Matthew 28 and continue with the Divine Liturgy. This service lasts about three hours.
HOLY SATURDAY, April 30, 11:30 p.m. – this is THE service of the year for Orthodox, and no one wants to miss it. At midnight all lights in the Church are put out. This is the darkness and silence of the Tomb. Finally the bishop or priest comes out of the altar with a candle. Everyone comes forward and lights a candle from this light. Carrying the candles, we make a procession outside around the Temple, coming back to the front porch. There we hear the greeting ‘Christ is Risen!’ for the first time and reply, ‘Indeed He is Risen!’ We will greet each other this way for forty days. We go into the Temple, now brightly lighted and adorned with flowers, and sing the joyous Paschal Matins and Liturgy, and members receive the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord. After this service we go to the Parish Hall and find the tables sagging with every kind of good food, and we celebrate together until quite late.
SUNDAY May 1, there is NO MORNING SERVICE (the midnight service was the Sunday Liturgy).
SUNDAY, May 1, 4 p.m. we will gather for the short, joyous Paschal Vespers and more feasting. This will take place at St. Peter Orthodox Church, 180 St. Augustine Drive, Madison, and members and clergy of Holy Trinity and St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church, Jackson, will join us. The Jackson area Orthodox churches do this service together every year; join us for the service and the feast afterwards.
Let us fast with a fast pleasing to the Lord. This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessation of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing. The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable.
–Monday Vespers of the First Week
The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian
O Lord and Master of my life
Take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk.
But grant rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother,
For blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.
The Twelve Days of Christmas are a festival of the revealing (Epiphany) of the Lord in the flesh, including His Birth, Circumcision, and Baptism. The culmination is His Baptism, which marks the beginning of His public ministry. We celebrate this by blessing water, into which He descends and from which He rises, showing us already His Death and Resurrection.
A basin of water will be blessed in the Church on January 5, and all the local Orthodox Churches will gather at the Old Trace Park on the Ross Barnett Reservoir for an outdoor blessing of water on Sunday, January 10. We invite you to join us for all these services.
St. Basil the Great and Circumcision of the Lord:
Thursday, Dec. 31, 6 p.m. Vespers, with Prayers for the Civil New Year
Friday, Jan. 1, 9:30 a.m. – Divine Liturgy of St. Basil
Theophany: Baptism of the Lord
Tuesday, Jan. 5, 6 p.m. – Blessing of Water in the Church
Sunday, Jan. 1o, 4 p.m. – Blessing of Water at Ross Barnett Reservoir
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 6 p.m.
Royal Hours of the Nativity
Thursday, Dec. 24, 6 p.m.
Nativity Vigil: Great Compline and Matins
Friday, Dec. 25, 9:30 a.m.
Rylee Ann was baptized Sunday, November 22. Her patroness is the Abbess Kassiani, author of many beautiful hymns.
This week we celebrate the Entrance of Our Lord’s Mother into the Temple:
Friday, November 20, 6 p.m. Great Vespers
Saturday, November 21, 9 a.m. Divine Liturgy
This feast describes the three-year-old Mary being taken by her parents to the Temple, where she remained in a life of holiness and dedication. Though the story be legend it yields insight into spiritual truth. The scriptures for Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy all speak to the relationship between man and God within the context of the Temple and emphasize holiness and the superiority of the living, eternal temple to that built of stone. In Mary we see both. Rather than being sanctified by the Temple, she sanctifies the Temple and all mankind by becoming herself the perfect temple in which dwelt the eternal Son. Truly she was set apart, even as a child, and consecrated to the most glorious work God granted humanity. Truly she is the instrument by which we, too, become living temples in which God lives and which live eternal. Truly we, the holy, catholic church, the living Temple of God, open our doors to her, most blessed of women, the Holy Mother of God. – from the bulletin of St. Peter’s Church, Madison
Matushka Katherine (Evelyn Roane “Sissy”) Gooch Yerger, 73, fell asleep in the Lord unexpectedly on Wednesday, October 7. Visitation will be held at 5 p.m. and the funeral service at 6 p.m. Friday, October 9. The Divine Liturgy will be served at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 10, with burial and Mercy Meal following, all at Holy Resurrection Church. Burial will be in the Clinton Cemetery next to the Church.
Matushka Sissy leaves her husband, Father Paul Yerger, three daughters, Wisdom Yerger and Mary Yerger of Jackson and Mrs. Margaret Elliott of Memphis, son-in-law Michael Elliott of Memphis, two grandsons, James Rucks Elliott and Paul Hite Elliott of Memphis, two brothers, John H. Gooch, III, of Savannah, GA, and Dr. William R. Gooch of Kingston, NY, three sisters, Elizabeth Gooch Dearsley of Richmond, VA, Frances Gooch Saval of Petersburg, VA, Rebecca Gooch of Middlebury, VT, and many nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents, John Hite Gooch, Jr., and Elizabeth Cave Gooch, stepmother Ann Humphrey Bintliff Gooch, and a sister, Mary Jane Gooch.
She was born in Houston, TX, April 22, 1942, and grew up mainly in Texarkana, AR, and Richmond, VA. She attended St. James Day School in Texarkana and Thomas Jefferson High School and Westhampton College in Richmond. In Richmond she worked for A.H. Robins pharmaceutical company and Virginia Commonwealth University. In April, 1971, she met her husband, then the Episcopal clergyman Norval Yerger of McComb, Mississippi, and they were married six weeks later.
In 1977 the Yergers embraced Orthodox Christianity and settled in Jackson where her husband, now Father Paul, became the first pastor of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, which relocated to Clinton in 1980. At Holy Resurrection she was the first choir director, bookstore manager, janitor, and everything in between. For many years she invited every visitor and single person at the Saturday evening Vespers service to her home for dinner, which contributed greatly to the growth of the church. In Jackson she worked as Communications Director for United Way and Copy Editor for Godwin Group advertising agency. In her youth she enjoyed sailing, horseback riding, golf, tennis, and jogging. She loved the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PA, and visited there many times.
Memorial gifts may be made to Holy Resurrection Church.
Center for Pregnancy Choices
Fundraiser for the Center will be Tuesday, October 13, at Broadmoor Baptist Church, 1531 Highland Colony Pkwy, Madison. Dinner will be served at 6:30; program starts at 7:15.
This non-political group provides counselling and material aid to help women avoid abortion. It is very worthy of our support.
Tickets are $15 per person. Ticket sales end October 2nd. For more information and tickets see http://www.cpcmetrofriends.org/ or call 601-713-2322.