Reflection of the Sunday after Theophany

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By St. Theophan the Recluse
Yesterday the Apostle armed the Christian who sets out upon the path of salvation with
the whole spiritual armor. Now he shows who the leaders are in this battle procession,
and what is the final bright goal of all for our inspiration in times of hardship. The leaders
are pastors and teachers, whom the Lord gave to the Church and through whose mouth
He Himself utters guiding direction needful for all, as soon as one turns to such leaders
with faith and prayerful appeal to the Lord. Those who selflessly walk the Lord’s path
know this truth, as do those who lead a struggle with the enemies of salvation without pity
for themselves. In their pastors they always find help and are brought to understanding,
when, looking from the outside, such help could not be anticipated. For they do not come
to men, but to the Lord, who is always prepared to direct and give understanding through
such men, to anyone who sincerely and with faith seeks help from Him. The final bright
goal is the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ—the stature of a perfect man
(Eph. 4:13). We all know what a perfect man is in the usual order of things, and we could
hardly find a person who would not wish to attain such perfection. But the meaning of a
perfect man in the Lord is something not known to anyone other than those who have
entered into that stature. This, however, should not cool one’s fervor for the attainment of
such a stature, but on the contrary should kindle it even more; for this lack of knowledge
is due to the height of that spiritual perfection which is called a manly stature in a life
according to God. The Apostle defined this as the taking on of the fullness of perfections
revealed in the Lord and Savior. Anyone can see that there is reason for us to apply all
diligence (II Pet. 1:5) toward our calling.

God has granted us a wonderful Christmas gift! ...Christmas liturgy ahead!

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Dear ESC members, I am in the very pleasant position to announce you that God has inclined his ear to our prayers!!  Today I have just received a call from the Holy Archbishopric that fr. Pablo Lopes has just arrived from the US (originally from Argentina) and that he will be sharing with me all the activities of our English Speaking Community.  Fr. Pablo was sent by his Beatitude Archbishop of America Elpidoforos to Cyprus to learn the Greek language for one year.  After the completion of the course he will have to return to the States.  So thankfully he will be serving on a daily basis our English liturgies.  Consequently on Christmas Eve he will serve his first English liturgy at our church at 10.45pm.  It ll be like a kind of a small vigil which will finish around 12.20am.   I have just met fr. Pablo today, and he had the chance to be present at my catechism class that was held this evening. (check photo)  I feel that we will all be blessed by his presence and diaconia because he is a very good willing man with great zeal.   Let us all welcome him warmly and thank God for His great gift!! 

In Christ

Fr. Ioannis

Christ lifts our burdens

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The stores get a jump on things when it comes to Christmas. They begin decorating and advertising many weeks in advance to give us plenty of time to buy gifts and be prepared for the big day with family and friends. The Church has done something similar for centuries. Orthodox Christians are already in the preparation period since November 15th (28th). We call it “Christmas Fast.” The Church calls us to spiritual attention through prayer, worship, reflection on the most important issues of life and a disciplined diet to prepare for a true celebration of the birth of Christ.
A well-known hymn of Christmas is already being sung at Matins. And a few decorations are appropriate. “Christ is born, glorify Him! Christ from heaven, come to meet Him! Christ on earth, be exalted! Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Praise in gladness, all people, for Christ has been glorified!” The center of Christmas is Christ. We celebrate the birth of Christ as the Incarnation of God, the mystery of God’s loving embrace of conflicted and suffering humanity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Today’s Gospel (Luke 13:10-17) tells about the healing on the Sabbath day. The Lord was teaching in a synagogue in Galilee. We can imagine Him drawing from the rich themes of the Old Testament and expounding on God as a loving Father, a God of righteousness and mercy, a God who loves and cares for the poor, the needy, the oppressed. In that synagogue there was a woman who much needed God’s help. The woman had developed a physical ailment. She was bent over and unable to straighten her back.

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"

Mathew 28:19