of Sts. Theodore Orthodox Church
A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
96 Los Robles St., Williamsville NY 14221
(716) 634-6712 ststheodore.org
Very Rev. Dr. Peter Jackson, rector
Rev. Fr. John Boddecker
Rev. Deacon Andrew Hammond
Vol. XV, No. 1 January 2014
Христос рождается! Славите!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Saturday Vigil 5:00pm
Sunday Divine Liturgy 9:00am
Sunday Bible Study after coffee hour
Wednesday Akathist 6:00pm
Confessions are heard at all evening services.
The Nativity of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
Monday, December 24/January 6
Royal Hours, 9:00am.
Confessions will be heard after the service.
Sochelnik (Lenten Nativity Eve Supper), 5:00pm
Vigil (Compline and Matins) 6:00pm.
Confessions will be heard during Matins.
Tuesday, December 25/January 7
Divine Liturgy, 9:00am
Note: There is no fasting at all from Nativity through Jan. 17. The 18th is a day of fasting. Oil and wine are allowed on that day.
The Holy Theophany of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
Friday, January /17 Royal Hours, 9:00am.
Confessions will be heard after the service.
Saturday, January 5/18 Vigil (Compline and Matins) 6:00pm.
Confessions will be heard during Matins.
Sunday, January 6/19 Divine Liturgy, 9:00am, followed by the Great Blessing of the Waters
House blessings will begin after the services on the 19th and continue through the following week. Please let Fr. Peter know when you would like him or Fr. John to come. Please prepare by setting out Holy Water on a table, preferably before an icon and with a lit candle, if you have one. Ladies should wear skirts and cover their heads, as is the case any time a priest comes to lead prayers at your home.
Name Days This Month
January 12/25: Tatiana Kawa, Tatiana Popova, and Tetyana Sabers (Holy Martyr Tatiana of Rome) January 17/30: Anthony Damiano and Anthony Venticinque (St. Anthony the Great) Многая Лета! Many Years!
Many, many thanks to everyone who helped clean up from the flooding on Sunday, December 22. We were not able to serve the Divine Liturgy, but we did commune with one another and with Christ through our service to Him.
The Jacksons thank everyone for their prayers as they traveled to the Midwest St. Herman Youth Conference and visited several Midwestern parishes to speak about their mission to Guatemala. Many thanks to Fr. John for serving while the Jacksons were away.
Congratulations to our new catechumen, David Sai! Please remember him and our other catechumens in your prayers as they prepare for Holy Baptism.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the special collection last Sunday for the child Maxim Lvov, who is recovering from a rare form of pneumonia caused by staphylococcus. His parents, Deacon Dionisiy and Nadia, are facing a hospital bill for over $134,000. If you would like to help, checks should be made payable to: Denis Lvov, with the memo: "For Maxim Lvov Fund" and sent to: Rev. Denis Lvov 2220 65th Street, Apt. 108 Brooklyn, NY 11204, USA
“Peace on earth to men of (God’s) good will”
Archpriest Peter Jackson
I recently read this exchange in an interview with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Navpaktos, Greece, a disciple of the late Fr. John Romanides and one of the most important Orthodox figures of our time: Question: What does the hymn that was chanted by the Angels at the time of the birth mean: "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to men of good pleasure"? What "peace" (ειρήνη) did the Angels mean here, and what does the word "good pleasure" (ευδοκία) mean? Answer: The peace of which the angels sang at the birth of Christ is the union of the divine and human nature in the Person of Christ. Christ assumed human nature in His Person and deified it, by which all of human nature was brought peace from the consequences of the fall, and in this way every person was given the opportunity to participate in this peace, by living within the Church, with her sacramental and ascetic life. The Church is the "place" in which man experiences the love and peace of God. The word good pleasure, according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, who used various patristic texts, such as Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint John of Damascus and Saint Gregory Palamas, means that the reception of human nature by Christ was the original/prior will of God for the deification of humanity (according to the will of His good pleasure). The deification of man could not take place if there was not a hypostatic union of the divine and human natures, the uncreated and the created natures. However, the law through Moses, the words of the Prophets, etc. were imperfect (according to the will of concession) due to the fall, but were perfected through the incarnation of Christ. This is the difference between the will "according to good pleasure" (κατ' ευδοκίαν) and "according to concession" (κατά παραχώρησιν). The incarnation of Christ was the original plan of God, His good pleasure. What was introduced after the fall of Adam, was the Cross and death. Let me break this down in plain English. God had a Plan A which was spoiled, and so He had to introduce a Plan B. This teaches us that God adapts His will to our actions. Think of the Prophet Jonah. God told Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh that He was going to destroy their city: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). This was Plan A. But then the Ninevites did something which led God to change His plan: they repented! Could God still have destroyed their city? Of course. He could do whatever He wanted. But He chose to respond to their repentance with His mercy. This was Plan B for the Ninevites. Now this made Jonah furious. “How dare God change His mind! (… and make me look like a fool!)” But change His mind He did. Don’t let anyone tell you that God never changes His mind. To claim otherwise is to make God smaller than He is. God is big enough to adapt to our choices, whether good or bad. This is a specific example of God introducing a Plan B that just affected a particular time and place, but at Nativity we focus on God’s plan for all of mankind. In the beginning, God had a Plan A for Adam and Eve. If they had been obedient, God would have become man and mankind would have been deified directly. But because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they broke their relationship with Him and the world became damaged. This ancestral sin became compounded by all of the disobedience and passions of Adam and Eve’s descendents to this day. We are born into a corrupted world where it is easier to sin than not. (This is very different from Western Christianity’s notion of “original sin”, that is, the false teaching that we are born guilty of Adam and Eve’s sin.) So God came up with Plan B: He would not only become man, but because of our fallen nature and fallen world, He would die and rise again, so that we can die and rise with Him. Metropolitan Hierotheos is explaining that the Holy Fathers call God’s Plan A His will “according to good pleasure”, and Plan B is His will “according to concession”. It is interesting that the Gospel passage that is often translated “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” sometimes appears as “Peace on earth to men of good will” (Luke 2:14). The Greek manuscripts that have come down to us put this two different ways. This used to confuse me because they seemed to be two very different things: Are the angels saying that God is wishing us well (“goodwill toward men”)? Or was their message that God’s peace is only for those whose will is good (“to men of good will”)? Our culture hears in these words nothing more than God having a warm, fuzzy feeling toward mankind. But Metropolitan Hierotheos teaches us that the Holy Fathers have always seen something much more profound at work here. The angels’ message to the shepherds that night was that Christ’s birth was the fulfillment of God’s original plan from all eternity: His Plan A. The moment of Christ’s birth can even be said to be more momentous than His Resurrection, because Christ had to die and rise only as a result of Plan B. It was not God’s original intention for Christ to die and rise again, but was always His plan to become man. The expression “to men of good will” is only confusing if we misinterpret it to mean our own good will. In fact, it has to do with God’s good will, meaning His Plan A. This is the only way that the two different wordings can both be found in Greek manuscripts without contradicting each other. “Good will toward men”, then, means that God is now finally bringing His great plan to pass. And “to men of good will” means to those whose will coincides with God’s great plan. When the Holy Fathers explain it this way, there is no conflict between the two alternate readings. God loves us so much that even while we were still in our sins, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). But the message of Nativity is that even above and beyond this, there is God’s original plan from all eternity: for God to become human that we might become divine. This is His Plan A for us and for all mankind. We must bring our will in line with God’s will in order for this to come to pass. Let this be our prayer this Nativity!