Feasts of Ss. Joachim and Anna (10th Anniversary of the Reception of their Holy Relics)

As we anticipate the Feasts of Ss. Joachim and Anna on September 9th, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the reception of their Holy Relics, and the 12th anniversary of the reception of the Holy Relic of St. Anna, I invite you to thank God for His abundant goodness that has brought us to this point as a Parish.  It’s been humbling, reflecting upon these giftings and the subsequent blessings and miracles that have been wrought through their holy intercessions.  And, I will admit, it’s humbling and awesome to think of the blessings that have yet to be realized as we build up the Body of Christ –welcoming others into the Orthodox Christian Church – and construct a sanctuary to the glory of God, through the prayers of Ss. Joachim and Anna.

In addition to praying Divine Services through Sunday, I again invite you on behalf of the clergy, the Parish Council and the Philoptochos to join us as we commemorate these blessings on Saturday evening following Great Vespers.  I also encourage you to visit our website and to learn about the spiritual treasurers we have in our midst, https://www.saintanna.org/the-holy-relics-of-saints-joachim-and-anna/ Through their holy prayers, may our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continue to bless each of us, granting us every good gift unto salvation.

Our liturgical schedule is as follows:

6 Sept                    Akathist to Ss. Joachim and Anna, 6pm

7 Sept                    Orthros and Liturgy, 6PM (Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos)

8 Sept                    Supplication to Ss. Joachim and Anna, 6PM

9 Sept                    Orthros and Liturgy, 9AM (Feast of Ss. Joachim and Anna)

                               Great Vespers, 5PM

                               Parish Dinner Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Reception

                               of the Holy Relics of Ss. Joachim and Anna

10 Sept                  Orthros and Liturgy

                              Luncheon in memory of Rev Fr. Demetrius Dogias and in support of our

                              Parish Seminarians


Spring General Assembly (Proposed Agenda)

On Sunday, April 30, our Parish will gather for our Spring General Assembly.  Although we will be providing an update for our building program (plan review, contractor selection, loan process) as well as discuss our forthcoming Greek Food and Wine Festival, we’ve also intentionally asked leaders from our various ministries to briefly speak, sharing highlights from their ministries.  It’s truly amazing (and humbling) to realize just how much Christ-centered activity is always taking place around us at the Parish.  And, with so many new people at the Parish, it’s important that we’re all familiar with opportunities to not only pray, but also to work together.  It is ultimately for this reason that we are building a Sanctuary – so we can glorify God and serve others, all unto salvation!  

Our General Assembly will also provide us the opportunity to have a meal together.  It will be one of our Parish potlucks, so please bring a portion of our common meal.

Volunteer for the 2017 Festival

Volunteer for the 2017 Festival!  Please follow the instructions below: 

1. Look in the upper right hand corner of the church web page for the “NAVIGATION BAR” with the page titles. If you are using an ipad or cell phone, you may see a square NAVIGATION BAR of white bands, so click on that instead. When you see the drop down screen, select the word VOLUNTEER.

2. Our Volunteer Options are: Greek Food & Wine Festival, Coffee Hour and Candle Duty.

3. Click on the section of choice. You will be forwarded to the SignUp Genius webpage for that area of interest.

Follow the next steps:

4. Scroll down to the Tasks / Area of interest, then to the date(s) and time(s) you wish to volunteer. (DO NOT SIGNUP THROUGH THE GREEN UPPER RIGHT HAND CORNER FIRST.)

5. Click on the box or series of boxes for the dates you can volunteer. Check marks should appear in the boxes you select.

6. Go to the bottom of the page and click on “Submit and SignUp”.

7. The window that appears shows the date(s)/time(s) you request.

8. You now have two options: Existing users can login or new users can create a new account.

9. Check the optional boxes as preferred (email for calendar, display alternate name, phone number).

10. Click on SIGN UP NOW! You should receive an email confirmation along withemail reminders for your selected shifts.

For Help with SignUp Genius contact Susie Sobchak. ssobchak at gmail.com

Christmas Encyclical of Metropolitan Gerasimos

"And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude
of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
goodwill toward men.'"  

Luke 2:13 - 14
Dearly Beloved,
When the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was announced to the shepherds, the heavenly messengers proclaimed a new vision for humanity. The birth of the Messiah would inaugurate an era of peace instead of violence, and harmony instead of division.

The people were looking for new signs of hope. They needed change from the poverty and oppression under which they suffered. The shepherds, representing all ordinary people, sought out the Child and went and worshipped Him in Bethlehem. The Magi, representing the intellectuals of the day, saw the star in the heavens announcing that a new King had been born, and they too sought out the Child. When the shepherds and the Magi found Him, they encountered this new vision for their lives: Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, and "we beheld His glory. . . full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

What glory could be found in a newborn child surrounded by animals and resting in a manger? What vision did they receive from a child? A vision of God's love and compassion. A vision of humility and service. This new vision opened their eyes to new realities, new possibilities for all humanity. Yet, the myopia of power and profit was threatened by God's message of peace and goodwill. King Herod sought to destroy the Child, but God's messengers thwarted his plans. Was it ever realistic to think that those who sought only to enhance power and prestige would respond positively to a message of God's love, humility and service? The Word had become flesh. He had entered history and overturned everything. And as we learn from the Gospels, Jesus proclaimed the Good News, that the "Kingdom of God was at hand". (Mark 1:14)
We, today's followers of Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, still hear the message of the angels to the shepherds and are called to share this Good News with all. We have been told to seek the Child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger and offer Him gifts. You will find Him in your parish and especially in the Holy Eucharist. Your charitable deeds, from donations to community service, are the gifts He seeks.
We have been called to continue His work in the world, the work He began in Bethlehem, of building His Kingdom of peace and goodwill for all people, not just a privileged few. This is the work that begins in our homes and among our families, but extends to all we meet in our daily lives, chiefly in the way we treat one another. When we reach out to others, especially the poor, the disabled, the outcast, the lonely, and extend our hands to them in friendship, respect and kindness, the kingdom of God becomes visible, "on earth as it is in heaven."
May the Good News proclaimed by the angels fill your hearts. May its promise bring hope and joy to you and your loved ones on this Christmas Day, and throughout the coming New Year.
With Love in the Newborn King,
@ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco


Patriarchal Encyclical for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ

Patriarchal Encyclical for Christmas
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
to the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Mercy and Peace from the Savior Christ Born in Bethlehem
“Christ’s incarnation is my own recreation”[1]
Beloved brothers and sisters, dear children in the Lord,

We praise and glorify the God in Trinity, who deemed us worthy once again this year to reach the great feast of the Nativity in the flesh of the Son and Word of God the Father in “little Bethlehem.”

The holy Church is celebrating with fullness of joy, for Christ “assumed flesh” through His incarnation[2] and rendered the Church “an adornment for the world.”[3] Indeed, the entire human race, and even “all of creation,” rejoices over this divine blessing. “All of creation is today filled with joy because Christ is born of a Virgin.”[4]

In contrast to the “unmoved mover” of the ancient Greeks, our God is the communion of love and lovingly moves in time toward humankind and the world. “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us.” (1 John 4.10)

The pre-eternal Word of the Father, who granted “being” to humankind, now grants us “well being” through His incarnation. “This is the reason behind the feast; this is why we celebrate today: namely, God’s descent to us so that we might ascend—or return—to God . . . in order that, by laying aside the old man, we may assume the new man; and in order that, by dying to Adam, we might therefore live in Christ; in order that we might be with Christ, be crucified with Him, be buried with Him, and arise with Him.”[5] The way of deification through grace is henceforth open to everyone coming into the world. All of us are “capable of containing God.” “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free man, neither male nor female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3.28)

Unfortunately, the Gospel of Christmas is once again proclaimed to a world where the racket of weapons is heard, where unprovoked violence against individuals and peoples is enacted, and where inequality and social justice prevail. It is unbearable to witness the state of countless children, victims of military conflict, irregular situations, manifold exploitations, persecutions and discriminations, as well as hunger, poverty and painful dispossession.

Last April, we had the opportunity in Lesbos to witness with our own eyes—together with His Holiness Pope Francis of Rome and His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece—the tragic circumstances of refugees and immigrants, and especially the acute problems of the suffering children, innocents and defenseless victims of military violence, as well as the racial and religious discrimination and injustice, all of which are constantly increasing.

The feast of God’s Word, who became an infant—the child Jesus, whose disappearance is pursued by worldly authority, according to the Evangelist Matthew (Matt 2.13)—is a reminder and invitation for us to care for children, to protect these vulnerable victims and to respect the sacredness of childhood.

Of course, children and sensitive souls are also threatened in economically developed and politically stable countries of the world, whether by the immense crisis of marriage and family, or by diverse interventions as well as the use of physical or spiritual force. A child’s soul is altered by the influential consumption of electronic media, especially television and the internet, and by the radical transformation of communication. Unbridled economics transfigures them from a young age into consumers, while the pursuit of pleasure rapidly vanishes their innocence.

In light of these dangers, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church addressed children and young people “with particular love and affection” (Prov. 8) by including the following in its Encyclical:
Amid the medley of mutually contradictory definitions of childhood, our most holy Church presents the words of our Lord: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18.3) and “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it (Luke 18.17), as well as what our Savior says about those who “prevent” (Luke 18.16) children from approaching Him and about those who “scandalize” them (Matt 18.6).

The mystery of Christmas is crystallized in the words of the festive Kontakion: “For us, a new child was born, God before all ages.” The divine Word as child and the child as God is revealed to the world with “the pure heart” and simplicity of a child. Children comprehend truths, which “wise and prudent” people are unable to approach. As Elytis observes in his poem From one’s neighbor: “You can build Jerusalem out of children alone!”

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
We appeal to all of you to respect the identity and sacredness of childhood. In light of the global refugee crisis that especially affects the rights of children; in light of the plague of child mortality, hunger and child labor, child abuse and psychological violence, as well as the dangers of altering children’s souls through their uncontrolled exposure to the influence of contemporary electronic means of communication and their subjection to consumerism, we declare 2017 as the Year of Protection of the Sacredness of Childhood, inviting everyone to recognize and respect the rights and integrity of children.

As underlined in another significant document of the Holy and Great Council, the Church of Christ does not look to “judging and condemning the world” with its word (John 3.17; 12.47), “but rather to offer to the world the guidance of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, namely, the hope and assurance that evil, no matter its form, does not have the last word in history and must not be allowed to dictate its course.”[6]

Therefore, we venerate our Savior with humility and compunction, for He has visited us from on high; we praise with divine song the immensity of the sacred Incarnation; we kneel down before the All-Holy Theotokos, who holds the child Jesus; and we address from the sleepless Phanar the festive greeting to all children of the Church of Constantinople, both near and afar: “Christ is born; glorify Him. Christ has come from heaven; come out to meet Him,” together with our paternal wishes and patriarchal prayer.
“Be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 2.1) Let us all strive together with faith and sincere love in the good struggle of new life in the Church, adhering to all that the Lord has commanded. For He is with us “all the days of our life, to the end of the ages.” (Matt 28.20)
Christmas 2016
X BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople
Fervent supplicant of all before God
[1] Gregory the Theologian, Moral Poems 34.
[2] John Chrysostom, Homily before Exile PG 52.429.
[3] Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John 6.
[4] Christmas Matins.
[5] Gregory the Theologian, Homily 38 on Epiphany, namely the Nativity of the Savior.
[6] The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World, introduction.