Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

I hope that everyone's Christmas was joyful and peaceful! Granted, this can often be a difficult and stressful time of the year, but my prayer is that everyone managed to see past the expectations and difficulties and remember the Nativity for the enormous gift that it is.

As you know, the Nativity has a bookend holy day, that of Theophany on January 6. Together with the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1, all three days are compelling reminders of the humility of our Lord, setting aside all of his prerogatives and power to be born as a babe, and later to accept baptism at the hands of the Forerunner, St. John the Baptist. It is by this kenosis, this extreme humility, that each of us is offered admittance into the Kingdom of God. These are days that are paradoxical in part, but understood in their essence, they bring us to humility as well.

1., The coming week: This weekend we will serve Great Vespers Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m., and Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Holy Righteous Ones: Joseph the Betrothed, David the King, and James the brother of the Lord.

The week after that is a little up in the air. The following Sunday is the Feast of the Theophany, and the rubrics are....well, interesting. But I will have a schedule on Sunday morning.

2. Please keep Sophia Brown and her family in your prayers. Her mother fell asleep in the Lord last Sunday, December 23. Pray for her, as well as Sophia, her father, and the rest of the family. Sophia's mother and father were married for over 70 years, which makes this even more difficult.

3. Most of you know that we been experimenting with streaming services, and posting those and a homily or two on line. Response has been good, and the number of viewers has been higher than I expected, although not at Joel Osteen levels. We will need to make a decision at some point about whether we do what is necessary to make this a permanent feature of our parish. Be thinking about that, and let me or the parish council members know your thoughts.

4. Our next class, a study of the book "Orthodox Spirituality", by Metropolitan Hierotheos, will begin on Saturday, January 12 at 4 pm. It will continue for six consecutive weeks, which will take us almost to the beginning of Great Lent. In that regard, if you have a suggestion for a book for our bLenten reading, let me know.

5. If you aren't familiar with today's saint, St. Simon of Mount Athos, you should look him up. He is one of my favorite saints, and you won't have to twist my arm much to get me to tell you about my visit to the cave where he lived. Just saying...

I hope to see everyone this weekend!

In Christ,

Fr. James