In this email
Message from Fr Alexander — Our ancestors
The Angel from Antioch: Metropolitan Pavlos of Aleppo
Stay connected to the Church — Calendars
What it Means to Be a Man (or Woman) — Be the Bee
Live stream information
News of Future Services
Saints and Feasts — 16th–24th December
Offer of help
Some people can list their ancestors—parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.—back for many generations with elaborate family trees, others can only remember a few generations back. Wanting to know about our past, where we come from, seems to be built into human beings: it marks our identity.
On the Sunday before Christmas, we hear about who Christ is—we hear his ancestors. The Gospel reading starts,
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, …
— Matthew 1:1–2
We see here the centrality of Abraham—whose name, given to him by God, means father of a multitude—in the plan of God for our salvation: we can read about him in Genesis, starting from the end of Chapter 11.
When the nations of the Earth—our own ancestors!—with the collusion of the angelic beings God had set to rule over them, gave up worshipping the Most High for the sake of worshipping these angelic beings, it was Abram of Ur whom the Lord found who would remain faithful to him. This was not one of the nations whom the Lord would bless but a new nation, a new people, over which the Most High would rule. It is in Christ that all the promises to Abraham are fulfilled and it is for this reason that Christ is shown as the descendant of Abraham.
But there is more. In our baptism we have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27) and so, by God’s grace, this is our genealogy too: we, too, have become heirs of the promise.
My dear brothers and sisters, our life as Christians is one of sojourners—travellers—through this life: but we have received a great inheritance. We have chosen, with the help of God, to give up worshipping mere angelic beings and we offer worship only to the Most High God who incorporated us into the Church.
Our purpose, here in Eastleigh, is to manifest this great gift we have received, to enable the many people of our region to set aside worshipping created beings—often known today as abstract money, power, beauty, football, pleasure, drunkenness, shopping, but no less dangerous than Baal, El, Zeus, Aphrodite, Mercury, Neptune, Odin or Thor—and worship only the Most High God, as revealed to us in Christ, Father together with his Only-begotten Son and Holy Spirit. Let us work for this goal here, in our country and in the whole world.
The Angel from Antioch: Metropolitan Pavlos of Aleppo
Sayidna Paul visited Britain nearly twenty years ago and made pastoral visits to many parishes of our Archdiocese. He made a huge impact on me personally and I took him up an invitation to visit him in Aleppo in 2008. He had made such a huge impact on the Church there: a place many in Britain had not heard of until the devastation brought to Syria by so many foreign fighters entering the country to join the war.
On 22nd April 2013, Sayidna Paul was taken by one of these groups of foreign fighters: there has been little solid evidence of what happened and for seven and a half years, although together spiritually, the Orthodox Christians of Aleppo have been separated from their father and chief shepherd physically.
A monk from the Holy Mountain, Archimandrite Kyrillos, has written of his own relationship with The Angel from Antioch.
The history of the human race testifies to the presence of billions of people on the earth who have left no trace or mark behind them, but were simply passing through this life.
Metropolitan Pavlos wasn’t content to be a mere passer-by or one more lost voice in the hustle and bustle of the city. His voice reached us as a cooling breeze, sweetening and gladdening our souls, calming the city and halting its tumult, as the Holy Spirit spoke within him and through him, in such a way that all the generations of Antioch will remember him every time the Word of God is preached.
The venerable father of all of us and our Metropolitan, Pavlos Yazigi, a man of God and His servant, is one of the most important angels of the Church of Antioch and one of the most important of the modern era, the Angel of Aleppo.
I love talking about my beloved father in God, Metropolitan Pavlos Yazigi, a pure man with a humble heart. By the word ‘father’, I mean that I was reborn in Christ because of him. He brought me out of the old world into the new, even though I don’t feel I’m worthy to be his spiritual child, because of the enormous spiritual gulf that separates us and since I believe that our Metropolitan is a peak that is difficult for anyone else to reach.
Stay connected to the Church
Our Archdiocese publishes an annual calendar for you to put up on your wall. It can be part of keeping you in contact with the Church every day of the week. I now have copies in stock for 2021 and they would make an excellent addition to your home and a beautiful gift for a friend.
This year’s features pictures from our monastery in Shropshire. There are the saints and the Bible readings for each day of the year as well as a guide to fasting.
Contact me for details, firstname.lastname@example.org: £6 per copy.
What it Means to Be a Man (or Woman)
I found this video to be of great help and encourage you to watch it again.
Worries are increasing on the possible increase in the spread of the disease. Yet there is a division: one side is accused of scare-mongering while the other of irresponsibility. The situation is becoming fractious and each side’s position is becoming more entrenched.
Our duty as Christians is to stand for truth and to bring about unity. But to stand for truth does not mean to ridicule nor deride those who are wrong, it is to act patiently, humbly, lovingly: in other words to be Christ-like. We do not shy away from the truth nor do we separate ourselves from others.
The Church has a clear position as given by our bishops: we are to obey the civil authorities on these matters. We follow the law while maintaining our Faith and thus provide a witness—a martyrdom—of the Gospel. And then, by trusting in the power of God and not our own, we may become an icon of unity and concord.
Would you like help? Advice? Support? Then let me know.
The Monastery of Saints Antony and Cuthbert, Shropshire, is live-streaming its services for all who are unable to go to their own churches. These are over YouTube and can be accessed here:
Usually Vespers on Saturday evenings at 5 pm and Matins and Liturgy on Sunday mornings from 7.30 am.
News of Future Services
We want to start to hold services together: things are difficult now but they remind us that we can do nothing by our own power. Only when we place our hope in the Lord—and not in our own skills, talents, ideas, imaginations—will we be able to build a house for the Lord.
Our Facebook Page, facebook.com/orthodoxeastleigh, too, has daily additions during the week as well as on feast days. Please do like and share our page and content so we may reach a wider group of people.
Do you receive the weekly (on Fridays) text message? If not, then let me know.
Saints and Feasts
Wednesday 16th December — Prophet Haggai (Aggaeus) (520 BC).
Thursday 17th — Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Children: Ananias, Azarias and Misael (600 BC).
Friday 18th — Martyr Sebastian at Rom and his companions (c 287).
Saturday 19th — Saturday before the Nativity of Christ. Martyr Boniface at Tarsus in Cilicia (c 303).
Sunday 20th — 28th after Pentecost. Sunday before the Nativity of Christ, on which we commemorate all the Righteous who pleased God, from Adam down to Joseph the Betrothed of the Mother of God. Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ. Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-bearer, Bishop of Antioch (107).
Monday 21st — Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ. St Themistocles the Shepherd, Martyr in Myra (250). Virgin-Martyr Juliana of Nicomedia (304).
Tuesday 22nd — Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ. Great-Martyr Anastasia, “Deliverer from Bonds,” her teacher, Martyr Chrysogonos, and Martyr Theodoti (304).
Wednesday 23rd — Forfeast of the Nativity of Christ. Ten Martyrs of Crete (3rd). Dedication of the Church of the Holy Wisdom, Constantinople.
Thursday 24th — Eve of the Nativity of Christ. Virgin-Martyr Eugenia of Rome, and with her the Martyrs Philip, her father, Protus, Hyacinth, Basilla, and Claudia (c 262).
Can I help you?
I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.
Can you help the mission?
Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.
I ask your prayers for me.
With love in Christ