The fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy!

6 Jan

Dear Friends,

If I had to choose one word to characterize the winter feasts we celebrate as Orthodox Christians, it would be: Joy!

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Church School children & Fr. John spreading joy through the presentation of the traditional Christmas play, or “Yolka.”

On Christmas Day, we sing:
“Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has proclaimed joy to the whole Universe.”

On the days following Christmas, as we remember Christ’s mother, Mary, and his ancestral lineage, we sing:
“Come, let us greatly rejoice in the Lord, as we sing of this present mystery: the wall that divided God from man has been destroyed.”

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Icon of the Feast of Theophany

And on the Eve of Theophany, as we recall Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, we sing:
“River Jordan, cease flowing and receive with joy the Master coming to be baptized.
Adam, rejoice with our First Mother and do not hide yourself as you did of old in Paradise;
for having seen you naked, He has appeared to clothe you with the first garment. Christ has appeared to renew all creation.”

Our joy lies in the fact that the Son of God came to earth in the form of a human baby, and He took on fully our human condition—in all of its messiness and degradation.

View a video of Fr. John reading the prayer of the blessing of the water on the Feast of Theophany

Our joy lies in the fact that Jesus Christ came not to condemn us, but to renew us, and all of creation, with His Holy Spirit.

Our joy lies in the fact that Jesus Christ came not just to teach us to be holy by example; but rather, through His birth, baptism, death, resurrection, and the gift of His Holy Spirit, He gave us the means to be holy.

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Chris Savisky (St. Nicholas) spreading joy at Coffee Hour, with Jerry Kopko!

Sadly, we Christians have often earned a reputation for legalism, moralism, and quite frankly, pessimism. Those outside of the Church cannot recognize the fruit of the Spirit within us: “love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians, 5:22–23).

During this wonderful season, let us put away all of our negative “isms,” and ask Christ to fill us with His joy!

With love in Christ, Fr. John

NOTE: If you would like to be a joyful witness to your family and friends of the good news of Christ’s renewal of all creation, ask Fr. John to schedule a time to bless your home with the holy water sanctified at the Theophany service. Contact him via phone: (203) 572–0026 (rectory) or email: jjillions@gmail.com.

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