On Sunday, December 30, the 31st Sunday after Pentecost and that of the Holy Forefathers, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. Concelebrating with His Grace were the cathedral clergy: senior priest Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Archpriest Edward Chervinsky, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff, and Deacon Pavel Roudenko. The choir sang the service under the direction of conductor Peter Fekula.
The great feast of Christ’s Nativity approaches, and in the final days of the Nativity Fast, many try to confess their sins and commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas greeted the faithful with the Sunday feast of the Resurrectional, wished that they might spend the remaining days of the Nativity Fast profitably for their souls, and spoke about the particularities of the divine services in the final days of the fast.
In his sermon, His Grace said, in part:
"Today the Church commemorates all of the people from Adam to St. Joseph the Betrothed and the Most Pure Virgin Mary – all those who lived before the coming of the Savior. They lived with faith and hope that the Messiah would come, in order to save them from sins, misfortunes, and sorrows.
"Let us recall that Moses himself did not enter the Promised Land – he who was a great prophet, who received the commandments from the Lord on Mount Sinai. What faith Moses had, what obedience! And yet he himself did not enter into the Promised Land. But he led the Israelites along the correct path. This is a great example for us. Let us recall Abraham, who prayed to God with faith, received a son, and was ready to slaughter this only son for God. Abraham, too, had great faith and obedience.
"For us, these Holy Fathers are an example of how we must believe. Christ came into the world, we celebrate His Resurrection from the dead, and yet we still do not have firm faith. We often pray before the Kursk Root Icon. Let us look at how these great prophets are depicted on this icon, arrayed around the Mother of God: Moses, Samson, Gideon, and King David. They all spoke about how the Savior of the world would be bore of a Most Pure Virgin. Let us pray and not doubt that Christ came into the world for the sake of our salvation.
"Today’s Gospel reading from Luke tells of us a certain lord who summoned invitees to a wedding banquet. But these people began to refuse the invitation: each one had his own business to attend to. The lord was angered, and told his servant to call all of the other people to this banquet. The others came, and rejoiced, that they were able to celebrate alongside this lord, who, let us understand, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He calls all of us to the wedding feast in His Church. The Church is the Heavenly Kingdom on earth. Here are all of the Sacraments, here there is salvation, here is Christ Himself. Coming to church, even outside of the divine services, we feel calm, comfort, and the grace of the Holy Spirit. And let us always hearken unto this invitation to join the Lord at the feast."
Bishop Nicholas called upon those gathered to cling to true teaching in the life of the Church, noting that our brethren in Syria, Ukraine, and Serbia are enduring difficult times: truth is being distorted, and falsehood preached: "In our prayers and Christian example here abroad, we must support truth, support the Orthodox hierarchs and our brothers and sisters who defend the true Orthodox Church, and believe that the Lord will not abandon us all."
After the service, the cathedral sisterhood organized a lenten luncheon for the clergy and parishioners.
New York City: On Sunday of Holy Forefathers, Bishop Nicholas celebrates Liturgy in Synodal Cathedral - 12/30/18