Annunciation

Readings: 

Hebrews 2:11-18
Luke 1:24-38

Other: 
Annunciation
Verse: 
Hebrews 2:11-18
 

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanityso that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Luke 1:24-38
 

After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

 Today is one of the most wonderful feasts in the Orthodox church:  The Feast of the Annunciation when the angel came to the Virgin Mary and told her she was going to conceive of the Holy Spirit the Savior of all Mankind (all humanity).  Rightly startled, she asked how it was going to happen and it was explained.
One of the most wonderful things about this event is that the Virgin had a right to say “no”.  God does not force us to do things we don’t want to do, yet He has hope in us.

Daily Reading, Apologie, And Determinations

First of all, here are the readings for today:

March 23, 2017

Readings:

Isaiah 28:14-22
Genesis 10:32-11:9
Proverbs 13:19-14:6

Verse:
Orthros: Isaiah 28:14-22

Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers
who rule this people in Jerusalem.
You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death,
with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement.
When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
it cannot touch us,
for we have made a lie our refuge
and falsehood our hiding place.”

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic.
I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line;
hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
and water will overflow your hiding place.
Your covenant with death will be annulled;
your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand.
When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
you will be beaten down by it.
As often as it comes it will carry you away;
morning after morning, by day and by night,
it will sweep through.”

The understanding of this message
will bring sheer terror.
The bed is too short to stretch out on,
the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.
The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim,
he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon—
to do his work, his strange work,
and perform his task, his alien task.
Now stop your mocking,
or your chains will become heavier;
the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me
of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

Vespers OT1: Genesis 10:32-11:9

These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Vespers OT2: Proverbs 13:19-14:6

A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.

Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Trouble pursues the sinner,
but the righteous are rewarded with good things.

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

An unplowed field produces food for the poor,
but injustice sweeps it away.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly,
but those who despise him are devious in their ways.

A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
but the lips of the wise protect them.

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.

An honest witness does not deceive,
but a false witness pours out lies.

The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

 And here is where I apologize:  The flu knocked me down for most of February and just when I’m beginning to feel OK there, I ended up with some sort of viral sinus/ear infection thing that has laid me low for the last two weeks.  Just this past Friday, my arthritis flared up and…well, it was bad.  It was so bad all I could do was hang on, take what meds I could, and ride it out.  Friday was a very exhausting day.
Since Friday, my ear – I can hear out of one well and the other not-so-much – has popped and cracked, ached and hurt so much I have, again been super exhausted.  Hopefully the remainder of this week will be better.

Readings For Today, March 12

Readings:

Hebrews 1:10-2:3
Mark 2:1-12

Verse:
Hebrews 1:10-2:3

He also says,

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.”

To which of the angels did God ever say,

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

Mark 2:1-12

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Today’s Scripture Reading And A Little Note

Today’s Scripture readings are:

Isaiah 4:2-5:7
Genesis 3:21-4:7
Proverbs 3:34-4:22

It hit me last night as I was falling asleep, as things will sometimes do, that I hadn’t explained why the readings are mostly from the Old Testament for a good portion of Lent.  The reason is actually quite simple:  Because the readings show how the knowledge of Christ’s coming was foretold in the Tanakh, which is the collection of the Hebrew writings used prior to Christ’s ascension and the collection of the writings we now call the New Testament of the Church.

Just A Mere Bout In Arthritis

There was no posting of daily readings yesterday because my arthritis is seriously acting up on me due to the change in weather:  It was warm, now it’s cold and has even spit some snow today.  Thankfully I am in a warm house with lovely covers for my legs and a handwarmer I often use to help keep my feet warm.  So, here is yesterday’s daily Bible readings as well as today’s.  Thank you, everyone, for understanding.

Isaiah 2:11-21
Genesis 2:4-19
Proverbs 3:1-18
Matthew 7:7-11

Today’s readings:

Isaiah 3:1-14
Genesis 2:20-3:20
Proverbs 3:19-34
John 15:1-7

Daily Readings And Prayer

Isaiah 1:19-2:3
Genesis 1:14-23
Proverbs 1:20-33
Matthew 6:1-13

Last night before going to sleep, along with my normal prayers I prayed with my prayer rope.  I first said The Angelic Salutation or the “Hail Mary”, which is a little for Orthodox Christians, and then the “Jesus Prayer.”  A sense of calm came over me last night as I prayed and today I looked up a “General Rule of Prayer” and am going to try and follow this throughout Lent.  All can use help during prayer and prayer.  Even Christ was asked to teach us to pray and His prayer is very simple and direct.  Even when we don’t have good earthly fathers or dads, we have the consummate father in God.

Lent 2017 Begins

LENT:

noun
1.(in the Christian religion) an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches. 
In the Eastern Orthodox religion, we observe the Lenten season, which is the time before Great Pascha or Easter.  Leading up to Lent are special Sundays and we know we’re getting close when we reach the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, because the next Sunday is going to be Meatfare Sunday.
Meatfare Sunday is the Sunday the faithful give up meat, unless, like me, you have health reasons not to or are pregnant or nursing.  Usually, at church, there is a big meal where the families get together after service and bring what meat is in the refrigerator and there is a quite a substantial breakfast.
Lent is a way of helping us get prepared for Great Pascha, Easter to the Western churches.  Let me give you to the knowledge of our Church from Antiochian.org:

FASTING AND GREAT LENT

THE TRIODION

Great Lent is the 40-day season of spiritual preparation that comes before the most important Feast of the Christian year, Holy Pascha (which means “Passover” and is commonly called “Easter”,). It is the central part of a larger time of preparation called the Triodion season.

The Triodion begins ten weeks before Easter and is divided into three main parts: three Pre-Lenten weeks of preparing our hearts, the six weeks of Lent, and Holy Week. The main theme of the Triodion is repentance—mankind’s return to God, our loving Father.

This annual season of repentance is a spiritual journey with our Savior. Our goal is to meet the risen Lord Jesus, Who reunites us with God the Father. The Father is always waiting to greet us with outstretched hands. We must ask ourselves the question, “Are we willing to turn to Him?”

During Great Lent, the Church teaches us how to re­ceive Him by using the two great means of repentance— prayer and fasting.

THE LENTEN FAST

The word “fast” means not eating all or certain foods. As Orthodox Faithful, we can fast completely at certain times of great importance, and especially each time before receiv­ing Holy Communion. Usually, fasting means limiting the number of meals and/or the type of food eaten.

The purpose of fasting is to remind us of the Scriptural teaching, “Man does not live by bread alone.” The needs of the body are nothing compared to the needs of the soul. Above all else, we need God, Who provides everything for both the body and the soul. Fasting teaches us to depend on God more fully.

The first sin of our parents, Adam and Eve, was eating from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:1-19). We fast from food, or a food item, as a reminder that we are to fast from sin­ning and doing evil.

There are several benefits of fasting. Fasting helps us pray more easily. Our spirit is lighter when we are not weighed down by too much food or food that is too rich. Through fasting, we also learn to feel compassion for the poor and hungry and to save our own resources so that we can help those in need.

Fasting is more than not eating food. Saint John Chrysostom teaches that it is more important to fast from sin. For example, besides controlling what goes into our mouths, we must control what comes out of our mouths as well. Are our words pleasing to God, or do we curse God or our brother?

The other members of the body also need to fast: our eyes from seeing evil, our ears from hearing evil, our limbs from participating in anything that is not of God. Most important of all, we need to control our thoughts, for thoughts are the source of our actions, whether good or evil.

Fasting is not an end in itself. Our goal is an inner change of heart. The Lenten Fast is called “ascetic.” This refers to a ctions of self-denial and spiritual training which are central to fasting.

Fasting is a spiritual exercise. It is not imposed or forced upon us. In the same way that true repentance cannot be forced upon anyone, each of us makes the choice to turn away from our sinful ways and go toward our loving, for giving Father in Heaven.

THE PRELENTEN WEEKS

Before Great Lent begins, four Sunday lessons prepare us for the Fast. Humility is the theme of the first Sunday, called the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. The Lord’s parable in Luke 18:10-14 teaches that fasting with pride is rejected by God. For this reason, there is no fasting the week following this Sunday. This includes no fasting on Wednesday

and Friday that week. (Wednesdays and Fridays are usually fast days throughout the year—Wednesday’s Fast recalls the betrayal of Christ by Judas; Friday’s Fast commemorates the Lord’s Crucifixion.)

Repentance is the theme of the second Pre-Lenten Sunday, called the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Before we can return to God, we need to recognize that we are far from God because of sin. Like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), we are in a self-imposed exile. Will we come to our senses as did the Prodigal Son and return to our Father?

The next Sunday is called both Meatfare Sunday and the Sunday of the Last Judgment. The second name refers to the Gospel lesson (Matthew 25:31-4 6) read on this day. The Lord tells us we will be judged at the end according to the love we have shown for our brother. “I was hungry..thirsty..naked…a stranger…in prison…sick… What­ever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine you did for Me.” Almsgiving goes hand in hand with fast­ing. This Sunday is called Meatfare because it is the last day meat, fish or poultry is eaten before Easter, for those keep­ing the Lenten Fast.

The last Pre-Lenten Sunday is called both Cheesefare Sunday and the Sunday of Forgiveness. This is the last day dairy products are eaten before the Fast. The Gospel lesson (Matthew 6:14-21 ) read on this day tells us that our fast must not be hypocritical or “for show.” Our work and our appearance are to continue as usual and our extra efforts are to be known only by God. The Gospel reading also reminds us that God the Father will forgive us in the same manner as we forgive our brother. With this promise of forgiveness, Great Lent begins on the next day, which is called Clean Monday. Clean Monday is a total fast day, except for a little water. No other beverages or food are taken.

GENERAL RULES OF THE LENTEN FAST

The Lenten Fast rules that we observe today were established within the monasteries of the Orthodox Church during the sixth through eleventh centuries. These rules are intended for all Orthodox Christians, not just monks and nuns.

The first week of Lent is especially strict. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, a total fast is kept. In practice, very few people are able to do this. Some find it necessary to eat a little each day after sunset. Many Faithful do fast com­pletely on Monday and then eat only uncooked food (bread, fruit, nuts) on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, the fast is kept until after the Presanctified Liturgy.

From the second through the sixth weeks of Lent, the general rules for fasting are practiced. Meat, animal prod­ucts (cheese, milk, butter, eggs, lard), fish (meaning fish with backbones), olive oil and wine (all alcoholic drinks) are not consumed during the weekdays of Great Lent. Octopus and shell-fish are allowed, as is vegetable oil. On weekends, ol­ive oil and wine are permitted.

According to what was done in the monasteries, one meal a day is eaten on weekdays and two meals on weekends of

Great Lent. No restriction is placed on the amount of food during the meal, though moderation is always encouraged in all areas of one’s life at all times.

Fish, oil and wine are allowed on the Feast of the An­nunciation (March 25) and on Palm Sunday (one week before Easter). On other feast days, such as the First and Second Finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist (February 24) , the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (March 9), the Forefeast of the Annunciation (March 24) and the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel (March 26), wine and oil are permitted.

Since I cannot follow all of the Lenten fasting rules, I am doing something different this year:  I am going to post here to this blog and share my faith with you on a daily basis, which will be a wonderful discipline for me because I haven’t been keeping up with this blog as I should and intended.
One of the things I will be sharing is the daily scripture readings we have.
The scripture readings for today are:

Isaiah 1:1-20
Genesis 1:1-13
Proverbs 1:1-20
Luke 21:8-36

Making It Through

Later, in 2016, early 2017, I tried to explain my feelings about Christmas and failed miserably.  However, something good came out of the uncertainty.  

When Christmas drew closer, it felt empty and foreign to me.  Christmas has never felt like this.  Since this hadn’t happened before, I set to the very serious task of determining was going on with me and my favorite holiday of the year.  

It would’ve been quite easy at such a time to blame my religion and say, ‘ y religion failed me.’  I could easily have said something was missing from my religion, faith, etc.  Had my religion and faith failed me?  Was Christmas really just a commercial event after all?  

Just because I didn’t feel Christmasy didn’t mean I stopped believing in God and His promises.  I didn’t stop reading the Bible or praying, so I was t having a crisis in faith.  Was it really so important I get into the social and commercial aspect of the time?  

December 23rd I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make it to any of the Christmas services because of my health.  Knowing this hurt almost like a physical pain.  However, I wasn’t sad.   Why?  Why wasnt I sad?  

The answer was surprisingly simple:  I had, and still have, Hope in Christ.  

Christmas is one of those times when Hope rises to the surface and society, people, let it remain there until the turning of the new year.  

I wasn’t sad because Christ is my hope.  Regardless of how I felt about the majority of the traditional celebrations this year, I still celebrated the descent of God Incarnate to humankind.  I celebrated the hope in Christ of the Beginning and of His return.  I hadn’t stopped enjoying the holiday at all. It had an expanded joy.  

So, I opened presents and gave what few gifts I had to others while my Soul trilled with a deeper understanding.

How great is God!  How boundless!

I Hate To Say This, But, Just Not Feeling It….

I am really sorry I have been neglecting this blog, and I am through letting every excuse stand.  The following is a cross-post from my regular blog, but felt it was important here for sharing my feelings and thoughts.  Hopefully this is the kick-start I need here and elsewhere, for getting myself rolling again – pun intended.


I am just going to have to admit it and get it over with.  *sigh*  I am just not feeling Christmas this year.

I’ve done everything I can think of to “get into the spirit” of Christmas, but it simply isn’t happening.  This year I went to people’s wish lists and Christmas lists on Amazon and picked from there the gifts I purchased.  I haven’t gone out to one single store this year nor even tried to get “that perfect gift”, not even for The Husband.

Normally I would have Christmas music filling the house and as soon as someone came in the house I’d be offering them hot chocolate and Christmas cookies of some sort.  I haven’t even asked for Christmas cookies this year from the grocery and I have only drunk one cup of hot chocolate so far.

There is a part of me reasoning out why the Christmas spirit isn’t present.  The reasoning is as follows:

  1. I haven’t been able to get out independently for a while now, so I’ve just gotten used to staying in the house and not going out, so therefore not seeing any Christmas decorations in the stores or anything.
  2. A lot has happened to me over the recent weeks and I am still recovering in part.
  3. Energy levels are fluctuating radically for me due to arthritis flares and migraines (thankfully the migraines are less than the arthritis flares – it is just the time of year for arthritis flares).
  4. No one around me is in the Christmas spirit or mood.

However, the inability to get out independently has been taken care of because Sniffles and Cheyenne have had a porch put on the front of the house and a ramp!  I’ve used the ramp.  I can get out.  Why don’t I?  Why haven’t I been getting out the moment I was able to do so?  There isn’t a desire to get outside and go places.  And, yes, a lot has happened with me over the past few weeks, even months, but When has something not happened to me?  I am an arthritic.  I have been an arthritic my entire life, why on earth would it begin getting to me now?  Plus, it has never bothered me people aren’t in a Christmas spirit before.  I worked hard to help them get into the Christmas spirit, and I usually always succeed.  This year I haven’t even tried, or attempted to get anyone in the Christmas mood, including ME.

Besides, it isn’t anyone else’s job to get me into the Christmas spirit of things.  As I’ve written here nearly every year, Christmas is usually a time of hope and new beginnings for me.  This year there isn’t any of this for me.  I actually feel empty.  I wish I knew what would fill the emptiness because I’d work on getting it all filled up.

One thing I know I am going to begin doing:  I am going to Church.  I am going to schedule a ride on WHEELS and I am going to Church.  I haven’t been in so long.  I am also going to get another Bible and another copy of The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian.  After Christmas, of course, because I’ve asked repeatedly for a Bible.

I actually need to have a physical copy of the Holy Bible.  I have continued reading it on my Nook, tablet, and now my husband’s tablet (more about the use of The Husband’s tablet later).  Even though I know I brought Saint Isaac with me when we moved into here, I can’t find the book!  Everyone in the house has been helping me look for it and no one can find it!  It has vanished and I feel like I’ve lost a very important mentor in my life and faith.

I am pretty sure this phase will pass.  I am hoping it will all be gone by the time Old Christmas rolls around.  *sigh*

The Prayer of St. Ephraim

O Lord and Master of my life, remove from me the spirit of laziness despondency, thirst for power and vain talk.  (Prostration)

Instead, grant me, your servant, the spirit of purity, humility, patience and love.(Prostration)

Indeed, O Lord and King grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brother, for you are blessed unto ages of ages.  Amen.  (Prostration)

Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.  (bow)  Lord, cleanse me, a sinner.  (bow)  You who have created me, save me.  (bow)

These last four petitions are done three times, making a total of twelve bows.  The the first part of the prayer is repeated.

O Lord and Master of my life, remove from me the spirit of laziness, despondency, thirst for power and vain talk.  Instead, grant me, your servant the spirit of purity, humility, patience and love.  Indeed, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brother, for you are blessed unto ages of ages.  Amen.  (prostration)

The Prayer of St. Ephraim is used throughout Lent and is one of my favorite prayers and supplications.  It can, of course, be said at any time.