My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON DECEMBER 27TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST OF THE HOLY PROTOMARTYR STEFANOS (STEPHEN) THE ARCHDEACON
He was a kinsman of the holy Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in a Hellenic milieu. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy Apostles ordained for the service of the poor in Jerusalem. This is why he is called the Archdeacon--the first, or chief, of them. By the power of his faith, Stefanos worked many miracles (wonders) among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him but were always confounded by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, adept at calumny and slander, stirred up the people and leaders against this innocent young man. They slandered Stefanos (Stephen), saying that he had blasphemed against God and against Moses, and quickly found false witnesses who supported their assertion. Then Stefanos stood before people, and all saw his face "like the face of an angel": that is, his face was illumined by the Light of grace as was the face of Moses when he talked with God. Saint Stefanos opened his mouth and spoke of God's manifold works and marvels, performed in the past for the People of Israel, and of the people's manifold transgressions and opposition to God. He especially denounced them for the slaying of Christ the Lord, calling them "betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:52). While they ground their teeth, Saint Stefanos looked and saw the heavens open and the glory of God, and spoke to the Jews of what he saw: "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God" (7:56). Then the malicious men took him out of the city and stoned him to death. Among his murderers was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul. At that time, the Most Holy Mother of God was standing on a rock at a distance with Saint John the Theologian, and witnessed the martyrdom of this First Martyr for the Truth of her Son and God, and she prayed for Stefanos. This happened exactly a year after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Apostles. Saint Stephen's body was taken secretly and buried by Gamaliel in his own ground. He was a Jewish Prince and a secret Christian. Thus this first of Christ's Martyr made a glorious end and entered the Kingdom of Christ Our God. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
ON WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 27TH
Orthros (Matins) 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God