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.
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST OF THE SYNAXIS OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST ON JANUARY 7TH.
Saint John's greatest role during his life was enacted on the day of Theophany, and because of this the Church has, from the earliest times, dedicated the day following that feast to his memory. This day is also connected with an event involving the hand of the Forerunner. The Evangelist Luke desired to take Saint John's body from Sevaste, where the Great Prophet had been beheaded by Herod, to Antioch, his own birthplace. He succeeded, though, in acquiring and taking only one hand, which was kept in Antioch till the 10th century. It was then moved to Constantinople, whence it disappeared during the Turkish enslavement.
Saint John is commemorated several times during the year, but his greatest feast is on this day, January 7th. Among the Gospel-figures surrounding the Savior, the person of Saint John the Baptist holds a very special place, by the manner of his birth in this world and of his earthly life, by his role of baptizer of men to repentance and his baptism of the Messiah, and, lastly, by the tragic manner of his departure from this world. He was of such moral purity that he indeed deserved the name 'angel', as he was named in the Holy Scripture, rather than being thought of as just a mortal man. Saint John differs from all the other Prophets in that he had the joy of showing forth to the world the One Whom he had foretold.
About the hand of Saint John: it is related that each year, on his feast-day, the Archbishop would bring it out before the people. Sometimes the hand appeared open and sometimes clenched. In the first case it indicated that it would be a fertile year, and in the second that it would be a year of famine.
[The word "messenger" is, in Greek, 'anggelos'. See Malachi 3:1, St. Matthew 11:10 )
--on submission to the will of God.
"..Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (St. Mathew 6:10)
Blessed is John the Baptist, for he fulfilled the Gospel before the Gospel! Going out into the wilderness, he delivered himself over wholly to the will of God, in both body and spirit. And the will of God was done in his body on earth as also it was done in his spirit in heaven. Neither wild beasts harmed his body during his years in the wilderness, nor did despair harm his spirit in solitude nor pride in heavenly visions. He sought neither bread nor recognition from men. God gave him all that was needful, for he was completely given over to the will of God. He did not direct his own steps either into the wilderness or out of it. His life was steered by an invisible rudder, for when the time came for him to leave the wilderness and go to meet the Lord, it is written: "The word of the Lord came unto John" (St. Luke 3:2). Saint John spoke with the simplicity of an innocent child of his intercourse with heavenly powers: "And I knew Him not, but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me: 'Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He who baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.' And I saw, and bear record that this is the Son of God" (St. John 1:33-34). So tenderly and simply does he speak of heavenly things! And yet how terrifying he is, how like a lion, when he speaks against unrighteous men, against Herod and Herodias! The lamb and the lion live together within him. Heaven is a near to him as a mother is to her child, and the Will of God is as near and clear for him as to the Angels in heaven.
O Most Wise Lord, guide the lives of us sinners in the wilderness of this world to the doing of Thy Will, as Thou didst guide the life of Saint John the Baptist. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
DIVINE SERVICES FOR THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN:
Great Vespers at 7:00 p.m. this evening at Saint Nektarios Chapel
Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Divine Theophany,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God