Παρασκευή, 30 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

Remembering the 14,000 Holy Infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod in Bethlehem and… the many innocents killed by the herods of our days

 
Christ is Born, Glorify Him!

  In the festive atmosphere that embraced heaven and earth, just few days from the Nativity feast of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Church coats herself in much sorrow for the innocent babies slain by king Herod’s cruelty. Back than Jesus was saved from the wrath of Herod. Still today, He suffers the torment of death with each of the babies slain by modern tools of medicine, by the will of a society that had lost its balance and sense of life and raised to the rank of the law, the grivial sin of murdering babies.
  Truly the commandment of the Gospel “Thy shall not kill!” no longer holds true in a world that calls the good evil and the evil good.  

Life starts at conception


Most people do not know what happens during an abortion. Perhaps many women who committed abortion did not know that actually they killed a child. Why? Because they  are told that by the third month in the womb they bear only “a ball of cells” and not a true man.
  British Professor Stuart Campbell, a researcher at “Create Health Clinic” in London, managed to obtain, through a new type of ultrasound scan, three-dimensional images that allow viewing of fetal movements in real time. The study demonstrates for the first time that life begins with fertilization and not at birth. At the moment of conception, 46 chromosomes with 30,000 genes combine and determine all our physical characteristics: gender, facial and bodily features, eye color, hair and skin. Then, in just a few weeks, from one cell a tiny man is formed, having all the organs already present and able to work.
  What happens following the 3 months – in which some argue that the fetus is merely “a ball of cells”? 
The heart starts beating 18 days post conception, fetal blood passes through the umbilical cord, the placenta where the metabolic exchanges take place between the mother and the child: the child passes to the mother the remnants of carbon dioxide and the mother provides oxygen and nutrients. In about 3 weeks the hands start to  form and at 8 weeks, the fingers. The fetus can move the fingers and open his/her mouth.
At 40 days, the brain function is measured by EEG waves. This wonderful control center – the brain – sends messages to both mother and child.
At 2 months, the baby fingerprints are already imprinted in the skin.
At about 7 weeks, the first spontaneous movements are noticed, although the mother usually doesn’t feel the baby moving until about 16 weeks.
At 18 weeks, the fetus is active and energetic and makes numerous muscle flexes and can give sufficiently strong punches and kicks :)
At 26 weeks, the fetus can do a wide range of child specific gestures – to scratch, to smile, to hiccup and suck his/her fingers …

Hristos binecuvantand copiii 2 
“Let children come to me …”
(the choice is made by God not by the pregnant women)
by Fr. Alexander Stanciu

Before enjoying the light of this life, God had ordained that the child will dwell and develop for 9 months in the safest shelter of the world: his mother’s womb. Today, however, man has transformed this possible safest shelter in the most dangerous place for that, although the child can do nothing to defend himself, his life can be taken even by the dearest person, his MOTHER .
 The conceived fetus becomes a human being at the time of fecundation, when God created immortal soul of man. The sin of abortion is a form of murdering baby Christ, Who in a certain way, is born with every baby. From the moment of conception, the child bears the image of God, and through Baptism will carry the image of Christ within. If this image is destroyed, in the women womb Christ is been crucified once more. Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain goes so far as saying that a mother who commits abortion, does not kill one human being, but in  so much she is killing as many survivors as would have resulted if  her child had lived.

15-weeks.jpg 
Can abortion ever be recommended?

Lets follow these three examples:

1. The father is an alcoholic, the mother has tuberculosis. They have four children. The first one is blind. The second one died. The third child is deaf, and the fourth has tuberculosis. She becomes pregnant again. Given this extreme situation, would you take into account the recommendation of abortion?

2. A little black girl, aged 13, was raped by a white man, the little girl became pregnant. If you were her parents, would you recommend abortion?

3. A teenager girl is pregnant. She is not married. Her fiancé is not the father of the child. He is very upset and plans to leave her. In this case, would you consider abortion appropriate?

If you said “yes” to the 1st question: You have killed Beethoven.
If you said “yes” to the 2nd question: You have killed a great black singer of religious music, Ethel Wathers.
If you said “yes” to the 3rd question: You just decided to kill Jesus Christ.



“The Gestating Virgin Mother” - an icon by hagiographer Sophia Papazoglou, in the church of Saint Eleftherios on Acharnon Street in Athens, Greece  (from here)

 

You can see videos here (after the article)
 
See also

The Holy Innocents who slain by Herod at Bethlehem, the first martyrs for Christ!... (And what about the African Children?)  

When the Orthodox Church celebrates pregnancy...  
Orthodox Christians and Abortion
What does an abortion cost? A humanlife!  
The horror of abortion

A Romanian mom's miracle pregnancy
Shooting pregnant women as targets

Pan-Hellenic Society of Friends of Large Families (from here the icon - here)


ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ για το θέμα:
 
Τα άγια Νήπια και οι σύγχρονοι Ηρώδες  
Παρακλητικός Κανόνας στα Άγια Νήπια της Βηθλεέμ (29 Δεκεμβρίου)
Έκτρωση (ενότητα)

Πέμπτη, 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

The Holy Innocents who slain by Herod at Bethlehem, the first martyrs for Christ!... (And what about the African Children?)


Orthodox Church in America
Icons from here (there you can see the original sources of the images.)

 

14,000 Holy Infants were killed by King Herod in Bethlehem. When the time came for the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Birth of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They journeyed immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshipped the divine Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them, but being warned by God in a dream, they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realized that his scheme to find the Child would not be successful, and he ordered that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. He thought that the divine Infant, Whom he considered a rival, would be among the dead children.
The Church remembers this on December 29.

The murdered infants thus became the first martyrs for Christ. The rage of Herod fell also on Simeon the God-Receiver (February 3), who declared before everyone in the Temple that the Messiah had been born. When the holy Elder died, Herod would not give permission for him to be properly buried. On the orders of King Herod, the holy prophet and priest Zachariah was also killed. He was murdered in Jerusalem between the Temple and the altar (Mt. 23:35) because he would not tell the whereabouts of his son John, the future Baptist of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The wrath of God soon fell upon Herod himself: a horrid condition struck him down and he died, eaten by worms while still alive. Before his death, the impious king murdered the chief priests and scribes of the Jews, and also his brother, and his sister and her husband, and also his own wife Mariam, and three of his sons, and seventy men of wisdom who were members of the Sanhedrin. He initiated this bloodbath so that the day of his death would not be one of rejoicing, but one of mourning.

Troparion — Tone 1


As acceptable victims and freshly plucked flowers, / as divine first-fruits and newborn lambs, / you were offered to Christ who was born as a child, holy innocents. / You mocked Herod’s wickedness; / now we beseech you: / “Unceasingly pray for our souls.” 


Kontakion — Tone 6

When the King was born in Bethlehem, the Magi came from the east. / Having been guided by the star on high, they brought Him gifts. / But in his exceeding wrath, Herod mowed down the infants as wheat; / lamenting that the rule of his kingdom had come to an end.

The Slaughter of the Innocents by Herod and the Symbolism of the 14,000 Infants

By George P. Patronos

MYSTAGOGY

The feast in honor of the "14,000 slaughtered children" is for many non-believers a scandal, as the number of infants killed by Herod in his hunt for Jesus was much smaller. But these people not only ignore the deeper significance of Herod's massacre, but also the symbolic dimension of the number.

What does history tell us?

Under the strict conditions of scientific historical accuracy, the number of 14,000 slaughtered infants, according to tradition, creates, even for the atrocities committed by Herod, insurmountable problems. According to the information provided by our sources, especially the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, a contemporary of the Evangelists Luke and John, who is a very knowledgeable source of the era of the events described in the Gospels, the ancient town of Bethlehem and its surroundings should then have had a population of perhaps little more than a thousand inhabitants. The slaughter of male infants "from two years and under" would not, therefore, in fact be for more than 30 or 40 maximum, based on statistical data obtained from the population distribution in this region.


Such a figure would be much more likely according to historians, for Herod to venture in an albeit still tragic attempt to ensure his authority from an inside and local threat of a pretender to the throne. The slaughtering of some dozens of infants from rural families in a remote and neglected region, would be but "only a small and insignificant episode" in his life and works, as a modern researcher aptly observes; a fault in comparison with his other crimes which does not substantially burden the already long list of victims he is suspected of, and is not particularly differentiated from the otherwise degraded local situation that would cause the intervention of Rome in this specific issue.

With this being the case, it is a fact that nowhere in the sacred texts of the Gospels does it record a specific number of "slaughtered infants". The reference to the slaughter of "fourteen thousand" male children instead comes from the sacred tradition of the Church in the Synaxarion for the feast, and the note that these infants are among the Martyrs of the Church and are considered the first anonymous and "countless" martyrs of the Christian faith. It is this factor that gives the whole issue a parallel to history, and a particular "symbolic" parameter which requires a theological hermeneutic approach. 


 

The theological significance of the number of the "slaughtered infants"

As already pointed out, the Gospels do not take a stance on "chronology" or the simple "journalistic reporting" of historical events. Their aim is not simply to inform some readers, but they spiritually guide and theologically educate the faithful under the catechetical and pastoral role of the Church. In this light, the Massacre of the Innocents is of particular theological meaning for the sacred texts, and of particular interest to the interpretive approach and understanding of the semantics of the events in the Gospel narrative.

In the tradition of the Jewish people and the theology of the Old Testament there was a "historical" past persecution and even a "massacre". Specifically, the narrative in the Book of Exodus speaks of the foreign Pharaoh who belonged to another religion who had ordered the killing of male Israelites by drowning them in the Nile River, a real genocide which aimed to reduce the number of Jewish slaves who were increasing at an alarming rate in the country.

This factor was considered by the sacred writers of the New Testament as a theological precedent, or in the language of hermeneutics a "foreshadowing", for a parallel theological approach and interpretation of the corresponding event of the massacre of infants from a "new pharaoh", the hated Herod of another religion who was king of Judea. Just as the old Pharaoh expressed the opposing forces of darkness and oppression in reaction to the signs implemented for the planned and God-ordained salvation and historical recognition of Israel, and just as he killed the children so that Moses the first prophet of Exodus would not be born, so also did Herod as the "new Pharaoh" embody the actions of the same demonic powers. He attempts to impede the coming of the Savior of the world and the historical recognition of the new Israel, the Church.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is revealed from infancy already as Christ the Lord, who was sent by God for the salvation of the world. And Herod, who in a manic and insane way "seeks the soul of the child", manifested through his actions to be a representative of the evil one and is presented in the form of the Antichrist (see Rev. 12:l). The powerful present ruler, however, is essentially weak and vulnerable to the Infant who will become the final victor. The event of the massacre of the infants thus acquires a soteriological and eschatological perspective, where parallel it forms part of the "signs of the end" that predispose and prepare for the final defeat of evil and the victory of good.

In this line of theological semantics, the Massacre of the Innocents also conjures the prophecy of Jeremiah, who seven centuries prior announced prophetically and poetically described the following apocalyptic scene: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more" (Jer. 31:15). The historical evangelist Matthew makes use of the prophetic saying and theologically interprets it according to the contemporary event of the "lamentation of the weeping and wailing" of Bethlehem (Matt. 2:18). 


 
"Rachel weeping for her children"
 
The ancient prophecy referred to the sacrifices during the exodus of the old Israel from Egypt. And just as Moses at that time together with Joshua the son of Nun led the people of God from Egypt and "Egyptian bondage", from Pharaoh and pharaonic slavery, to the promised land and freedom, so now a "new Moses" and "new Joshua" will lead His people to a new exodus, to a new promised land, towards the eschatological country of freedom and dignity. Therefore the evangelist Matthew, being inspired, underlines in this theological symbolism and "foreshadowing" events, that "out of Egypt" again God called a leader for His people and for the great "exodus" of modern times (Matt. 2:15).

The apostle Paul and many interpreting Fathers of the Church make extensive use of the theological terms "Egypt" and "Pharaoh" in a typological interpretation of a purely theological character. The flight of the Infant Jesus to Egypt in the wake of the massacre of the infants of Bethlehem acquires, beyond its historical importance, also eschatological implications as if it is another "descent of the Son of God in Hades." There, in the "Hades of Egypt", Jesus Christ as the "new Moses" will meet His people and will invite them to a new eschatological "exodus" towards the new promised land, the Kingdom of God. (See Deut. 18:15, where Moses says: "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.")

The number 14,000

As regards, finally, the number 14,000 that sacred tradition has preserved for the slaughtered infants, this is not due to an accounting error, but comes from the influence of Jewish apocalyptic numerology. It is in fact a multiple of the sacred number of seven to the Jews, that symbolizes totality and universality. Similarly in the Apocalypse of John is found semantic reference to the other sacred number of twelve in multiples, with the observation that in the end times Jesus Christ comes again with the martyrs, who in their wholeness and perfection symbolically amount to 144,000 (Rev. 14:1 and 7:4). And certainly in this case it is not a real number, but for theological symbolism it expresses the universality of the Church, which is constituted and represented in the history of the Martyrs. The sacrificed and martyred saints over the centuries express the historical and eschatological unity of the Church. Those who are associated with power and strength, align with the respective "Pharaohs" and "Herods" of history. 


 
Holy Relics of the Saints Infant
 
The reporting of the evangelist of the event of the slaughter and sacrifice expresses in the most vivid way that Jesus and his followers do not realize their historical course in a romantic and idyllic world, but they are dominated by the realism of violence, bondage, oppressions and persecutions. The strong "Pharaohs" and "Herods" who usually dominate the destinies of peoples, representing opposite and demonic forces, perpetuate and augment the evils and injustices against the weak. The Holy Child, who from His first moments tasted of threats and violence, questionings and rejections, set the standard of the life of martyrdom of those who faithfully follow in His footsteps, to the end of historical time.

The history of the Church with its numerous martyrs continuously verifies the tragic reality that there can be no change in the world without the confessors of truth and the martyrs of freedom. Through the narration of the incident of the massacre of the infants it is stressed once again the permanent historical question: with what side will you finally align, with the powerful "Herods" or the innocent and weak who are as children of the "slain Lamb" and innocent infants, becoming martyrs of the truth "from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8)? This is one of the key questions that Christianity attempts to answer through the sacred text.

Almost all of the above is taken from the article by Professor Emeritus of Theology of the University of Athens, George P. Patronos, titled "The Massacre of the Innocents in the New Testament" ("Η σφαγή τών νηπίων κατά την Καινή Διαθήκη"), published in the magazine Ιστορικά (No. 216), in Eleftherotypia December 18, 2003 pp. 34-41.

Note: For a more detailed historical and theological hermeneutic approach to the event of the massacre of the infants, see George P. Patronos' The History of Jesus: From the Manger to the Empty Tomb (Η ιστορική πορεία τού Ιησού: από τη φάτνη ως τον κενό τάφο) published by Domos, Athens 1991, p. 580.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.


 
FATHER AGAPIOS LIPESA OMUKUBA and the 20 orphans in his charge, Kenya (from here

See also

Saints in December 29
Remembering the 14,000 Holy Infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod in Bethlehem and…the many innocents killed by the herods of our days


And what about the African Children?
 


, , Poverty, Water scarcity (tags)

The Bible, Children, Poverty, Ebola & an Orthodox Priest with his Friends in Sierra Leone  Paradise 4 Kids
2016 Christmas Message from Paradise 4 Kids
Kenya: Our Volunteers in Non-Profit Orthodox Orphanages...
 



The Saint Nektarios Education Fund
St. Nickolas Uganda Children's Fund
 
Kanisa la Orthodox nchini Kenya: Liturujia takatifu, watoto na zaburi - Orthodox Church in Kenya: the holy liturgy, children and psalms
Congo (Brazzaville): MINISTRY TO THE ORPHANS AND THE BISHOP’S ANXIETY

Τετάρτη, 28 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

2016 Christmas Message from Paradise 4 Kids


Paradise 4 kids

Photos from here

Greetings brothers and Sisters who support Fr Themi and his mission in West Africa. 


In the name of Jesus

I have just returned from Sierra Leone, after spending time with Fr Themi; and all I can say is, those of you who financially support the works of the Church in Sierra Leone should be proud and blessed that you share in these works.

From the moment I stepped of the plane, every time I mentioned the name of the “Orthodox Church” or the name “Fr Themi” or (Fudder Temmie as they pronounce it), I was received with great Love and Affection.

During my time I met with a number of Officials including the President and the Deputy Director of Social Welfare and the one common theme that always came up, was, that this Church, this Fr Themi did not abandon the people when EBOLA struck.

The Church’s reputation has grown from strength to strength as the “Church that Gives” and now, the Church that stayed and fought EBOLA with the people of Sierra Leone.


It is hard for us to understand what this means, but I can attest, that this is no small thing; whilst the hirelings abandoned their positions, the Shepard stayed and cared for the flock; this is how they see Fr Themi and the Orthodox Church.

Everyday, I saw the work of the Church and Fr Themi save lives; Not just spiritually, but physically; Your financial support, Feeds the Poor, Looks after the Sick, Clothes the Naked and gives purpose to thoses who have none.
The Church offers education to thousands of Children for FREE; Has a Teachers and IT College; Offers thousands of meals and feeding programs that Feed Thousands; Gives FREE Financial Aid to anyone for Health, Medical and Education (within our financial limits) and the list goes on and on.

I will never forget being introduced to a lady who looked like she was in her 60’s, attending one of the Church’s everyday, cleaning inside and out, maintaining the garden and just in general taking care of the grounds; And then, I was told she was a leader in one of a notorious groups, that during the war cut off hundreds, if not thousands of limbs; Yet, here she was at Church all day, everyday seeking forgiveness and giving a new purpose to her life; And now with the commencement of two new Orphanage Projects we, the supporters will help even more children.

Which of us can say that today we saved a life in the name of Jesus Christ?

Well, thoses of you who continually support this small insignificant mission in the eyes of the world, can stand up and proclaim that you are part of something that is doing just that; saving and transforming lives in the name of Jesus Christ!

This Christmas, while we indulge in our normal feasting, holidaying, partying and spending time with our friends, family and loved ones;



Please consider joining with the Church and Fr Themi, through P4K on a regular basis, by giving $20 a month by one of our giving methods at the below website, choose paypal for Non Tax deductible Gifts or choose your country for more Tax Deductible options.

http://paradise4kids.org/

Here are some photo albums so you can see for yourselves the good work done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. 2016 Growing shoes to the poor-
2. 2016 TV News Story – President-
3. 2016 OYF & Parishioners clean up-
4. 2016 Blind School & Orphanage-

Just before I sign off, I would like to recount why I went and one incident that happened while I was there.
Paradise 4 Kids USA & AU send on average 95% of every cent raised. We report all activity and expenditure of the mission in Sierra Leone to our respective Taxation departments. Every three months the mission accountants sends to the USA and Australia accounting reports of every project, so one of my duties was to go through all the projects accounts and ensure that all funding is spent correctly according to our respective Taxation laws in the USA, Australia and in Sierra Leone.

 
Map from here

I am happy to report not only are USA & AU laws followed with precise accounting methods, but the Church is up to date with local Taxation Laws continuing to pay all its payroll (staff income tax) and NASSIT retirement benefits tax (similar to USA’s 401k and Australia’s Superannuation benefits).

Now, regarding the incident; Paradise 4 Kids USA & AU had organised funds for Fr Themi to buy a slightly used second hand 4×4 Twin Cab Pick Up and a second hand 12-14 seater Bus.

While I was there Fr Themi was able to buy a great looking and working, 2015 Toyota Twin Cab Hilux Pick Up – see video of Fr T and the missions new Pick Up and it being used.

1. The New Truck
2. The Truck in Action- 


 

As for a Bus; while there, we visited many other Orphanages and schools that the Church helps as much as it can, and at one of these Schools and Orphanages, Fr Themi gave the bus to where he believed the need was greater than our own. – see video of Fr Themi giving away the funds for the bus and the response received.

1. How to Give away a Bus-

When I asked him why? (I remember thinking at that moment, “he has no idea how much we struggled just to raise these funds and now he just gave it away”),
He just said “What would Jesus have done”.

Fr Themi is like no other man I have met, he cares nothing for himself and works tirelessly for the Church, it’s people and for strangers in need, he sees the Crucified Christ in everyone and is willing to do anything, go anywhere and help anyone in need.


We are blessed to be involved with such a man.

1. Lets help him Buy a Bus –
Click to help -Non Tax deductible – Paypal Only


2. Lets help him buy more Growing Shoes –
Click to help -Non Tax deductible – Paypal Only


3. Lets help him Build the Orphanages –
Click to Donate -Tax Deductible in AU & USA


4. Lets help him Build Schools –
Click to Donate – Tax Deductible in AU & USA


Paradise 4 Kids USA & Australia 




“The rich exist for the sake of the poor. The poor exist for the salvation of the rich.”
— St. John Chrysostom

See also

Videos from Sierra Leone – There the Orthodox Christians fighting for a better world...
The Bible, Children, Poverty, Ebola & an Orthodox Priest with his Friends in Sierra Leone 

Kenya: Our Volunteers in Non-Profit Orthodox Orphanages...


Our tags: Orthodox Sierra Leone 
Sierra Leone
 

Δευτέρα, 26 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

"Out of Egypt Have I Called My Son"



Faith Encouraged
 
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
The Christian Church has been around a long time! And the place it’s existed the longest is the place where it first sprang up. The Church is, at it’s heart, a Semitic Faith, an Eastern Faith. And that’s because the Christian Church is the fulfillment of the promises made by God to Abraham, the father of the Faithful. So there are a lot of Jewish elements in the history of the Christian Faith. In fact, all of the early Christians were Jewish!
But Christianity didn’t stay there in Palestine, because Judaism was an empire-wide religion in the Roman Empire. And the fact that the Church quickly covered most (if not all) the territory of the Roman Empire meant that it included people from different cultures, language, and ethnicity.
Look at our lesson today Matthew 2:13-23:
When the wise men departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaos reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Why did God send the Holy Family to Egypt? Was it because God wasn’t able to protect the Lord and His mother and foster-father? Of course, that’s ridiculous. God isn’t weak.
Photo from here!
But He is loving, and He loves all His creation. And God wants all His creation to know Him in His fullness. And, since that’s actually not possible because God is forever beyond us, God enters His creation as a human through one of our human race. The eternal reality of God’s difference from us is insurmountable to us. He is Uncreated and we are created. He is the Cause of being and we are beings. He is Noncontingent; we are forever contingent. We are dependent for our existence on Him and He is dependent on no one for His existence. This is a big deal!
And it’s why we Orthodox insist on the cosmic worship that draws us to awe and not merely reduce worship to religious education or moral education. We NEED AWE to ever enjoy being with our AWESOME God.
So, after all that, why Egypt? And the reason is because God wanted Egypt to have a heritage of Christianity; to have a cultural memory that would be the seed of Faith for the African continent. And, in fact, the Christian Faith was planted in Egypt by St. Mark the Apostle around 50 AD. The Faith spread there quickly and St. Mark may have encountered people who “remembered” the Holy Family in Egypt when Christ was born! What an amazing reality!
St Mark (from here)
The whole purpose of this narrative about the Family escaping to Egypt and eventually returning to the town of Nazareth was to further the planting of this amazing event of God Enfleshing Himself for our sakes! And to do this in such a way that would change human history forever!
So, today, as we continue the celebration of the Incarnation; God’s loving invasion of rebel planet Earth, know God’s purpose is to have you fully embrace the amazing message of Joy and Hope in seeing God’s display of His loving Power in coming as a humble and weak baby that would grow to be the Risen Conqueror of Death and hell!
Merry Christmas!

P.S. Just a few days left in this year. Start turning your thinking to 2017, not with dread, but hope and joy. And do that by embracing the rhythm of prayer and worship in our precious Orthodox Church!

Fr. Barnabas PowellAbout Fr. Barnabas Powell
Fr. Barnabas is the parish priest at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming, Georgia. He is also host of Faith Encouraged Live on Ancient Faith Radio and author of the Faith Encouraged podcast.

“Out of Egypt have I called my Son.”
 
Icon from here
 

St. Matthew is quoting the prophet Hosea; who, in turn, was speaking with the voice of God. He said, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt have I called my son.” Hosea continued, “But the more I called Israel, the more they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to graven images.” (Hos. 11:1-2)
The prophet Hosea was speaking of the Exodus of the Jews from Israel. St. Matthew gives a new perspective: What had occurred with the deliverance of the Jews had taken place long before the prophecy was spoken. Thus, the prophecy was not fulfilled until Christ was born, and fled with Joseph and Mary into Egypt. The Jews had gone down into Egypt to avoid death by famine; Christ went down to avoid death from Herod’s jealousy and hatred. Life can be found in the most unlikely places.
The fathers tell us that, with Babylon, Egypt is a symbol of the world’s ungodliness [Note of our blog: because of idol worship]. In the coming of the Magi to worship Christ, we see Babylon acknowledging Him as king, and more. With Christ coming to Egypt, that land also will be transformed. Egypt is sanctified by Christ’s entry there; and Egypt over time turns to Him, becoming a paradise of monastics, such as St. Anthony the Great. “Out of Egypt have I called my Son”; and out of Egypt come many who glorify Him by being living bearers of His holy likeness.
We also are called to be sons of God; and we, who are worldly, we, who are ungodly, are sanctified by the entry of Christ. He enters us at the time of our baptism; and we receive Him, He enters us, when we receive the Mystery of Holy Communion. We are meant to turn to Him, and to be holy, leaving behind the things of this world, and applying ourselves to the toils and struggles by which the virtues we lack are to be obtained.
Brothers and sisters: The prophecy is fulfilled: “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” We are called out of this world to live for Christ. We are called out of sin and ungodliness to holiness. We are called out of death to life eternal. Let us not be as those before, who, having been delivered, turned their backs on God. Let us embrace the Orthodox Church, and faith, and way of life, so that we may be transformed; and so bear witness to the Son of God. 


Orthodox Christmas 2016 in Cairo, photo from here

See also

The Flight of the Holy Family Into Egypt

Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa 
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
 

Hy het die hemele neergebuig en neergedaal


Afrikaans Ortodoks

NativityVandag vier ons die Lig van Christus wat oor ons wêreld geskyn het. In die Geloofsbelydenis bely ons ons geloof in Jesus Christus wat “ter wille van ons saligheid neergedaal het uit die hemele, vlees geword het uit die Heilige Gees en die Maagd Maria en mens geword het.”
Die kern van ons geloof is dat ons glo dat Jesus Christus ons menslike natuur aangeneem het ten einde dit te genees. As mense is ons na die Beeld van God geskep, maar die koms van die sonde in die wêreld het die Beeld van God verwronge en donker geword. Ons het die vermoë om onsself te red verloor.
Vanweë Sy groot liefde vir ons, kon God ons nie maar net in so ‘n toestand laat nie. In plaas daarvan het Hy, deur die Vleeswording, die wesenlike dieptes van ons menslike werklikheid betree deur soos ons te word in alles, behalwe die sonde.
Die Geboorte staan nie op sigself nie, maar is verbind met die vervulling daarvan in die oorwinning van Christus se dood en Opstanding. Verder moet ons ook ons deel doen deur te reageer op Sy liefde. In die Vleeswording het Hy die pad vir ons oopgemaak deur een van ons te word sodat ons aan Sy goddelike lewe deel mag kry. Want soos verskeie Vaders dit stel: “Jesus Christus het mens geword sodat die mens God kan word.”

Toe Hy sien dat hy wat sy beeld en gelykenis dra deur oortreding geval het, het Jesus die hemele neergebuig en neergedaal en Sy woning in ‘n maagdelike skoot geneem, sonder om verandering te ondergaan, en daardeur die gevalle Adam weer nuut gemaak wat roep: Eer aan u Godverskyning, my Heiland en my God!
Vierde Gesang van die Litie van die Geboorte

Dit is Hy wat Sy volk van hul sondes sal verlos 

Afrikaans Ortodoks
Mattéüs 1:1-25

christ-tree-of-lifeOp die Sondag voor Kersfees, vestig die Kerk weereens ons aandag op die manne en vroue wat in die ware God geglo het en die weg berei het vir die koms van sy Seun. Vandag se Evangelielesing kom uit die Heilige Matthéüs se beskrywing van die geslagsregister van Jesus Christus en trek sy menslike voorsate deur tot by die patriarg Abraham.
Hierdie Evangelielesing klink vir ons miskien soos die ietwat droë samestelling van name, maar daar is belangrike redes waarom die Heilige Matthéüs sy Evangelie daarmee begin, en waarom die Kerk dit net voor Kersfees lees.
Ons moet eerstens daaraan herinner word dat Jesus Christus waarlik mens was, iets wooroor party van die vroegste ketters getwyfel het. Hy was nie maar net die een of ander goddelike wese wat op die aarde gewoon het nie, maar ‘n mens in Wie al die volheid van Godheid liggaamlik gewoon het. (Kol. 2:9)
Tweedens moet ons daaraan herinner word dat Christus in ‘n konkrete menslike geskiedenis gebore is. Hy is die vervulling van die belofte wat gemaak is aan Abraham en Dawid; Hy is die vervulling van al die verwagtinge van die volk Israel.
Derdens moet ons onthou dat Jesus Christus die ganse menslike geskiedenis op Hom neem, die slegte sowel as die goeie. Dit is nie net die gelowiges wat by die lys van Christus se voorsate ingesluit is nie; dit sluit ook moordenaars, egbrekers, sondaars en heidene in. Soos alle menslike geskiedenis, is die geskiedenis van die volk Israel nogal “smerig”. Tog neem Christus die volheid van hierdie geskiedenis op Hom; Hy tree daarin ten einde dit van binne te omvorm.

Toe Hy sien dat hy wat na sy beeld en gelykenis was deur oortreding weggeval het, het Jesus die hemele neergebuig en neergedaal en, sonder verandering,  sy woning in ‘n maagdelike skoot geneem, sodat Hy daarin die gevalle Adam kon herskep terwyl dié uitroep: Eer aan u Self-openbaring, my Redder en my God,!”
Uit die vierede Litievers vir  Kersfees.

Uittreksel uit Evangelion, ‘n Bulletin van die Ortodoks-Christelike Geloof, 18 Desember 2016



Kersfees 2016 in Pointe-Noire (foto van hier)
 
Sien ook
 
Artikels in ons blog oor Kersfees
Oosters-Ortodokse Kerk 
Ortodokse geestelike erfenis 
Ortodokse Christene in Afrika
The Orthodox Church in the Republic of South Africa 
Afrikaners en die transendente: Waarom ek die Ortodoksie gekies het