St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre Orthodox Church
Publish Date: 2023-12-31
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St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre Orthodox Church

General Information

  • Phone:
  • 860-664-9434
  • Street Address:

  • PO Box 134, 108 E Main St

  • Clinton, CT 06413-0134

Contact Information

Services Schedule

Please see our online calendar for dates and times of Feast Day services.

Past Bulletins



Jesus Christ taught us to love and serve all people, regardless of their ethnicity or nationality. To understand that, we need to look no further than to the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, it is offered "on behalf of all, and for all." As Orthodox Christians we stand against racism and bigotry. All human beings share one common identity as children of God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatian 3:28)

Members of our Parish Council are:
Greg Jankura - Vice President
Susan Davis- Council Member at Large
Sharon Hanson - Council Elect
 Luba Martins - Council Elect
Susan Egan - Treasurer
Dn Timothy Skuby - Secretary


Pastoral Care - General Information

Emergency Sick Calls can be made at any time. Please call Fr Steven at (860) 866-5802, when a family member is admitted to the hospital.
Anointing in Sickness: The Sacrament of Unction is available in Church, the hospital, or your home, for anyone who is sick and suffering, however severe. 
Marriages and Baptisms require early planning, scheduling and selections of sponsors (crown bearers or godparents). See Father before booking dates and reception halls!
Funerals are celebrated for practicing Orthodox Christians. Please see Father for details. The Church opposes cremation; we cannot celebrate funerals for cremations.



Thanksgiving for the New Year

The molebian will follow Divine Liturgy

Great Blessing of Water

Please bring your containers for the Holy Water, which will be blessed on Friday Evening. On Sunday, right after Liturgy, weather permitting, we will go to Clinton Beach to bless Long Island Sound.

House Blessings

House blessing will be held throughout the month of January. Simply contact me via email, text or phone to schedule a date and time to arrange the blessing of your home.


Prayers, Intercessions and Commemorations


Please pray for Sarah, Evelyn Leake and Victor Hoehnebart who are in need of God's mercy and healing.

  • Pray for: All those confined to hospitals, nursing homes, and their own homes due to illness; for all those who serve in the armed forces; widows, orphans, prisoners, victims of violence, and refugees;
  • All those suffering chronic illness, financial hardship, loneliness, addictions, abuse, abandonment and despair; those who are homeless, those who are institutionalize, those who have no one to pray for them;
  • All Orthodox seminarians & families; all Orthodox monks and nuns, and all those considering monastic life; all Orthodox missionaries and their families.
  • All those who have perished due to hatred, intolerance and pestilence; all those departed this life in the hope of the Resurrection.

Please let Fr. Steven know via email if you have more names for which to pray.

  • Departed: Fr Anthony, Mat Elizabeth, Kenneth, Fr Michael
  • Clergy and their families: Mat. Ann, Fr Sergei, and Mat Nancy
  • ​Catechumen: Robert, Abbie, Matthew, Joseph, Mary and Lynn
  • Individuals and Families: Susan, Luba, Suzanne, Gail Galina Evelyn, Rosemary, John, Lucille, Karen, Oleg, Lucia, Victor, Melissa, Christine, Sebastian, Olga, Daniel & Dayna, Branislava, Alton, Richard, Kristen
  • Birthdays and Name’s Days this Month: Aaron Hosking, Natalie Kurcharski (ND), Gail Kuziak, Dn Timothy (ND), 
  • Anniversaries this Month: 
  • ​Expecting and Newborn: Megan and her unborn child
  • ​Traveling: 
  • ​Sick and those in distress: Maria, Brian, Fr Vasily

Holy Righteous Ones: Joseph the Betrothed, David the King, and James the Brother of the Lord.Leavetaking of the NativitySunday after Nativity. “Unfading Flower” Icon of the Mother of God at Ardatov. Ven. Melania the Younger of Rome (439). Ven. Chiriacos (Kyriakis) of Bisericani (Romanian—160). Ven. Chiriacos (Kyriakis) of Tazlau (Romanian—1660). 

Again we pray for those who have lost their lives because of the wars in Ukraine and in the Middle East: that the Lord our God may look upon them with mercy, and give them rest where there is neither sickness, or sorrow, but life everlasting.
Again we pray for mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, for those who are suffering, wounded, grieving, or displaced because of the wars in Ukraine and in the Middle East.
Again we pray for a cessation of the hostilities against Ukraine and the Middle East, and that reconciliation and peace will flourish there, we pray thee, hearken and have mercy.


Parish Calendar

  • Schedule of Services and Events

    December 31, 2023 to January 8, 2024


    Sunday, December 31

    Sunday after Nativity

    9:30AM Divine Liturgy

    12:00PM Thanksgiving for the New Year


    Monday, January 1

    Circumcision of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

    8:30AM Akathist to St Basil the Great

    Tuesday, January 2

    Forefeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

    8:00AM Akathist to St Seraphim of Sarov

    8:30AM Daily Matins

    7:00PM Catechumens

    Wednesday, January 3

    Forefeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

    4:30PM Open Doors

    Thursday, January 4

    Forefeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

    8:30AM Daily Matins

    Friday, January 5

    ☦️ Eve of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

    8:30AM Royal Hours of Theophany

    5:30PM Vespers w/ Liturgy and the Great Blessing of Water

    Saturday, January 6

    The Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ


    8:30AM Divine Liturgy for Theophany

    Sunday, January 7

    Synaxis of John the Holy Glorious Prophet, Baptist, & Forerunner

    Liberty Page - B

    9:30AM Divine Liturgy

    11:30AM Blessing of Long Island Sound

    Monday, January 8

    Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ


Saints and Feasts

December 31

Melania the Younger, Nun of Rome

Saint Melania the Younger, who was born in 388, was the grand-daughter of Saint Melania the Elder (see June 8). Her father Publicola was an Eparch of Rome. She was joined in wedlock to a husband and became the mother of two children, both of which she lost shortly thereafter. Thus, having agreed with her husband to pass the rest of their lives in abstinence and chastity, and taking her mother Albina with her, she went off to Africa. They ransomed 8,000 captives; furthermore, they built two monasteries - one for men and one for women - in the city of Tagaste, which was in the district of Tunis. After seven years they moved to Jerusalem. Thereafter Melania shut herself up in a small and narrow hermitage by the Mount of Olives, and wearing away her body with fasting and vigil, she reposed in 434.

Because of the Apodosis of the Feast of the Nativity on the 31st of this month, the hymns of Saint Melania the Younger are transferred to December 30th along with the Martyr Anysia.

January 01

Circumcision of our Lord

Since the Mosaic Law commands that if a woman give birth to a male child, he should be circumcised in the foreskin of his flesh on the eighth day (Lev. 12:2-3), on this, the eighth day from His Nativity, our Saviour accepted the circumcision commanded by the Law. According to the command of the Angel, He received the Name which is above every name: JESUS, which means "Saviour" (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31 and 2:21).

January 01

Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesaria in Cappadocia

Saint Basil the Great was born about the end of the year 329 in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to a family renowned for their learning and holiness. His parents' names were Basil and Emily. His mother Emily (commemorated July 19) and his grandmother Macrina (Jan. 14) are Saints of the Church, together with all his brothers and sisters: Macrina, his elder sister (July 19), Gregory of Nyssa (Jan. 10), Peter of Sebastia (Jan. 9), and Naucratius. Basil studied in Constantnople under the sophist Libanius, then in Athens, where also he formed a friendship with the young Gregory, a fellow Cappadocian, later called "the Theologian." Through the good influence of his sister Macrina (see July 19), he chose to embrace the ascetical life, abandoning his worldly career. He visited the monks in Egypt, in Palestine, in Syria, and in Mesopotamia, and upon returning to Caesarea, he departed to a hermitage on the Iris River in Pontus, not far from Annesi, where his mother and his sister Macrina were already treading the path of the ascetical life; here he also wrote his ascetical homilies.

About the year 370, when the bishop of his country reposed, he was elected to succeed to his throne and was entrusted with the Church of Christ, which he tended for eight years, living in voluntary poverty and strict asceticism, having no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy as a worthy successor of the Apostles. The Emperor Valens, and Modestus, the Eparch of the East, who were of one mind with the Arians, tried with threats of exile and of torments to bend the Saint to their own confession, because he was the bastion of Orthodoxy in all Cappadocia, and preserved it from heresy when Arianism was at its strongest. But he set all their malice at nought, and in his willingness to give himself up to every suffering for the sake of the Faith, showed himself to be a martyr by volition. Modestus, amazed at Basil's fearlessness in his presence, said that no one had ever so spoken to him. "Perhaps," answered the Saint, "you have never met a bishop before." The Emperor Valens himself was almost won over by Basil's dignity and wisdom. When Valens' son fell gravely sick, he asked Saint Basil to pray for him. The Saint promised that his son would be restated if Valens agreed to have him baptized by the Orthodox; Valens agreed, Basil prayed, and the son was restored. But afterwards the Emperor had him baptized by Arians, and the child died soon after. Later, Valens, persuaded by his counsellors, decided to send the Saint into exile because he would not accept the Arians into communion; but his pen broke when he was signing the edict of banishment. He tried a second time and a third, but the same thing happened, so that the Emperor was filled with dread, and tore up the document, and Basil was not banished. The truly great Basil, spent with extreme ascetical practices and continual labours, at the helm of the church, departed to the Lord on the 1st of January, in 379. at the age of forty-nine.

His writings are replete with wisdom and erudition, and rich are these gifts he set forth the doctrines concerning the mysteries both of the creation (see his Hexaemeron) and of the Holy Trinity (see On the Holy Spirit). Because of the majesty and keenness of his eloquence, he is honoured as "the revealer of heavenly things" and "the Great."

Saint Basil is also celebrated on January 30th with Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom.

Rest from labour.

January 02

Seraphim the Wonderworker of Sarov

Saint Seraphim was born in the town of Kursk in 1759. From tender childhood he was under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, who, when he was nine years old, appeared to him in a vision, and through her icon of Kursk, healed him from a grave sickness from which he had not been expected to recover. At the age of nineteen he entered the monastery of Sarov, where he amazed all with his obedience, his lofty asceticism, and his great humility. In 1780 the Saint was stricken with a sickness which he manfully endured for three years, until our Lady the Theotokos healed him, appearing to him with the Apostles Peter and John. He was tonsured a monk in 1786, being named for the holy Hieromartyr Seraphim, Bishop of Phanarion (Dec. 4), and was ordained deacon a year later. In his unquenchable love for God, he continually added labours to labours, increasing in virtue and prayer with titan strides. Once, during the Divine Liturgy of Holy and Great Thursday, he was counted worthy of a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who appeared encompassed by the heavenly hosts. After this dread vision, he gave himself over to greater labours.

In 1794, Saint Seraphim took up the solitary life in a cell in the forest. This period of extreme asceticism lasted some fifteen years, until 1810. It was at this time that he took upon himself one of the greatest feats of his life. Assailed with despondency and a storm of contrary thoughts raised by the enemy of our salvation, the Saint passed a thousand nights on a rock, continuing in prayer until God gave him complete victory over the enemy. On another occasion, he was assaulted by robbers, who broke his chest and his head with their blows, leaving him almost dead. Here again, he began to recover after an appearance of the most holy Theotokos, who came to him with the Apostles Peter and John, and pointing to Saint Seraphim, uttered those awesome words, "This is one of my kind."

In 1810, at the age of fifty; weakened with his more than human struggles, Saint Seraphim returned to the monastery for the third part of his ascetical labours, in which he lived as a recluse until 1825. For the first five years of his reclusion, he spoke to no one at all, and little is known of this period. After five years, he began receiving visitors little by little, giving counsel and consolation to ailing souls. In 1825, the most holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint and revealed to him that it was pleasing to God that he fully end his seclusion; from this time the number of people who came to see him grew daily. It was also at the command of the holy Virgin that he undertook the spiritual direction of the Diveyevo Convent. He healed bodily ailments, foretold things to come, brought hardened sinners to repentance, and saw clearly the secrets of the heart of those who came to him. Through his utter humility and childlike simplicity, his unrivalled ascetical travails, and his angel-like love for God, he ascended to the holiness and greatness of the ancient God-bearing Fathers and became like Anthony for Egypt, the physician for the whole Russian land. In all, the most holy Theotokos appeared to him twelve times in his life. The last was on Annunciation, 1831, to announce to him that he would soon, enter into his rest. She appeared to him accompanied by twelve virgins-martyrs and monastic saints-with Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian. With a body ailing and broken from innumerable hardships, and an unspotted soul shining with the light of Heaven, the Saint lived less than two years after this, falling asleep in peace on January 2, 1833, chanting Paschal hymns. On the night of his repose, the righteous Philaret of the Glinsk Hermitage beheld his soul ascending to Heaven in light. Because of the universal testimony to the singular holiness of his life, and the seas of miracles that he performed both in life and after death, his veneration quickly spread beyond the boundaries of the Russian Empire to every corner of the earth. See also July 19.

January 03

Malachi the Prophet

The Prophet Malachi ("messenger of God") is the last of the twelve minor Prophets, and also of all the Prophets of the Old Testament. He prophesied in the days of Nehemias, a wise man among the Jews, who also held a high and powerful position in the court of Artaxerxes the Long-armed, King of the Persians, who reigned from 465 to 424 B.C. Malachis' book of prophecy is divided into four chapters; he foretold the coming of Christ as the Sun of Righteousness (4:2)

January 04

Synaxis of the 70 Apostles

The Seventy Disciples and Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ are those Whom our Saviour chose in addition to the Twelve and sent forth unto the work of preaching. With the passage of time, others were added to their number by the Holy Apostles, who, with the accompaniment and assistance of the Seventy, were preaching the Gospel of Christ in various lands. Although their number eventually exceeded seventy, they were all nonetheless referred to as "of the Seventy" out of reverence for the number of Apostles which the Lord chose.

The divine Apostle and Evangelist Luke describes the calling and the sending forth of the Seventy as follows in his Holy Gospel (Luke 10:1-16): "After these things the Lord appointed another seventy disciples, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. Therefore said He unto them, the harvest is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send forth labourers into His harvest. Go then: behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry neither purse, nor bag, nor sandals: and greet no man on the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter first say, Peace be on this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you; And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveeth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding know ye this, that the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hades. He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me."

After the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord, and after Pentecost, on which all the Apostles and men and women disciples of Christ, together with the Most Holy Theotokos (some 120 in number), were gathered in the upper chamber, they received the grace of the All-holy Spirit and went forth throughout the ends of the world, everywhere preaching and teaching the Gospel of Christ, and leading to the true Faith the peoples who were sunk in the darkness of impiety and idolatry.

January 06

The Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

About the beginning of our Lord's thirtieth year, John the Forerunner, who was some six months older than Our Saviour according to the flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood, received a command from God and came into the parts of the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins. Then our Saviour also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received baptism though He was the Master and John was but a servant. Whereupon, there came to pass those marvellous deeds, great and beyond nature: the Heavens were opened, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove upon Him that was being baptized and the voice was heard from the Heavens hearing witness that this was the beloved Son of God, now baptized as a man (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:1-22). From these events the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the great mystery of the Trinity were demonstrated. It is also from this that the present feast is called "Theophany," that is, the divine manifestation, God's appearance among men. On this venerable day the sacred mystery of Christian baptism was inaugurated; henceforth also began the saving preaching of the Kingdom of the Heavens.

January 07

Synaxis of John the Holy Glorious Prophet, Baptist, & Forerunner

Today we celebrate the Synaxis in honour of the most sacred Forerunner, since he ministered at the Mystery of the Divine Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rest from labour. Fish allowed.


Hymns of the Day


Tone 5 Troparion (Resurrection)

Let us, the faithful, praise and worship the Word,
co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit,
born for our salvation from the Virgin;
for He willed to be lifted up on the Cross in the flesh,
to endure death,
and to raise the dead//
by His glorious Resurrection.

Tone 4 Troparion (Feast)

Your Nativity, O Christ our God,
has shone to the world the light of wisdom!
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
were taught by a star to adore You,
the Sun of Righteousness,
and to know You, the Orient from on high.//
O Lord, glory to You!

Tone 2 Troparion (Righteous Ones)

Proclaim the wonder, O Joseph,
to David, the ancestor of God;
you have seen a Virgin great with child;
and you gave glory with the shepherds;
you worshipped with the Magi,
and received the news from the Angel.//
Pray to Christ God to save our souls!

Tone 3 Kontakion (Righteous Ones)

Today godly David is filled with joy;
Joseph and James offer praise.
The glorious crown of their kinship with Christ fills them with great joy.
They sing praises to the One ineffably born on earth,//
and they cry out: “O Compassionate One, save those who honor You!”

Tone 3 Kontakion (Feast)

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels with shepherds glorify Him!
The Wise Men journey with the star,//
since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little Child!

Tone 8 Prokeimenon (Feast)

Let all the earth worship You and praise You; / let it praise Your Name, O Most High! (Ps. 65:3)

V. Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth! Sing of His Name, give glory to His praise! (Ps. 65:1)

Tone 4 Prokeimenon (Righteous Ones)

God is wonderful in His saints, / the God of Israel. (Ps. 67:35a)

(Instead of “It is truly meet…,” we sing:)

Magnify, O my soul, the most pure Virgin Theotokos,
more honorable and more glorious than the heavenly hosts.

I behold a strange, most glorious mystery:
heaven—the cave;
the cherubic throne—the Virgin;
the manger—the place where Christ lay:
the uncontainable God, Whom we magnify in song.

Communion Hymn

Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the highest! (Ps. 148:1)
The Lord has sent redemption to His people. (Ps. 110:8a)
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!



Gospel and Epistle Readings

Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. 3rd Tone. Psalm 46.6,1.
Sing praises to our God, sing praises.
Verse: Clap your hands, all you nations.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 1:11-19.

Brethren, I would have you know that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.

Gospel Reading

The Reading is from 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."


Wisdom of the Fathers

The Ancient of Days, who in times past gave Moses the Law on Sinai, appears this day as a babe. As Maker of the Law He fulfills the Law, and according to the Law He is brought into the temple and given over to the Elder.
Festal Menaion. Great Vespers.

Nathanael too enters ... saying, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" ... Nevertheless, He is not ashamed to be named even from thence, signifying that He needs not ought of the things of men; and His disciples also He chooses out of Galilee.
St. John Chrysostom
Homily 9 on Matthew 2, 4th Century


Receive the Light


One Body In Christ
Lesson 8: Adoption into the Family (People) of God


Romans 8:13-37
Romans 9-11

St. Paul used another great metaphor in Romans chapter 8 to describe the new relationship between Christians and God: he
contrasted being slaves under the Law to being free as adopted “sons of God”. Led by the Spirit of God, we become heirs of God, co-heirs of Christ, and sharers in His suffering. As previously mentioned, nearly thirty percent of the Roman population were slaves during the period when the Book of Romans was written, so they could easily understand the concept of bondage.

The legal process of adoption was very serious and complicated with the ceremony of adoption requiring seven witnesses. These witnesses would testify in any disputes regarding the adopted child’s inheritance rights. St. Paul said that the Spirit is our witness. St. Paul said that those who lived under the Law were like slaves who lived in fear of their Master – God. Those who were now adopted children of God were sharers in Christ’s glory and suffering – Deification. (Romans 8:13-17) St. Paul foresaw fulfillment of God’s greater plan: the redemption of all creation.

The children of God, by faith, are the first fruits of the new age to come. The current suffering and chaos will disappear and pass away. The old world that is decaying and dying is to be replaced by an eternal day of God’s freedom and glory. (Romans 8:18-30)

St. Paul wrote that the current age of suffering filled with tribulation and distress will be overcome by the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. It is one of the most lyrical passages he ever wrote. It is also one of his most important, establishing the basis of an early creed: Christ died; He rose again; and He sits at the right hand of God the Father. Knowing this, he says that our current suffering will work together as part of God’s plan for the good to those who love God. No power in the universe can separate us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:31-39)

In Chapters 9-11, St. Paul expressed his sorrow for his own people, the Israelites, who accused him of disloyalty. He called them children of the promise because they were direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because he was also a Jew, the situation was heartbreaking to him. He said he would gladly lay down his life to bring his countrymen to Christ. He said they hold a special position in the salvation of mankind. The Jewish rejection of Christ opened the door for the salvation of the Gentiles and through them, the entire world.

The point St. Paul made was that the Jews put their faith in the Law and prioritized obedience to the Law (their own efforts in obeying the Law) above all else, while the Gentiles did not pursue the Law but instead put their faith in Christ above all else. Still, as an Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Paul said the Gentiles should not boast. He calls them wild olive shoots grafted into a garden olive tree, allegorically illustrating the Gentiles’ dependence on the faith heritage provided by the Jews. Because of this rich faith heritage, the Gentiles should be grateful and respectful of the Jews.

God’s plan of salvation is a mystery and a paradox. Eventually, salvation will come to the Jews through the Gentile Christians, which reveals God’s will: that everyone and all creation be saved.

Discussion & Reflection

Q1: St. Paul contrasts the position of being enslaved with that of being a family member free of bondage. What was the difference? How does Paul use this to describe being “sons of God”?

A1: In ancient Rome, family members had legal rights including entitlement to inheritance rights. Slaves had no rights. They were subject to the whims and conditions of the master. They were often mistreated and subject to physical and sexual abuse.
As "sons of God" we are inheritors of both His suffering and His glory. The Spirit ofGod also gives us hope and strength. Can you imagine your life without the hope and strength our faith in Christ provides?

Q2: St. Paul writes, “All things work together for good to those who love God. ” Do you agree with his statement?

A2: St. Paul sees the suffering of Christ as freeing believers from sin and death. He sees his, and our own, suffering as our ultimate participation with Christ in saving mankind. Thus, he sees the suffering and tribulation of the current age as a continuance of God’s plan. While pain and trouble are painful in the short term, in the long term they will bring about God’s victory of love and salvation.

Q3: Why was St. Paul grieved?

A3: He was grieved because his countrymen, the Jews, rejected Christ. Instead of accepting God’s invitation of adoption, they ignored Christ’s message and continued to follow the Mosaic Law, stubbornly thinking that the works of the Law could save them.

Q4: Should the Gentile Christians boast that they are now heirs of God’s promise?

A4: St. Paul says they should not be boastful or look down on the Jews. The gentiles are inheritors of the rich faith heritage that the Jews have provided them: the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Prophets. He says they are wild olive shoots grafted into a garden olive tree.


  • The Orthodox Study Bible, The Epistle to the Romans
  • Explanation of the Descent into Hades icon (Resurrection icon), Orthodox Road, Fr. Jeremy, December 2, 2012,
  • icon-explanation/
  • Podcast: "The Whole Counsel of God" Romans, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, and Chapter 11 by Fr. Stephen De Young
  • (

Meditation & Activity

Family Activity
Materials: poster board, markers, glue, one photo of each family member, (optional) printed icon of Christ
Visually divide the poster in half vertically. On the left side, glue down a picture of each family member. On the right side, write “God’s Love”. Optional: attach a printed icon of Christ beside the text. In the middle of the poster, write a list of life problems each family member is experiencing. Examples might be illness, peer pressure, money, arguments, unemployment. After looking at the poster, each family member should take turns drawing a neat, red Cross through each problem to illustrate how nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Church Wisdom

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all
things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the
Father before all worlds, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made;
of one essence with the Father; by whom all things were made:
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate
of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man;
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
And ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;
And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose
kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the
Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who
spake by the Prophets;
And I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.
I look for the Resurrection of the dead,
And the Life of the world to come, Amen.


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Bulletin Inserts