Getting busy with house blessings

As you all know, the time between the Feast of Theophany and the beginning of Great Lent is the time for house blessings. If you happen to look at our online church calendar, you will now see quite a lot of time-slots labelled “house blessing” – mostly on Friday evenings and Saturdays during the day. Fear not. Your priest is not that busy blessing houses! Rather, these are time-slots which I am making publicly available to help your disorganized priest organize a house-blessing at your house!

If you want to use the newfangled Google Calendar appointment slots that I’ve set up, just visit our brand-new self-serve-house-blessing-appointment page here. Or, if you prefer to arrange things the old-fashioned way, please feel free to e-mail me or contact me by phone or even just talk to me after any of the services, and we’ll set something up!

As you will doubtless recall, the house-blessing service is not terribly long or involved. It is a simple and meaningful way of dedicating our homes to God and of physically connecting them to the church through prayer, the presence of the priest, and the sprinkling of the water which God blessed by our prayers and by His presence at the Feast of Theophany. All you need for the service is a candle, some holy water (which I can bring if you don’t have any yet), and a reasonably clean home. It is always nice to have other family and friends present if we can arrange it, or even to arrange communal house blessings, if practical, but only your own presence (and mine!) is strictly necessary.

Visiting your homes to bless them with you is one of my favourite duties as a priest. I look forward to the privilege of being present in your homes to ask God’s blessing upon them at whatever time we manage to arrange – either in the time-slots now specified on the online church calendar or at any other time we can arrange that is mutually convenient and spiritually beneficial!

Love in Christ,

Fr. Justin.

Celebrating with Holy Resurrection this Saturday

Just a reminder that there will NOT be a service at St. Johns this Saturday evening (Oct. 29), as we will be celebrating Holy Resurrections patronal feast-day by joining our brothers and sisters at Holy Resurrection Sobor (75 East 43rd Avenue), along with Vladyka Irénée, for their festal Vigil service, starting at 6:00pm. See you at Holy Resurrection!

Nativity – and icon – of the Theotokos

Christ is in our midst!

Two upcoming service notes… One a reminder and the other unexpected news…

First, the reminder: Tomorrow evening (Wed., Sept. 7th) at 7pm we will celebrate the Nativity of the Theotokos with a Vesperal Liturgy, as planned. As usual, please come fasting from about noon on if you are intending to receive communion.

Second, the news: You have heard that the myrrh-streaming icon of the Theotokos is coming to Vancouver this weekend – to Holy Resurrection Sobor and to Holy Trinity Church. Well, the rector of Holy Trinity Church, Fr. Sergei, apparently spoke very highly of our little community to the bearer of the icon, and the myrrh-streaming icon is now also coming to St. John’s!

If all goes according to plan, the icon will arrive at St. John’s around noon on Saturday, perhaps a little later – so we will begin our prayers before the icon around 12:30 or so. I am astonished and humbled that the icon is being brought to us – a blessing unlooked for – we have much to learn about God’s grace…

For those interested in knowing more about the holy icon, its history is recorded here:

I would also like to note how welcoming and hospitable both Holy Resurrection and Holy Trinity Churches have been to us. The icon’s coming to our little mission may take away one material reason to visit our neighbours, but the love they have shown us in this should give us all the more reason to visit and further establish the spiritual bond of friendship between our parishes.

Love in Christ,

Fr. Justin.

Pentecost and Kneeling Vespers

This Sunday, as you know, is the great feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is, of course, the birthday of the Church, and is the liturgical birthday of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Mission – it was on Pentecost Sunday, 2007, that we celebrated our very first Divine Liturgy in our current location. In memory of that, I’ve dug out an old photo album of that momentous event (pictures by Gregory Gascoigne):

St John's First Liturgy (Pentecost 2007)

We have grown in many ways since then!

Following our celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Pentecost, the posture of penitence, kneeling – which we have avoided throughout the joyous celebration of Pascha – is restored to us in the “Kneeling Vespers” service. We generally celebrate this service right after we finish our Agape Feast, following the Divine Liturgy.