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January 2, 2022

Year 2 - Week 18 (January 2 - 8, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Proverbs 3:1-10

As we begin the New Year of 2022, we will continue for one more week to pause from our normal narrative readings, and return once again to the Book of Proverbs. This book, written by a father seeking to provide good guidance to his son, and by extension to all of us, directs us to walk the narrow path of faithfulness, avoiding the common temptations and holding fast to the Lord in all things. It is a good way to begin the new year.

Admonition to Trust and Honor God

3 My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
2 for length of days and years of life
and abundant welfare they will give you.

3 Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

8 It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.
9 Honor the Lord with your substance
and with the first fruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that in this passage, the teaching of the father is equated with the teaching of the Lord, because the father is faithful and is teaching what he is responsible to teach. We are assured here that following the Lord’s teaching and commandments will protect us from evil and grant us peace. And the substance of that teaching is loyalty and faithfulness to God, trust, humility, and repentance, offering our lives to Him, and receiving from Him all the blessings that come from Him alone. For us who are parents or godparents, this is what we are commanded to teach, both by word and by example. For us who are children, this is what we should be seeking to learn and to do.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Hymns from Theophany

On January 6th, the Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Theophany, which commemorates the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. This feast is not a simple historical remembrance, but is laden with cosmic significance; the Church sees this moment as a turning point, a fulfillment of many expectations, and a promise of greater things to come, as the water of the Jordan becomes the first matter to be made holy by the Lord Who has come into our midst as one of us, in order to sanctify us, and all Creation with us. These are the themes that the Church reflects on in the hymns of this feast day. There are a great many hymns worth reading for the feast-day, so do not hesitate to read only a selection, if you wish.

Idiomelon 1 of the First Hour

Today the substance of water is made holy, for the Master is washed in the Jordan. When the River sees Him, it stops its flow and bursts forth

Idiomelon 2 of the First Hour

You have come to the River as a man, O Christ our King; and You urgently request to receive a Baptism befitting a servant, at the hands of the Forerunner, all because of our sins, O good Lord who loves humanit

Doxastikon of the First Hour

When You had taken the form of a servant, O Lord, You approached John, the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord!" and You requested Baptism, although You were without sin. The waters saw You and were afraid. The Forerunner trembled in reaction, and he cried out and said, "How can I, who am the lamp, illumine You, who are the Light? How can I, the servant, lay my hand on You, my Master? I pray You sanctify me and the waters, O Savior, who takes away the sin of the world!

Kontakion from the Royal Hours

To the flowing streams today * of River Jordan * comes the Lord and cries aloud * to John the Baptist, and He says, * "Be not afraid to baptize me now; * for I have come to save Adam, the first-formed man."

Idiomelon 1 of the Kekragaria

O Lord, our illumination, who enlightens everyone, when the Forerunner saw You coming to be baptized, his soul rejoiced, while his hand trembled. He pointed at You and said to the people, "Behold, the One who delivers Israel, the One who frees us from corruption." O sinless One, O Christ our God, glory to You.

Mid Reading Troparion 1

You appeared in the world, even as the world's Creator, to illumine those who sit in darkness. Lord who loves humanity, glory to You.

Troparion 1 of the Great Blessing of the Water

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters, crying out and saying, "Come all, and receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the fear of God, yes, of Christ, who has come in His epiphany.

Idiomelon 1 of the Liti

He who covers Himself with light as with a garment ⁄ has granted for our sakes to become as we are. ⁄ Today He is covered by the streams of the Jordan, ⁄ though He has no need to be cleansed by them: ⁄ But through the cleansing that He Himself receives -- ⁄ wonder -- He bestows regeneration on us! ⁄ He refashions without shattering, ⁄ and without fire, He casts anew, ⁄ and He saves those who are enlightened in Him, ⁄⁄ Christ our God, the Savior of our souls.

Idiomelon 1 of the Aposticha

At the River Jordan, when John saw You coming to him, he said to You, O Christ our God, "Why have You come to a servant, for there is no dirt on You, O Lord? In whose name should I baptize You? In the name of the Father? But you have Him within You. In the name of the Son? But You are He incarnate. In the name of the Holy Spirit? But You know how to give It to the faithful by mouth." O God, who have appeared, have mercy on us.

Troparion 1 of Ode 1 of Canon 1 of the Feast

The Lord, the King of the ages, ⁄ renewed corrupted Adam, in the streams of Jordan. ⁄ He shattered the heads of the dragons hidden there, ⁄ for He has been glorified

Troparion 2 of Ode 1 of Canon 1 of the Feast

The Lord, incarnate of the Virgin, ⁄ having clothed material flesh with the immaterial fire of His divinity, ⁄ wraps Himself in the waters of Jordan, ⁄ for He has been glorified

Troparion 3 of Ode 1 of Canon 1 of the Feast

The Lord who purges out the filth of men, ⁄ was cleansed in the Jordan for their sake. ⁄ Of His own will, He made Himself like them, ⁄ while yet remaining what He was. ⁄ He enlightens those in darkness, ⁄ for He has been glorified.

Troparion 2 of Ode 1 of Canon 2 of the Feast

Word without beginning, ⁄ You have buried mankind with Yourself in the stream: ⁄ He was corrupted by error, but You make him new again! ⁄ The Father ineffably testified to You with a mighty voice: ⁄ This is My beloved Son, equal to Me by nature.

Idiomelon 3 of the Praises

When You our Savior were baptized in the River Jordan, You sanctified the waters, You were touched by the hand of Your servant, and You cured the world's passions. Great is the mystery of Your economy! O Lord who loves humanity, glory to You.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out the basic point of all these hymns is that Jesus is being baptized in the water, but it is not washing Him; rather, He is cleansing IT, and all of us by means of it. The Feast of Theophany is, in many ways, the pre-eminent celebration of the Lord’s Incarnation, and this is what we reflect on and marvel at in this season: that God has become human, and in becoming human, has transformed humanity. God has entered into His own creation, and by His entrance, the Creation itself is made holy. The Lord goes into the water, and its very nature is transformed, and it becomes the first fruit of the New Creation for us. This is why we consecrate the Holy Water on this day, so that we can participate in this joy and this glory. This is why we drink the Holy Water, and also why we use it to bless our homes and our businesses; because we don’t just remember that the Water was made holy, we don’t just confess that this happened, we don’t just marvel at the miracle. It is done for a purpose, to be an instrument of sanctification, a means by which we are made holy, and which we can use to cleanse our homes, and dedicate them to the service and worship of the Lord.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Mark 6:1-13

This week we return to our journey through the Gospel of Mark. In the previous chapter, we saw Jesus cross the Sea of Galilee and cast out the legion of demons from the man there, and then return to the Judaean side, where He healed the woman with the flow of blood and raised the little girl from the dead. This time, we will see Him go to His hometown, but things will be different there.

The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth

6 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

The Mission of the Twelve

Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.

10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out what St. Mark says, that Jesus “could do no deed of power there.” This is something remarkable; it tells us that something is required from the people that Jesus heals for Him to be able to help them. We know that this cannot be righteousness, because the demon-possessed man was not righteous. We know it cannot be poverty, because the father of the little girl who died was not poor. We know it cannot be purity, because the woman with the flow of blood was ritually impure, and had been for twelve years. What St. Mark says (and the other Gospel writers agree) is that faith is what is required. Faith in Greek is πιστις, and can be translated variously as belief/faith/trust/faithfulness. When it says in verse 6 that “He was amazed by their unbelief,” it is this word again. He was amazed at their lack of belief/faith/trust/faithfulness. All the people in His hometown could do was question, doubt, criticize, or co-opt…it was as though they could not accept that someone they knew from childhood could be worth listening to, obeying, or following. Therefore, they missed out on the great blessings that He had brought to other towns. When the Lord, then, sends the disciples out to begin to preach on His behalf, we see Him warn them against spending their time preaching to people without belief/faith/trust/faithfulness. So we must attend to ourselves, and ensure that we are not approaching the Lord ourselves without belief/faith/trust/faithfulness.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?