The Church of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple Marks the 50 th Anniversary of the Service of Protopriest Andrei Semyanko
On February 19, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus officiated at services on the 50 th anniversary of the service of Protopriest Andrei Semyanko, Rector of the Church of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple in Stratford, CT. On this day, His Eminence, in accordance with the decision of the Synod of Bishops, awarded the mitre to Fr Andrei during Divine Liturgy, which he performed along with Mitred Protopriest George Larin, Mitred Protopriest Roman Lukianov, Protopriest Theodor Shevzov and Fr Andrei, along with Deacon Constantine Semyanko. The choir sang prayerfully under the direction of Irene V Stepanoff. It is interesting to note that the mitre, given to Fr Andrei by the parishioners of St Seraphim Church in Sea Cliff, NY, at one time belonged to Bishop Mitrofan of Boston of blessed memory, the spiritual father and mentor of Fr Andrei for many years.
After "Blessed be the name of the Lord," His Eminence Vladyka addressed the worshipers with a sermon:
" Forty days have passed , brothers and sisters , since the day that we solemnly and joyfully celebrated the incarnation of the Son of God — the Nativity of Christ .
"Now we gather in this church to mark your parish feast day, which occurred last week. I express my heartfelt greetings to you and your Rector, Fr Andrei.
"What transpired on the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple? In the Old Testament, according to Mosaic law, every first-born male was to be brought to the Temple and dedicated to God.
"In order to fulfill this rite, every mother would come to the Old Testament Temple on the fortieth day of the son's birth and make a sacrifice to God, a year-old sheep and a young dove, or in case of poverty, two doves or two turtle-doves.
"The Most-Pure Virgin Mary did not need to do this, as she bore a child without a husband but by the descent of the Holy Spirit, yet She still fulfilled everything required by law.
"Coming to the Temple, the Holy Family was greeted by the High Priest Zacharius, who, moved by the Holy Spirit, led the Mother to the place reserved exclusively for virgins to the dismay of the scribes and Pharisees.
"So a sacrifice was brought here on behalf of Him Who would later Himself become the great and sole Sacrifice of the New Testament.
"But also, something wondrous and mysterious happened in the Temple: the Old Testament, in the persons of its best representatives: Righteous Simeon and Holy Righteous Anna, met the promised Redeemer and expressed their gratitude to Him. It is for this reason that the day is called the Synaxis, or Meeting.
"Holy Righteous Simeon is called the God-receiver, since he took into his arms the Divine Christ Child. Taking Him, he uttered the inspired prayer which is read daily at evening services: 'Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, now let Thy servant depart in peace…
"Something similar, brothers and sisters, occurred with each one of us by the will of the Holy Church, for we were 'enchurched' on the fortieth day of our birth; we were brought to the temple of God, where the priest, taking us into his arms, praised God with the prayer of Righteous Simeon, after which he placed us in the middle of the church, that is, before the Lord.
"The rite of 'enchurching' is the final inclusion of the newly-baptized into the host of the faithful. From this time on, the baptized person becomes a full-fledged member of the Church of Christ—this mysterious Body of Christ.
"But granting us such a great advantage, the rite of 'enchurching' places upon us great responsibility, too. As members of the Mystery that is the Body of Christ and Holy Church, we may attain salvation.
"May the Lord enable us to say, like Righteous Simeon the God-receiver, before our demise: 'Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, now let Thy servant depart in peace… Amen.'"
At the reception organized after the services, the clergy and parishioners honored the Rector, Fr Andrei.