All posts by Fr. Michael Laffoon


December 21, 2014 Sun Before Nativity


Troparion for the Resurrection, in the Third Tone: Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, for the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm. He hath trampled down death by death, and became the first-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.

Troparion of the Forefeast in the Fourth Tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem; for Eden hath been opened for all.  Prepare, O Ephratha; for the Tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin; for her belly did appear as a supersensual paradise in which is planted the divine Plant, whereof eating we shall live and not die as Adam.  Verily, Christ shall be born, raising the likeness that fell of old.

Troparion of the Sunday before Christmas in the Second Tone: Great are the accomplishments of faith; for the three holy youths rejoiced in the fountain of flames as though at waters of rest.  And the Prophet Daniel appeared a shepherd to the lions as though they were sheep.   Wherefore, by their pleadings, O Christ God, have mercy upon us.

Troparion to St. Mark in the Fourth Tone: From thy childhood the light of truth enlightened thee, O Mark, and thou didst love the labor of Christ the Savior. Wherefore thou didst follow Peter with zeal and didst serve Paul as a fellow laborer and didst enlighten the world with thy holy Gospel.

Kontakion of Preparation for the Nativity of Christ in the Third Tone: On this day the Virgin cometh to the cave to give birth to God the Word ineffably, Who was before all the ages. Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing the gladsome tidings; with the Angels and shepherds now glorify Him Who is willing to be gazed on as a young Child Who before the ages is God.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Prokeimenon Tone 4 (Daniel 3.26, 27) Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our Fathers.  For you are just in all you have done.

The reading from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews (11:9-10, 32-40) 

Brethren, by faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets —  who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated — of whom the world was not worthy — wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Alleluia Verses Tone 4 (Psalms 43.1; 33.17) O God, we have heard with our ears.  The righteous cried and the Lord heard them.

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew (1:1-25) 

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram,  and Aram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,  and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,  and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa,  and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,  and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,  and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah,  and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,  and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,  and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,  and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Holy Oblations are offered today by Lydia, Ibrahim, Michael & Chris Wakileh for Charlie on his birthday 12/17, by Jacob, Andy, Randy, Jake Bahbah, and Adele Kennan and her family for Vera on her birthday 12/19, by Helena Kassir & family for her Aunt Souad Nohra passed away in Duma, Lebanon last week, by Michael, Charlotte, Mellissa, Grace & Amanda Khoury for Melody and George on the occasion of their birthdays, and by Georgette, Ramzi, Ronda Salameh and family for Manuel and Nour on the occasion of their birthdays and for the health and salvation of  Nabeel, Dina, Joe, Ned, Yepp, Muna, Nazih, Samer and Samar.


Instead of our usual Coffee Hour, our Ladies Guild holds its Annual pre-Christmas Bake Sale and Boutique today.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Please remember in your prayers: Odette Chade, Maha Kureh, Darlyne Dibs, Eleanor Wackeen, Vanda Billeh, Michael Asaly and the suffering people of West Africa, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Ukraine and everywhere afflicted with disease and violence.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Ushers serving this week: Nelson Mamey and Jimmy Goson

Ushers serving next week: Nader Qoborsi & Maurice Karkar

Altar boys serving Today: James Bahbah, Peter Williams, Nicholas Bahou, Youssef Youssef.

Altar boys serving Next Week: James Dabbah, Paul Youssef, Nour Youssef, Matthew Dabbah

Church Etiquette

  • Please be on time for services; those arriving late should not approach the Chalice for Communion.
  • To receive Communion, one must be a baptized/chrismated Orthodox Christian who has prepared by prayer, fasting, alms giving, and regular confession.
  • Confessions are heard on Sunday mornings and during the week by appointment.
  • Men, women, and children: please dress modestly for services.
  • Please remove lip balm or lipstick before receiving Communion or kissing the holy icons, Chalice, or Gospel.
  • If you wish to stand for the entire service, please do so in the back or the aisle so as not to block the view of others who may need to sit. When seated, we should refrain from a posture of relaxation (e.g., crossing legs or arms).
  • Pledges, Tithes, Donations: Giving 10% of one’s income is God-pleasing, as are all gifts offered by a pious and cheerful giver with a humble heart. Membership forms, renewed annually, are located in the Hall.
  • Children are welcome! Yet, if they interfere with the prayers of the faithful, we all may need a break.

Quote from the Saints

“Fasting is an admirable thing, but it is more admirable to forgive insults. Through fasting a man is preparing for charity, but by forgiving insults, a man shows charity. Fasting precedes forgiveness, but fasting alone does not save without forgiveness.” — St. Nicholai of Zica 

Canned Food Drive

The economic recovery since the Great Recession has been sluggish. All relief agencies are seeing more needs and at the same time donations are down. In light of this, the ongoing canned food collection of our parish is a small but important way to help. Please try to bring something to go in the collection barrel every week.

Good Samaritan Fund

Several years ago, St. Mark Church established a fund for assisting those in need, both within our parish and in the general community. From time to time we ask for contributions to the Good Samaritan Fund, and this is one of those times. If you are in need of assistance or you are aware of someone in our parish that needs financial assistance, please speak with Fr. Michael.


We are in the last days of the Christmas Fast.  In the next few days we should not forget prayer, alms and scripture reading. We are now in the strictest time of the Fast, (abstention from all meat, poultry, dairy & egg products, alcohol and olive oil). The only way to celebrate the Birth of the Savior is to prepare for a Holy Feast Day by participating in meaningful ways in the Fast! This includes the Sacrament of Confession (see schedule below).

Book store

There are several Christmas items available for sale on the table outside the bookstore.

A 10% discount is being given on any items purchased today.   Your support is appreciated.

Thanks to Jamal & Hiam Sayegh for donating the Poinsettias to decorate our church for Christmas.

Thanks to all the Ladies who came and helped in baking the Spinach pies and Manaeesh on Friday December 19th.


Teen SOYO Community Christmas Card stuffing, sealing and stamping party today after Church School.


The 2015 Calendars are here. Please pick up one Calendar per family from the table at the hall by the bulletin board.

Christmas week Services

Sunday December 21st, 7:00 p.m. Pre- Feast Vespers

Monday December 22nd, 7:00 p.m. Pre- Feast Vespers

Tuesday December 23rd, 7:00 p.m. Pre- Feast Vespers

Wednesday December 24th. 9:30 a.m. Royal Hours;

Wednesday Evening 6:30 p.m. Vesperal Divine Liturgy and Church School Musical Program!

Thursday December 25th, Nativity of Christ Orthros 9:00 a.m. and Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.

Next week

Sunday December 28th, Teen SOYO Christmas party at the Church Hall from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m. Please see flyer included in this bulletin for more information.

Wednesday December 31, 6:30 p.m. Evening Liturgy for the Circumcision of the Lord and St. Basil’s Day. (Orthros 5:30 pm)

Men’s Club New Years Eve Party on Wednesday December 31st, at 8: p.m. Please see flyers included in this bulletin and reserve your tickets today.

Upcoming Services & Events

Sunday January 4th, Ladies Guild Zalabieh Luncheon, see flyer included for more details.


Sunday January 4th, Red Cross Blood Drive at our church, please see flyer included for more information.

Saturday January 10th, St. Mark Ladies Guild Christmas Luncheon at the Church Hall. Please see flyers included for more information.

Sunday January 25, Metropolitan Joseph will be with us for Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

DEADLINE APPROACHING FOR ENTHRONEMENT GALA PROGRAM BOOK – only 8 days left! Do not miss participating in the program book for the West Coast Celebration of the Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, which will take place on Saturday, January 31, 2015. This is a historic, once-in-a-lifetime celebration and you will want to have your family and loved ones included. For those of you attending the event, it will be a wonderful commemorative item. But especially for those who can’t attend the event, make sure you and your family are included in this historic celebration in the life of our Diocese. The deadline for the program book has been extended to Monday, December 29. Program Book Order Form is included in your bulletin. For further information please visit:



Mark your Calendar for Valentine party on Saturday February 14th at 7:00 p.m.


We have begun our 2015 Pledge Drive. In your bulletin you should find a Pledge Card for the New Year. Please fill in and place these cards in the White Box on the table by the bulletin board, so that we can fulfill the 2015 Budget as passed by the parish at our annual meeting last month.


St. Mark 2015 Stewardship Pledge Drive Progress Report

Thank you to all of you who have made their 2015 Pledge Commitment to St. Mark. As of December 13th, we have 48 pledges for a total of $88,910 pledged.

Saint of the Day

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers of Christ

On the Sunday that occurs between December 11 and 17, we commemorate the great Fathers and Mothers and Prophets of the Old Testament, starting with Adam, Abraham, the Righteous Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, including Holy Prophet Elias and Daniel, and concluding with Holy Prophet Zechariah (Zachary), Joachim and Anna, Holy Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist and The Theotokos. They lived before the Law and under the Law, especially the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said, “In thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, 22:18).


Our Ladies Guild buys scrip from many and various stores and Restaurants (see list included in this Bulletin) at a 3 to 10% discount. When you buy the scrip, which is accepted just like cash at the issuing store, the Parish benefits. You pay no more for these goods and services and are making a donation to our parish.  You can purchase this scrip from Saeda Turk at the coffee hour.