Our Orthodox Christmas celebrations at St John’s Church went very well, in peace and joy. There was a prayerful and well-attended Vigil service of Great Compline and Matins on the evening of Thursday 6th January and on Friday morning the Divine Liturgy. (We do not hold a midnight service, as this would be very difficult for the many small children and families we have). Fortunately many people came to confession on Thursday evening, so we coped with the confessions, many of occasional parishioners from the Ennismore Gardens Cathedral in Knightsbridge, which is actually further away from where they live than we are. So on Friday morning we started almost on time at 9.20. At this time of year we greatly appreciate our heating system so, although the church is very large, it is very cosy.
We had the blessing to be loaned holy relics from our friends in the Romanian Church in London. These include the very fragrant myrrh-giving relics of St Demetrius, also those of St George the Great-Martyr, Sts Cosmas and Damian and earth from the grave of St Paisius the Athonite. The holy relics will remain with us till Sunday 9th.
There were about one hundred communions for our Christmas. On Sunday we will be joined by two more priests from our Patriarchal Church, when we will have a lot more people, including all those who were unable to take the day off on Friday. After the service, there was a common meal, at the end of which the children sang the usual very sweet Ukrainian Christmas carols (koljadki).
Today we noted the message from our Patriarch Kyrill, who spoke against the phenomena of radicalism and fanaticism, which are so dangerous nowadays. He mentioned that they are not only widespread in the Holy Land, but ‘also in other parts of the world’ – as we well know. (www.pravoslavie.ru/143842.html). Nasty sectarianism is always a danger, when we have to deal with people who are not really Christians at all, but are motivated by a political or pathological ideology from abroad, cutting themselves off and refusing to concelebrate with our Moscow Patriarchate.