On Tuesday, July 18, the feast day of the Venerable Martyresses Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara – as well as the feast of Venerable Sergius, Abbot & Wonderworker of Radonezh – the parishioners of St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Rocky Hill, NJ celebrated their patronal feast day.
Divine Liturgy on Tuesday morning was celebrated by diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov, co-served by parish rector Archpriest David Straut, Archpriest Seraphim Chemodakov (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ), Priest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ), Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of the diocesan cathedral), and parish Deacons Seraphim Komleski and Stephanos Bibas.
After the reading of the Gospel, Fr. David addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he said, in part:
"In the epistle reading for today, we find words that are sobering: our Christian Faith does not promise us protection against evil being unleashed against us. What it does promise is that God will help us to traverse any terrible situation, that He has given His Only-Begotten Son to become a human being, to take on humanity fully, and to suffer the most terrible things for our salvation, to defeat them, and to rise again from the dead. There some are people who want us to believe that, if we believe in Christ and have a personal relationship with Him, that all will go well for us – we will be healthy, wealthy, and wise. This is called the ‘Prosperity Gospel.’ As a corollary to this, they say that if you have suffering, sickness, or poverty, it is an indication that your relationship with God is not right.
"What a monstrous perversion of the truth this is! We see that our Savior suffered at the hands of His own people, who rejected Him; that He endured the mockery, the scourging, the rejection, and ultimately the Crucifixion, that He died upon the Cross, only – of course – to triumph over death in the Resurrection. And He does not promise that His followers will be any different from Himself: rather, we must endure sufferings in this life if we are to be saved. Sometimes these sufferings come from misunderstandings, or sickness, or even persecution. Our society now begins to resemble Russia 100 years ago – we have moved toward rejection of God and Christian virtue. In response to this, we must act like St. Elizabeth – steadfast, not fleeing in the face of danger. May God spare us from the fate of martyrdom, but if it be His will, let us always have St. Elizabeth and the other New Martyrs of Russia as our inspiration, as our hope, as our intercessors."
Upon completion of Liturgy, Fr. Serge Lukianov greeted Fr. David and the parishioners on behalf of the hierarchs and diocesan clergy and faithful on the occasion of their patronal feast day. In turn, Fr. David congratulated Fr. Serge Lukianov and Fr. Serge Ledkovsky, as well as the young acolyte Sergei, on the occasion of their namesday. The protodeacon then intoned the Polychronion for all of the namesday celebrants and parishioners.
A group photo was taken, followed by a luncheon for the clergy, parishioners, and guests outdoors on the church grounds, where a tent was set up for all.