On Sunday, August 29, the afterfeast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos and the day when the Holy Church celebrates the feast of the Translation from Edessa to Constantinople of the Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ "Not Made by Hands," Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan paid an archpastoral visit to Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Brooklyn, NY, and there celebrated Divine Liturgy. Concelebrating with His Grace were parish rector Archpriest Paul Ivanov, Archpriest Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ), Priest Nikolai Gulin (cleric of the Orthodox Church in America), and Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ).
The service was held under the aegis of the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. The parish choir prayerfully sang the Liturgy, while the sisterhood beautifully adorned the holy shroud and icons.
During the reading of the Hours, Bishop Nicholas ordained long-time parishioner Fiodor Tulbur a subdeacon, and at Liturgy ordained him to the diaconate. The newly ordained Deacon Fiodor will fulfill his service at Holy Myrrhbearers Church.
A multitude of parishioners, many of whom came with their children, communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of Liturgy, His Grace greeted the clergy and faithful with the ongoing feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, and addressed those present with a sermon, in which he said, in part:
"We rejoice in the fact that the Mother of God quietly, peacefully reposed, going from earth to Heaven, and yet without forsaking this world. And we glorify this marvelous wonder throughout all of these days. And today, we especially honor the special icon of our Lord ‒ the Savior ‘Not Made by Hands.’ The Savior Himself sent aid to the ailing King Abgar of Edessa in the form of His Divine visage. The icon was kept in that city until the 10th century, when it was taken to Constantinople. Today we honor that marvelous event, and glorify all icons of Jesus Christ."
Bishop Nicholas also made note of the particular lesson in humility that the Most Holy Theotokos teaches us. "The Most Pure Virgin received with humility with the word of the Archangel Gabriel that she would become the Mother of God Himself. She gave birth to the Son of God and raised Him, loved and protected Him, and when Jesus went out to preach, she remained at his side, with His disciples, the apostles. She herself listened to His teachings and beheld His miracles. The Mother of God took all of this deeply to heart.
"Very little is said in the Gospel about the Mother of God. What humility! Christ died on Golgotha for every one of us, and there, beside Him, wept the Mother of God, suffering and praying with humility for her Son and for the entire human race, and even for those who did not understand that Christ is the Son of God. After the Savior’s death, the Most Holy Theotokos remained alongside the apostles and even went out herself to preach, in order to announce to all that Christ God was born, died, arose, and gives to everyone who believes in the Son of God the opportunity to save his soul.
"The Mother of God visited the places connected with the Savior’s life ‒ Bethlehem, the Cenacle (High Room) in Jerusalem, Gethsemane. And each one of us can also have these holy sites within ourselves. Visiting God’s temple, we have there a living Jerusalem. In church, we can hear the Savior’s voice and sense the protection of the Mother of God, who comforts us and directs us with love toward her Son ‒ our Savior.
"Everything around us today is very tumultuous, noisy, and loud. Every day we hear of some new event. And, of course, this frays our nerves and makes us worry. And we must come to this Jerusalem ‒ our church ‒ and gaze upon the icon of the Savior. Just as the Mother of God gathered the apostles before her dormition, so has she also gathered us today near the icon of the Savior. Let us draw near, and we will feel that peace, tranquility, and humility. And we will say the most important thing: ‘Save us.’
"There is one more lesson in humility given to us today. Here with us is the Kursk Root Icon, and the Mother of God herself gives up the central spot in church to make way for the holy shroud, while the icon of the Savior remains off to the side, as if understanding that the Dormition takes precedence during these days. How wisely and beautifully is this arranged! The Lord shows us that we must also be humble and obedient Christians."
Bishop Nicholas expressed his joy that the Mother of God had gathered together the clergy and parishioner in this wonderful church and blessed the ordination of a new deacon, who will carry out his service here, and wished for them all to continue to be one Orthodox family, to labor and rejoice in the Lord and save their souls.
The rector thanked the archpastor for his visit and their shared prayers, and presented him with a set of books.
The sisterhood organized a festal luncheon in the parish hall, during which the interaction of the clergy and parishioners continued.