Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
FIRST READING: Genesis 1:1-2:3
The Creation of the World
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse[a] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made[b] the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.[c] And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,[d] and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants[e] yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[f] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds[g] fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Seventh Day, God Rests
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
1 Praise the Lord. Praise God in his holiness; *
praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts; *
praise him for his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; *
praise him upon the lute and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrels and dances; *
praise him upon the strings and pipe.
5 Praise him with the resounding cymbals; *
praise him with the loud cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. *
O praise the Lord.
SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 13:5-14
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
11 Finally, brothers,[a] rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,[b] agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
GOSPEL: Matthew 28:16-20
The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
NOTES from the ORTHODOX STUDY BIBLE
GENESIS1:1 God the Father made heaven and earth. “I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth” (Creed).
1:2 The Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit (BasilG; EphS). He proceeds from the Father, and is “the Lord and Giver of Life” (Creed). Since He is Lord, He is coequal with the Father, and is His Coworker in making heaven and earth.
1:3 God the Father spoke to His Word and Only-begotten Son, through whom He made the light (AthanG). Since the Son, too, is Lord, He is coequal with the Father, and is His Coworker in making heaven and earth.
The Holy Fathers teach that the Father made heaven and earth through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Holy Trinity made heaven and earth, the indivisible Trinity who exists as One—See John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. John 1:1 recalls the creation story of Genesis, and reveals the new creation in Christ, a Person as the eternal WORD, the divine light.
1:4-25 Since the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit made heaven and earth, They also made everything mentioned in these verses.
1:26-30 The Holy Trinity also made man. God the Father is speaking to God the Son (JohnChr), and He uses the personal pronouns Us and Our. These pronouns indicate three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as noted in 1:1–3.
The word image is in the singular, and shows the three distinct Persons of the Holy Trinity are one in nature and undivided. For it does not say, “Our images” (HilryP). Therefore, the Holy Trinity is one undivided nature in three distinct Persons.
Man is not one in nature with the Holy Trinity. But He was made in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity; and he was made male and female. Therefore, the dignity of each man and each woman is this image and likeness.
2:1-3 God finished the making of heaven and earth for man's sake. He rested from His creative activity on the seventh day to show His love and providential care for man, and to invite man to enjoy this Sabbath-rest. For as Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27).
Man failed to keep this Sabbath-rest. But Jesus fulfilled it for man by resting in the tomb on Great and Holy Saturday, after He said on the cross, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). For He destroyed sin and death, and rose again on the first day of the week. Through His saving work on man's behalf, He is man's Sabbath-rest, and He now invites all to find rest in Himself (Mt 11:28–30).
2CORINTHIANS 13:5 In this context, the test of being in Christ is a humble, virtuous life lived in communion with the Church.
13:12 The holy kiss, the kiss of peace, is an established liturgical tradition. Perhaps the final test of whether one is a Christian is whether one can give this kiss with an uncondemning conscience.
13:14 This Trinitarian blessing is also an ancient and contemporary liturgical practice.
MATTHEW 28:18 All authority has been given to Me: Christ declares that the authority that was His by nature in His divinity is now also possessed by His glorified human nature. This human nature has now trampled the final enemy—death (1Co 15:20–28).
28:19 This Great Commission—our Lord's final commandment given on earth—is to be lived out in the Church until He returns again. Making disciples cannot be done in the strength of man, but only in the power of God. The power of the Resurrection is not only for Jesus Himself, but is given to all believers for Christian life and mission.
28:20 Christ Himself is present in each believer and in the Church always, both personally and in the Holy Spirit, for neither can be separated from the other. To the end of the age does not by any means imply that we will be separated from Him at the end of the world. He is with us now, and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
CHALLENGE: The Holy Trinity made us in the likeness of ONE God in three Persons. Each of us was created to receive and reflect the fullness of GOD. Our corporate identity as a FAMILY is meant to reflect the fullness and UNITY of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35) We are all “works in progress”. How do you want God to help you as you courageously learn and grow into UNITY with GOD’s Divine Plan for you and our community, HIS BODY?
DEVELOPING LEADERS: Here is the link to Empowering Leadership: Leaving a Legacy based on Matthew 28:16-20: https://www.northcountyoutreach.org/about
THE COLLECT The COLLECT of the DAY gathers us around the central themes of God’s WORD in the readings that follow. Look for the answers to these questions each week:
1. Who is God? 2. What is he doing for us by His grace (unmerited favor)? Why?
3. What are we asking of God? 4. How will it happen? What is the source of power?