Scripture Readings (KJV)
12Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
14Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
15Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
16Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
17Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
18Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
19Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
20But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.
21Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.
22Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
23Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
24And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
26And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Joel 3.12-21 (Vespers)
12Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
13Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
14Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
15The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
16The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
17So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
18And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
19Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
21For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.
7And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
8And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
9And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
11If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
13For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
14For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
15And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
16Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
17For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23(As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Holy Martyr Nicephorus (ca. 257)
Sapricius the priest and the layman Nicephorus lived in Antioch of Syria. Though they were the closest of friends, a disagreement between them led to estrangement and then to outright enmity. In time, Nicephorus came to himself and realized that reconciliation and love among brethren are precious in the sight of the Lord, and he sent to Sapricius to ask his forgiveness for Christ’s sake. But his messengers were turned away, and Sapricius coldly refused any reconciliation. At the same time he violated the Lord’s commandment by continuing to serve at the altar without seeking to make peace. Nicephorus finally went in person and threw himself at Sapricius’ feet, but even this had no effect.
Soon, persecution of Christians broke out, and Sapricius was arrested. When he confessed Christ without fear or hesitation, and refused to make sacrifice to the idols even under torture, he was condemned to be beheaded. Nicephorus was distressed that Sapricius might give his life in Christ’s name while still at enmity with a brother; and that he himself would lose his chance to make peace. As Sapricius was being led to the place of execution, Nicephorus went on his knees before him and cried ‘Martyr of Christ, forgive me the offences for which you are angry with me!’ Still, Sapricius coldly spurned his former friend’s pleas. For this reason, as the executioner was raising his sword, and the crown of martyrdom was only seconds away, God withdrew his grace from the priest, who turned to the executioner and declared his readiness to adore the idols. Nicephorus, who was among the witnesses, begged him not to apostatise, but his words were of no effect. Nicephorus then turned to the executioner and shouted ‘I am a Christian! I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ whom he has just denied. Let him go and put me to death in his place!’
The Governor agreed, and ordered the release of Sapricius and the execution of Nicephorus. The Martyr laid his neck on the block joyfully and claimed the crown that Sapricius had thrown away. The Synaxarion concludes:
‘When he departed for heaven to receive the crown of glory, Saint Nicephorus left to us Christians a vivid illustration of these words uttered by the Holy Spirit: If I deliver my body to be burned but have no love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:3). If you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses… For the measure you give will be the measure you get (Matt. 6:15; 7:2).’
Hieromartyr Peter of Damascus, bishop of Damascus (ca. 776)
“Saint Peter was Bishop of Damascus during the reign of Constantine Copronymus (c. 776) and a contemporary of Saint John of Damascus. He was arrested on the orders of the Caliph Walid for castigating the heretical doctrines of the Muslims and the Manichaeans. His tongue was cut out and he was exiled to South Arabia (Arabia Felix), where he continued to teach the true Faith and to serve the holy Mysteries until he entered into the reward of his labours in heaven.’ (Synaxarion)
Peter of Damascus, Hesychast (12th c.)
Little is known of him except by his writings in the Philokalia . Saint Nikodemos, compiler of the Philokalia, writes that his work is ‘a recapitulation of holy watchfulness… a circle within a circle, a concentrated Philokalia within the more extendedPhilokalia.’