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The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

These are the words from the Gospel which is appointed to be read today and also witnesses to our present miracle. This is the miracle of the Church.

Twenty-five years ago, amid the mockings of the whole world, under the leadership of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philaret, our Church canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in New York. As a result, the Soviet atheist regime began to fall apart and from 1988 on Russia underwent a Second Baptism.

It was this miracle of repentance, by the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors, that after the nightmarish captivity of the Soviet era, we saw the canonization in Moscow of what had been begun in New York. There too, the New Martyrs and Confessors were admitted to the choir of the Saints. And so it is this week that our Bishops have announced that Metropolitan Laurus and Patriarch Alexis are to meet and sign the Statement of Canonical Communion, which will bring both parts of the Russian Church into communion.

This is the miracle of repentance, of repentance of those who said that the Church was wrong to take its stand against Communist persecution and secularism. Today, the Church is proved right. And today we should therefore be thinking of our patron St John. For it was he who some fifty years ago prophesied that:

When at last comes freedom from atheist government, then there will be rejoicing and triumph at the restoration of the Russian Church...We pray to the Lord, that He will hasten the coming of that long-desired and awaited hour, when the First Hierarch of All Russia, going up to his Patriarchal place in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow, will gather around him all the Russian Archpastors, come from all the Russian and foreign lands.

Therefore, having completed the Divine Liturgy, let us now sing the Akathist to St John, in threefold thanksgiving to God, that the stone that was rejected is become the head of the corner, that the miracle of repentance has taken place, and for St John's prophecy, which through the dark years of our persecution has lit the lamp of hope in our hearts and now is fulfilled. Truly, this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

Priest Andrew Phillips

St John the Wonderworker Church

St Moses the Black
Sunday 28 August/10 September 2006

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