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Church Bulletin: December 2, 2012

posted Dec 4, 2012, 2:52 PM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
December 2, 2012- Twenty Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
This Week's Services and Events
Dec 3, Monday
        + Teen SOYO dinner and book club, 6:30PM
Dec 4, Tuesday,
        + 3rd Hour Prayers, 9AM
        + Free Lunch Program volunteering, 11:30AM-1:30PM at Wesley Center
Dec 5, Wednesday
        + Vesperal Liturgy for St. Nicholas, 6PM
Dec 6, Thursday
        + OCF compline and discussion, 7PM
Dec 7, Friday
        + Matins, 8:30AM

Dec 8, Saturday
        + 9th Hour/Great Vespers, 6PM

Dec 9, Sunday, The Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos
        + Matins, 8:45AM
        + Divine Liturgy, 10AM followed by Sunday School and coffee hour

Upcoming Events and Announcements
Annual Voters' Meeting Results-
        Tariel Berimeladze was elected to a three year term on the parish council and Jeremy Coffin was appointed to a three year term as well. We discussed and approved our 2013 budget. Thank you to all who stayed and participated.
Vesperal Liturgy for St. Nicholas-
        On Wednesday, December 5 at 6PM, we will celebrate St. Nicholas with a Vesperal Liturgy. Please plan to attend in order to commemorate this wonderful saint!
Sunday December 9 is Chanter/Choir Appreciation Sunday in our Archdiocese-
        Our choir is one of the strengths of our parish. Let us take the time, next Sunday, to express our appreciation to all of those who sing in the choir. They help us to pray and worship by singing the wonderful and beautiful words of the Liturgy and other services.
St. George Church-Cedar Rapids Iconostasis Installation-
        Fr. Fred Shaheen and the parishioners of St. George Church in Cedar Rapids invite you to a special banquet on Sunday, December 9 at 5:30PM to celebrate the installation of their new stone-carved iconostasis and to honor the sculptor Suleiman Shalhoub who will be present. A $15 donation per adult guest is suggested, children are free. A poster advertising the event is attached. Reservations are required. Call JoEllen at 319-377-8367 to place your reservation.
2013 Liturgical Calendars Now Available-
        The 2013 liturgical calendars showing daily Scripture readings, saints of the days, feasts and fasts are now available to pick up in the narthex of church.
Upcoming Teen SOYO Events-
        The Teen SOYO group will meet at 6PM on Monday, December 3 for dinner and Book Group. They will also be going to the movies on Sunday, December 16 to see the new Hobbit movie.
Vesperal Liturgy for St. Ignatius-
        On Wednesday, December 19 at 6PM, we will remember St. Ignatius of Antioch with a Vesperal Liturgy. Please plan to attend.
Church Cookbook Fundraiser-
        Thanks to all who have shown so much interest in the publication of our church cookbook. (1) If you’re on Twitter, please follow @EastWestMidwest. (2) Also email new ethnic recipes to Amy Spencer soon at eastwestmidwest@gmail.com. Americans can provide these too, such as old family recipes from Europe. (Recipes should not be straight out of a cookbook.) (3) If you or a friend would like to test a recipe or two (or more!), let Amy know as soon as possible at eastwestmidwest@gmail.com. It’s easy!
Nativity Fast-
        For Orthodox Christians, the weeks leading up to Christmas are a time of spiritual preparation, a time of repentance, and time of almsgiving. In anticipation of the coming of our King Jesus as a babe in the manger, we fast from meat, dairy, eggs throughout the forty days leading up to the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord; and fish, wine and oil on some of the days. For specifics, consult the printed November/December calendar available at church or check it online at: http://www.straphaelorthodoxchurch.org/schedule If you have any questions about the Orthodox practice of fasting, please speak with Fr. Ignatius. Metropolitan Philip has given a dispensation from the fast to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving.
Non-Perishable Food Donations-
        We collect food all year round for the Crisis Center food pantry. The collection box is located under one of the tables in the narthex. As we enter into the Nativity fast, let us also keep almsgiving in mind. There are many people in our community who do not have enough food.
Nativity Services-
        December 24- Royal Hours, 9AM; Vesperal Liturgy, 6PM
        December 25- Matins, 8:30AM; Liturgy, 10AM
Decorating for Nativity Season-
Anyone who would like to bring poinsetta plants to decorate around the iconostasis or evergreen boughs for our window ledges in the nave should plan to bring them on Sunday, December 23.
Christmas Caroling-
        If you would like to participate in singing or at least listen to joyful Christmas carols at the church, you are invited to come on Sunday December 30, 7-8PM. Refreshments will be available afterward. Please save the date!
Introduction to Orthodoxy Classes Will Begin in January-
        Fr. Ignatius is planning on holding seven, weekly Introduction to Orthodoxy classes begining after the first of the year. We will plan a schedule that fits best with the schedules of those participating. If you are new to Orthodoxy and want to learn more, or if you have been in the faith for awhile and would like a refresher course, you are welcome to attend. Please contact Fr. Ignatius if you are interested.
House Blessing Season is Right Around the Corner-
        Fr. Ignatius will be making the rounds to your homes during the time between the Feast of Theophany (January 6) and the beginning of Lent (March 17). A sign-up sheet will be posted soon in the narthex.
It Is Not Enough to Be Fans of the Elders-
        If you would like to read a good article on the popularity surrounding certain modern elders of the faith, go to:
A Profile on an American Orthodox Monastery-
        To read an interesting magazine article on the Hermatage of the Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, Co. West Virgina, go to: http://www.wvliving.com/Winter-2012/Moments-at-the-Monastery/
Evangelism Bible Verse-
This week's verse: "For the wages of sin is death, but te gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Do You Have a Prayer Request?
        Please give it to Fr. Ignatius and he will distribute it by email to all those on the Prayer Chain. If you wish to join the Prayer Chain, please let Fr. Ignatius know.
Choir Leadership-
        During the weekend of December 8-9, Lori Branch will be leading the choir.
Holy Bread-
        On Sunday, December 9, the holy bread will be provided by the Padath family. Thank you in advance. Anyone who would like to provide the holy bread may sign up to do so for future weeks. Please check the sign-up sheet in the narthex.
Coffee Hour-
        On Sunday December 9, the food for coffee hour will be provided by the St. Raphael team.

Church Cleaning-
               During the week following Sunday December 2, the cleaning of the nave, narthex, bookstore/library, stairs, nursery and bathrooms will be provided by the St. Nina team.
Food for Thought-
Contemplating the blessings of the Advent season, at times we ponder whether we have lost our blessings to the material world in which we live. Surrounded by ostentatious displays of wealth and unhealthy indulgences, we realize that they are slowly taking the place of more appropriate preparations for the celebration of Christmas. The very foundation of the Christmas Feast is the birth of an unassuming Child born quietly, humbly. The King of Glory was born of a mother who was turned away from every house, in a cave among the animals who could not speak.

Advent is the time of our preparation to meet the Lord of Lords. Certainly, we desire to offer our best gifts to the Christ Child, but they must be gifts of substance - the gifts of prayer, repentance, forgiveness and love. We want to adorn Him with our virtues.

In the words of King David, “A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise.” Advent gives us the opportunity to offer Him hearts that were broken but now healed, minds that were filled with turmoil now at peace and bodies once diseased now whole and healthy. These are the gifts that He desires of us – our entire person healed, changed and renewed through the despising and renouncing of sin.

Making the effort of fasting, heightened prayer and almsgiving during Advent prepare us to receive the Christ Child. How will He recognize us as His own if we are stained with pride, self-love and the stench of un-repented sin? Meanwhile, when we repent truly and deeply, through our tears and His mercy, our sins are washed away and we are purified. He accepts us with great joy and is well pleased.

Advent is the time of year prescribed by the Holy Orthodox Church as an opportunity for renewal, for a re-dedication of our lives to Him. Just as He was born to give His life for us, so, too we renew ourselves and are born in the Spirit. In so doing, we offer ourselves to God just as our Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself for us on the Cross.

While we speak of the birth of Christ, we remember His offering on the Cross. Just as Advent is the foreshadowing of Great Lent, one is the preparation for the joy of the Resurrection and the other lays the groundwork for the same event through His Incarnation. We are reminded that Christ was first born incarnate and then resurrected. We follow that example, seizing the opportunity for spiritual renewal.

Repentance in any moment gives us the gift of renewal. After Baptism, repentance through confession and liberating ourselves from sin, places us in a restored state and now properly prepared to experience the true joy of the Feast of the Nativity.

As my beloved in Christ, I urge you not to be ‘distracted with much serving’ as was Martha during Jesus’ visit. In gratitude for all that He has blessed you with, “choose the good part which will not be taken from you”. This Advent, make a change and prepare the best gift possible for the Greatest Guest. Prepare yourselves in order to receive the true joy of this Holy Season - the realization that the Savior is born within you.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Archbishop Joseph, Antiochian Diocese of Los Angeles and the West

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