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Church Bulletin: December 25, 2016

posted Dec 26, 2016, 10:26 AM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
December 25, 2016- The Nativity of Christ

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

 This Week's Services and Events

December 27, Tuesday
        + Office Hours, 1:15PM-2:45PM
        + 9th Hour Prayers, 3:00PM

December 28, Wednesday
        + Akathist, 7:00PM

December 29, Thursday
        + Office Hours, 1:15-2:45PM

December 31, Saturday
        + Great Vespers, 5:00PM 

January 1, Circumcision of Christ and St. Basil the Great
        + Matins, 8:45AM
        + Divine Liturgy, 10:00AM followed by Coffee Hour

Upcoming Events and Announcements-       

Sunday School Holiday Break-
        There will be no Sunday School on December 25 or January 1.  We will resume on January 8. 

Feasting After the Fast-
        This season of joy as we continue the celebration of the Lord's Nativity means there is no fasting through January 4.  Bon appetit!

IOCC Relief Aid for Syria-
        The level of human suffering seems to continue to increase, due to the ongoing war in Syria.  Please keep the Syrian people in your prayers, and if you can donate to IOCC, please do so.  https://www.iocc.org/where-we-work/syria

2017 Annual Calendars Are Here-
        The Church provides free calendars showing the daily saints and Scripture readings, plus the major feasts and fasting times of the church year.  The 2017 version is here and available for you to take.  Take one or take a couple, as many as you will use.  

January-February Calendars Available-
       Calendars showing services and other events for the next two months are available to pick up in the narthex.

Christmas Letter From Hannah-
         Following is a letter Hannah Valentine sent to the parish.  
"Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,     
Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

        'The Dayspring from on high has visited us.'- Luke 1:78.  What wondrous words the Holy Spirit spoke through Zacharias, the father of the last great prophet, John the Baptist.    I have never heard this word 'dayspring' used anywhere but in the Gospel of Luke.  What else can be compared to the marvel that takes place on Christmas day?  This Light that has come into the world, this Sun shining out from a little cave, is the Word made flesh for our salvation.  In the joyful spirit of the feast, I greet you all and offer a short report of the life of an almost-novice in Arizona.
        Winter is bringing its changes to the desert, but with more subtlety than I'm used to.  Colder nights mean bundling up in a sweater and gloves for the outside portion of our prayer rule, but they also mean brighter stars to gaze at.  Snow sits picturesquely on Mt. Graham, while down here, cacti beam happily and the butterflies visit the last remaining flowers.  The leaves from the few deciduous trees we have are only now falling in great numbers.  Outside, conditions remain pleasant enough that a group of the sisters have been outside all day for about a week, installing our new solar panels, a process, I'm told, which began back at the beginning of Lent.  I might never have to drive through the snow again, although, since the sisters don't let me drive anything yet, I suppose that's not really an issue.  I've been working in the backroom of the bookstore, where the only harm I can do is finish a prayer rope with the wrong kind of cross or stuff a box with too many airbags.  In addition to this and cleaning up in the trapeza after meals, the abbess blessed me to be the back-up reader for the Compline service each night.  This would seem simple enough, except that the main reader, like all the sisters, has an uncanny ability to disappear in a moment's notice.  She might be at dinner, and somehow, in the span of time it takes us to walk back to the church, she's gone.  But this keeps me watchful, which after all, is an important part of our work in the spiritual life.
        Shortly after our Old Calendar Christmas, will be the official sixth month mark of my arrival here at the monastery.  Months back, when two of my friends who live nearby were staying at the monastery for a week, one of them saw the paper I used to keep track of the prayer knots I make each week.  She asked, "What's that?  Are you making a tally mark for every day you've survived so far?"  I thought it was pretty funny.  But I couldn't be more at peace with where I am.  The desire for monasticism which I hid in my heart for the past six years grows ever sweeter.  I am convinced that your prayers for me make this possible, for each day brings its struggles.  As my abbess said to me, "The Enemy's attacks rain on the monk in full force.  In the world, the battles are usually more diluted.  Every Christian must 'take up his cross' for his salvation.  The monk nails himself to this cross." We plan to make a trip to St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox men's monastery outside Phoenix for my official "clothing" as a novice shortly after Christmas.
        Bittersweet memories of singing "The Virgin Cometh Today" with the beautiful choir, helping the children dress up for their Christmas play, and breaking the fast in fellowship with you all press on my heart.  I miss each and every person more than I can describe in words.  But the surety of your brotherly love for one another convinces me that St. Raphael Church will continue to offer the same care and healing presence it offered me, to all who walk through its doors.  Continue the work set before you in the fear of God, and rest your hope in our Dayspring from on high.  With the Apostle Paul, I pray for you all: "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God"- Eph. 3:16-19.  Please pray for me.

In Christ,

Serve on a Short-term Mission-
        OCMC Mission Teams need volunteers in 2017.  There are openings for hard workers in Albania, Guatemala, Kenya, Indonesia, Alaska and Mexico.   Details are available on the OCMC website www.ocmc.org.   Please consider these opportunities to serve in missions.

Honor Bishop Anthony for His Birthday and Name day-
        Bishop Anthony celebrates both his birthday and name day on January 17.  One of the efforts he has organized in our diocese is the creation of a speaker's fund, so that he can invite in speakers that will benefit the churches and people in his diocese.  The Midwest Antiochian Women's organization is once again heading up an effort to collect donations that will go to this fund with the intent that the funds be collected by January 6, so that special birthday and name day greetings can be sent from each donor to the bishop in time for January 17.  Cards with this information on them are available in the narthex, if you would like to participate.  

Scheduling Annual House Blessings-
        Fr. Ignatius would like to come to all church member's homes between Theophany (January 6) and the beginning of Lent (February 27) for a house blessing.  If there is a specific day and time you would like Father to come, please contact him and let him know.  If he doesn't hear from you, he will contact you and schedule a time.  

Food for All - Kalona
        Please continue to pray for our Orthodox-style, community-style charity work. Our Sunday Supper and Movie Nights are happening twice monthly until summer. Also, we hope to restart Kalona Vespers in the new year. Also please ask our Lord to draw people to Himself and His Church through all our programs. Visit our website at foodforallkalona.weebly.com. For more info, email me at foodforallkalona@gmail.com.  Thanks! Amy Spencer

Save the Dates!-
        We will host Anthony Bashir and Richard Robbat again for the second and final round of their leadership development training on February 17-18.  Like last time, it will be a Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon schedule.  If you participated last time, please plan to be involved again.  But even if you didn't participate last time, we welcome you and encourage you to get involved.  

Orthodox Christian Fellowship-
        Our OCF is taking some time off during winter break.  They will resume in late January.  

Next Sunday's Gospel Reading-
        And it came to pass that the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was  upon Him. Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing Him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when they saw Him they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why hast Thou treated us so? Behold, Thy father and I have been looking for Thee anxiously.” And Jesus said to them, “How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which He spoke to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.  (Luke 2:20-21, 40-52)

Pray for our Catechumens-
       Please keep our catechumens Anna Baynton and Ilya Buchkin in your prayers as they prepare to be sacramentally joined to the Orthodox Church.

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. 
Remember Your Departed Loved Ones With Flowers-
        Would you like to memorialize your departed loved ones with a bouquet of flowers to be placed in the church on the weekend of your choice?  Look for the new Memorial sign-up sheet.  Decide what weekend you would like your loved one(s) remembered, give $25 to the church, clearly marking it for "Memorial Flowers" and your loved one(s) will be mentioned during the Great Entrance prayers and in the weekly bulletin.  If your departed loved ones are Orthodox, and you would like Trisagion Prayers for the Departed to be offered at the end of Liturgy, you can indicate that on the sign-up sheet as well.

Keep Praying for Kidnapped Orthodox Bishops in Syria-
       Since April 22, 2013, the Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Metropolitan Paul, and the Syriac Metropolitan of Aleppo, Youhanna, have been in captivity and have not been heard from.  Please pray for their well being and release and also pray for their captors as well.

Food for Thought-

In this day the Lord exchanged glory for shame, as being humble; because Adam changed the truth for unrighteousness as being a rebel: the Good One had mercy on him, justified and set right them that had turned aside.

Let every man chase away his weariness, since that Majesty was not wearied with being in the womb nine months for us, and in being thirty years in Sodom among the madmen.

Because the Good One saw that the race of man was poor and humbled, He made feasts as a treasure-house, and opened them to the slothful, that the feast might stir up the slothful one to rise and be rich.

Lo! The First-born has opened unto us His feast as a treasure-house. This one day in the whole year alone opens that treasure-house: come, let us make gain, let us grow rich from it, ere they shut it up.

St. Ephraim the Syrian, from "Hymns on the Nativity, #4"