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Church Bulletin: December 28, 2014

posted Dec 29, 2014, 12:53 PM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
December 28, 2014- Sunday After Nativity
This Week's Services and Events

January 3, Saturday
        + Great Vespers, 5:00PM

January 4, Sunday, Sunday before Theophany
        +Matins, 8:45AM
        + Divine Liturgy, 10:00AM, followed by fellowship hour and Sunday School
Upcoming Events and Announcements  

No Akathist, Friday Matins or Office Hours this Week-
        There will be no akathist service this Wednesday due to New Year's Eve.  Come to liturgy at St. George in Cedar Rapids at 5:00PM instead.  See below.  Also, Fr. Ignatius will not be serving matins or holding office hours this Friday.

Change in Saturday Vespers Schedule-
        Beginning January 3, vespers will start at 5:00PM.  It will end at about 6:15PM.  We will no longer begin with 9th Hour.  Come and immerse yourself in what the Church has to offer by making it to vespers more often.

Becoming Truly Human Series, Beginning January 10-
       We have a unique opportunity to participate in an exciting series of classes called "Becoming Truly Human."  On Saturday, January 10 from 10:00AM-2:00PM, we begin with a training session led by Adam Roberts, the project coordinator from our Archdiocese.  It is very important to make this first session. Following, we will meet for six consecutive weeks on Saturdays from 3:00PM-4:45PM.  Come to as many of these later sessions as you are able.  Please plan to participate in this series so that we may become better equipped to honor our patron, St. Raphael, during this centennial year of his repose, by being more knowledgeable about our faith so that we can be more outreach-minded. 

St. Basil the Great/Circumcision of the Lord Liturgy at St. George-
        Are you looking for something different to do on New Year's Eve?  You are invited to St. George Church in Cedar Rapids (3650 Cottage Grove Ave. SE) for liturgy at 5:00PM to celebrate both St. Basil the Great and the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord, both of which the Church commemorates on January 1.

Feasting Following the Fast-
        Our pre-Nativity fast concluded on the evening of December 24.  In honor of the Lord's Nativity, there is no fasting (even on Wednesdays and Fridays) from December 25 through January 4.  Enjoy and celebrate!

Theophany Services-
       Theophany, the celebration of the Baptism of Christ, will be recognized in the following manner this year.  We have Royal Hours at 9:00AM on Monday, January 5 and Vesperal Liturgy at 6:00PM that day.  On Tuesday, January 6, we will have matins at 8:30AM and Liturgy at 10:00AM.

Save the Date!- January 10 Outdoor Blessing of the Waters-
        We are hosting clergy and faithful from surrounding Orthodox parishes at a pan-Orthodox Outdoor Blessing of the Waters service as a part of the Feast of Theophany.  Join us at the IRP Dam Pedestrian Bridge (near Iowa River Power Restaurant at 501 1st Avenue, Coralville) at 4:00PM on Saturday, January 10.  Following the brief service, we will gather at church for pan-Orthodox vespers at 5:00PM followed by a potluck meal that we will provide for our guests.

Nativity Letters of Metropolitan Joseph and Patriarch John-

2015 Annual Calendars Now Available-
        Calendars showing the daily saints and scripture readings, along with fasting days and seasons, are now available in the narthex to take home.  Take one or take several.

St. Maria's Bread House-
        If you're interested helping in any way with Vespers in Kalona, whether it's just being there, helping find or buy liturgical supplies, or singing, please contact Amy or Father. If you'd like to buy beeswax tealight candles--great stocking stuffers recycled from St. Raphael's candle stubs--to support the Bread House, let Amy know at kalonabreadhouse@gmail.com, or visit our website: stmariasbreadhouse.org

We Need a Volunteer to Coordinate New Flower Memorial Program-
        We all miss our departed loved ones and it is comforting to us to memorialize them in some way.  Beginning in 2015, we are going to have a weekly sign-up sheet available which will give people the opportunity to purchase a bouquet of flowers through the church, in memory of departed loved ones.  The donor's name, and the name(s) of their memorialized departed loved ones will be printed in the weekly emailed bulletin.  In order to organize this new effort to both remember our loved ones and beautify the nave of our church with more flowers, we need a volunteer who can approach a local florist to arrange a relationship which will facilitate such a program.  This person will also be responsible for picking up the bouquets of flowers and bringing them to church each week that somebody has arranged to have loved ones memorialized.  If this task interests you, please speak with Fr. Ignatius.

St. Raphael Sermon Series Beginning January 4-
       Since 2015 is the centennial of the repose of our patron St. Raphael of Brooklyn, Fr. Ignatius will start the year preaching an eight week sermon series on Sundays during liturgy, focusing on the titles we ascribe to St. Raphael in his troparion.
1. Adornment of the Holy Church
2. Champion of the True Faith
3. Seeker of the Lost
4. Consolation of the Oppressed
5.  Father to Orphans and Friend of the Poor
6. Peacemaker and Good Shepherd
7. Joy of all the Orthodox
8. Son of Antioch/Boast of America

A Different Approach to House Blessings in 2015-
       The time between Theophany (January 6) and the beginning of Lent (this year, February 23) is traditionally, the time for Orthodox priests to do house blessings.  Fr. Ignatius will be doing house blessings during this time.  However, he is going to be contacting all parishioners directly, and scheduling a time to come and bless.  It is not necessary to feed the priest when he visits!  However, you are encouraged to invite others from the parish to your home during the blessing.  Let us renew our social bonds and forge new friendships during this season.

Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festival-
       Each year, our diocese offers two different competitions for teens (and one for adults), held at the Parish Life Conference.  The 2015 Parish Life Conference will be held in Grand Rapids, MI in June.  Teens from our parish have participated in and done very well in the Bible Bowl is recent years, winning trophies each time they have competed.  Instead of focusing on one book of the Bible, the 2015 Bible Bowl will focus on the life of our patron, St. Raphael of Brooklyn, as found in the book "Our Father Among the Saints Raphael Bishop of Brooklyn: Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America" published by Antakya Press.  This theme was chosen by Metropolitan Philip before his repose, because 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the repose of St. Raphael.  Fr. Ignatius challenges teens (ages 13-19) to form a team and study and compete.  Adults can form a team as well.  We can win this at the diocesan level and go on to compete on the archdiocesan level!  In addition, if giving speeches is your thing (teens only), consider writing a speech for the Oratorical Festival, the theme of which is also the life of St. Raphael.  Information is posted in the narthex.  Talk to Fr. Ignatius if you would like to learn more.

Thoughts on Stewardship and Giving-
        Mark 12: 41-44 … “Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself, and said to them, ‘ Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
Next Sunday's Gospel Reading-
        St. John Chrysostom urges Christians to preview the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading so that it may be fresh in your minds when you hear it next
The reading for Sunday, January 4 is:

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes He Who is mightier than I, the strap of Whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  (Mark 1:1-8)

Pray for our Catechumens-
       Please keep our catechumens: Ilya Buchkin, Rob Bergenstock and Daniel Welsh in your prayers as they prepare to be sacramentally joined to the Orthodox Church.
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 heard from.  Please pray for their well being and release and also pray for their captors as well.  One priest is also missing, having been kidnapped. 

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

Coffee Hour-
       The St. Nicholas team will bring food to share and will clean-up the fellowship hall on Sunday January 4. 

Food for Thought-

The world has evidently not yet awoken from its slumber, from what is happening in the Middle East, and in Syria in particular.  The world has not yet heard, and seems not to want to hear, the wailing of the broken-hearted.  The world trusts rather in the language of determination, and is satisfied with well-crafted statements.  The world does not want to see the effects of terrorism, takfirism, abduction, destruction of historical monuments, and dismemberment of a united country.  The world seems to overlook the repercussions of the crisis in Syria in its neighboring countries. It seems that the voices of Antiochians calling for the release of the two kidnapped Metropolitans of Aleppo: John and Paul, have fallen on deaf ears. But none of this frightens us, because we are coupled with this land; we are planted in it, and it remains our permanent abode.  All our difficulties do we cast before the loving manger of Jesus, Who chose the land of the Orient, to be the ambassador of His love to the universe.

Patriarch John X, excerpt from Nativity Letter 2014