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Church Bulletin: December 7, 2014

posted Dec 8, 2014, 10:35 AM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
December 7, 2014- Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
This Week's Services and Events

December 9, Tuesday
        + Parish Council meeting, 7:00PM

December 10, Wednesday
        +  Nativity Paraklesis, 7:00PM

December 11, Thursday
        + OCF Compline, 7:00PM

December 12, Friday
        + Matins, 8:30AM
        + Office Hours, 9:30AM-11:30AM

December 13, Saturday
        + Sunday School Christmas play practice, 12:00PM-2:00PM
        + 9th Hour/Great Vespers, 6:00PM

December 14, Sunday, Sunday of the Forefathers of Christ
        +Matins, 8:45AM
        + Divine Liturgy, 10:00AM, followed by fellowship hour and Sunday School and Sunday School Christmas Play
Upcoming Events and Announcements   

Annual Voters' Meeting Results-
       We discussed our greeter program, and  also finding better ways to make sure our Sunday School students are getting food after liturgy.  We spoke a lot about being more outreach and missionary minded.  We discussed and passed our budget after a few modifications.  We elected Newman Abuissa to a three year term on the parish council and Becky Morey was appointed to a three year term on the council.
Next Sunday is Choir Appreciation Sunday-
        The second Sunday of December is always designated as Choir Appreciation Sunday in our archdiocese.  Let us recognize and thank our hard-working, faithful and talented choir members who help our hearts to soar as we worship God.

St. Maria's Bread House-
        Thanks to all who pray for us! We will have our first bread-making event on Monday evening (a Christmas story-telling party) with a nice list of attendees from various walks of life. The board is encouraged with progress on all fronts, from program planning to envisioning to making connections in Kalona. Please share our site with Orthodox and other friends who might be interested in what we do: stmariasbreadhouse.org
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.

Sunday School Christmas Pageant-
        Our Sunday School students will be presenting their second annual Christmas Pageant on Sunday, December 14, following liturgy.  Parents, please make sure you children are present for the upcoming practice on  December 13 (Saturday!) from 12:00PM-2:00PM.

Advent Season Resources and Articles-
        To learn more about this preparatory pre-Nativity season we are in called Advent, go to: http://www.antiochian.org/nativity/pre-feast

Teen SOYO Movie Night-
        Our teens will meet for dinner and a movie at 6:30PM on December 15.

St. Ignatius Liturgy-
        Please plan to celebrate St. Ignatius of Antioch with Vesperal Liturgy at 6:00PM on December 19.

Christmas Caroling-
       Do you like to sing Christmas carols?  Join with a group from church on Sunday afternoon, December 21 to go caroling at two local retirement communities beginning at 2:30PM.  Contact Matthew Arndt for more information.

Church in Need of Olive Oil-
       Do you want to bless the church with a gift of olive oil? We have a continual need for olive oil as we use it in our oil lamps that hang before the icons.  Currently our supplies are low.  We will gladly accept any donations.  Extra Virgin oil is not necessary.  Regular grade oil burns best in the lamps.

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.

"You're Not Doing Better"-
        Is the goal of the Christian life to improve ourselves morally and thus "do better," or is it to unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, allowing Him to transform us.  Fr. Stephen Freeman offers a good meditation on these questions at: http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2014/12/05/youre-not-better/

A Reminder Regarding Confessions-
       Fasting seasons are natural times to schedule a confession.  As you prepare yourself for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the manger, examine yourself and consider if you need to make a confession.  Fr. Ignatius is available after vespers on Saturday evenings, and at other times by appointment.  Repentance is medicine for the soul!

Non-Perishable Food Collection-

       Do you know that St. Raphael Church is always collecting non-perishable food items to donate to the Crisis Center food bank?  Look for the large box underneath one of the tables in the narthex.  Let us remember that many people have less than we do.  The Advent season is a wonderful time to give to those who are in need.

Nativity Fast-
       In preparation for the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord, we began a time of fasting, lasting 40 days, on November 15.  The standard for this fast is a little less stringent than the Lenten fast.  We abstain from meat, eggs and dairy, wine and oil, but wine and oil are permitted on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and fish, wine and oil are permitted on Saturdays and Sundays.  As fasting goes hand-in-hand with repentance, this is a good time to schedule a confession with Fr. Ignatius.  If you have any questions about confession or fasting, please see Fr. Ignatius.

Decorating Church for Christmas-
       In order to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will be decorating the church during the weekend of December 20-21.  We depend on individual donations in order to do this.  We will accept poinsetta plants and evergreen boughs for the nave.  If you would like to provide any of these items, please bring them on that weekend, or make other arrangements with Fr. Ignatius.  We already have a tree which will go in the narthex.

Nativity Services-
       Wednesday, December 24th- Royal Hours, 9:00AM; Vesperal Liturgy, 6:00PM.  Thursday, December 25- Matins, 8:30AM and Liturgy, 10:00AM

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.

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.

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.

Becoming Truly Human Series-
       We have a unique opportunity to participate in an exciting series of classes called "Becoming Truly Human."  Developed by our Archdiocese to be a way for churches to offer a series of basic classes on Christianity to the unchurched and to non-Christians, we are going to first test it out on ourselves in January and February.  We begin with a training session led by Adam Roberts, the project coordinator from our Archdiocese, and then we will meet for six consecutive weeks on Saturdays.  Each session involves snacks/appetizers, a presentation and time for questions and discussion.  Once we go through this program ourselves and offer feedback to the archdiocese, we will likely revisit it again sometime in the future, using it as intended by inviting in others from outside our parish to participate.  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 outreach-minded.  Schedule will be announced soon.

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-    
        "I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit, in the bond of peace. There is one body and one hope, that belongs to your call." (Ephesians 4:1-4)

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, December 14 is: The Lord spoke this parable: “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’  But, one by one, they all began to make excuses.  The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  So the servant came and reported this to his master.  Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’  And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’  For many are called, but few are chosen.”  (Luke 14:16-24)

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. Raphael team will bring food to share and will clean-up the fellowship hall on Sunday December 14. 

Food for Thought-

The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.  He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.

I Kingdoms 2:7-8