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Church Bulletin: July 7, 2013

posted Jul 8, 2013, 7:58 AM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
July 7, 2013- Sunday of All Saints of North America
This Week's Services and Events
July 8, Monday
       + 3rd Hour Prayers, 9AM
       + Office Hours, 9:30AM-11:30AM
July 9, Tuesday
       + Parish Council meeting, 7PM
July 10, Wednesday
        + Akathist, 7PM
July 12, Friday
       + Matins, 8:30AM
July 13, Saturday
        + Farmers Market table, 7:30AM-12PM (Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp)
        + 9th Hour/Great Vespers, 6PM
July 14, Sunday of the Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Council
        + Matins, 8:45AM
        + Liturgy, 10AM, followed by Fellowship Hour
Upcoming Events and Announcements
 July Parish Council Meeting-     
        Our July Parish Council meeting is this Tuesday, July 9 at 7PM.  All are welcome to attend.
Next Farmer's Market is This Saturday, July 13-
       Check the sign-up sheets, and consider how you might help us with our next showing at the Iowa City Farmer's Market on July 13.  This is a way to make our presence known in Iowa City and to contribute to charity.
Bake Sale for Charity at St. John the Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids-
       The Service/Outreach ministry at St. John the Baptist is organizing a bake sale fundraiser for the Catherine McAuley Center (http://www.cmc-cr.org/) on Saturday, July 13, 2013, from 9 AM to 1PM at St. John.  All proceeds will go to benefit the center, which provides housing, food, and tutoring for people in need in the Cedar Rapids area. 
St. George Church, Allentown, PA Asks for Help in Ministering to Syrian Refugees-
       The Allentown, PA area has one of the highest concentrations of Syrian immigrants in America.  As the Syrian civil war continues to batter the country and her people, more and more Syrians are ending up in America, and especially in this area of Pennsylvania.  To learn more about how St. George Church is helping them and the great opportunity they have to help even more, go to: http://www.antiochian.org/allentown-parish-reaches-out-displaced-syrians-lehigh-valley
Vesperal Liturgy for St. Seraphim on July 18-
       Join us for Liturgy at 6PM on Thursday, July 18 as we commemorate the Uncovering of the Relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov.
Teen SOYO Events for July-
       Our teens will meet at 6:30PM on July 15 for dinner and movie night.  On July 29, from 9:45AM-2:30PM, they will be volunteering at the Crisis Center. 
The Saint Who Conquered the Passion of Smoking-
       To read about St. John of Kronstadt, and his struggle with, and eventual conquering of the habit of smoking, go to:http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/07/the-saint-who-conquered-passion-of.html
Do You Have a Smartphone?-
       If so, did you know there are some good, free apps that can be beneficial to our Orthodox faith.  Try out the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Daily Readings app in order to keep up with the saints of the day and the daily Scripture readings.   The Pray Always app is a good digital Orthodox prayer book.  Both the Ancient Faith Radio and Orthodox Christian Network apps provide countless podcasts and Orthodox sacred music.  If we are going to carry smartphones around in our pockets and purses, let's put them to use to help us keep connected to our faith.
With God, All Things Are Possible-
        To read the amazing story of how an Afghani man who was raised in extremist Islam and who worked for the Taliban left all of that and was baptized an Orthodox Christian on Mt. Athos, go to:    http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/06/a-former-taliban-from-afghanistan-is.html
Opportunity to Help a Monastery in Need-
        Recently, the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, an Orthodox monastery in West Virginia experienced a fire in one of its buildings which destroyed the monastery's candle making operation and also the cell and all of the belongings of a nun.  To learn more about this situation and how to help with donations, go to:  http://www.holycross-hermitage.com/  
Are You Wanting to Understand the Political and Religious Situation in Syria?-
       Syria is in the middle of a long, ongoing civil war which has claimed the lives of over 100,000 and wreaked havoc on the country and the region.  As our Archdiocese has ties to Syria, it makes sense for us to understand, at least a little bit, what is going on there politically and religiously, especially insofar as how this all affects our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Syria.  To read some highlights from testimony about the situation in Syria that was given before a US Congressional subcommittee recently, go to:http://araborthodoxy.blogspot.com/2013/06/highlights-of-joint-subcommittee.html  Warning, some of the testimony is graphic.  One important event this article doesn't mention is the bombing that took place very near the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus just after the Patriarch arrived earlier this week.  The Patriarch was unharmed, but several people who were lined up at a Christian-run charity were killed.  Some reports are calling this an assassination attempt on the Patriarch.
An Opportunity to Serve, Be a Greeter-
       Based on responses from the parish survey from a few months ago, the Parish Council has recognized a need to have greeters on duty at church on Sunday mornings.  The greeter's main responsibility will be to make newcomers feel welcome by warmly greeting them, asking them to sign our guestbook and/or newcomer information card, making sure they know bathrooms and coatroom are downstairs and ushering them into the nave of the church.   If you are interested in signing up to be a greeter for a Sunday, there is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board just outside of the bookstore.  On the sheet, is a complete job description for this important position.  If you want our church to be more welcoming to visitors, consider volunteering as a greeter.
Coincidence or Providence?-
       On Wednesday June 26, the US Supreme Court issued two rulings which favored same-sex marriage.  While faithful Orthodox Christians can certainly discuss whether or not it is a good idea for the government to define what is and is not a marriage (since this has no bearing on the truth that marriage is a sacrament that can only involve the union of one man and one woman) we should all be disturbed when sin is exalted and celebrated.  It is worth mentioning that the assigned Epistle reading for this day was from Romans 1 which contains these truths.  "...God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen.  For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."  Our Orthodox lectionary was established many, many centuries ago.  But on this day, when the laws of our land shifted in order to accommodate same-sex marriage, we were reminded of the unchanging truth that homosexual behavior, like heterosexual behavior that is not within the context of marriage, is sin.  Still, we must always strive to be compassionate and loving to all, knowing that the Church must remain a hospital for the sick, and that we all struggle with various sins that we need to be healed from.  The only unforgiveable sin is refusing to repent and thus, "grieving the Holy Spirit."
Soothing Words for When the World Seems So Troubled-
       When wars rage, when Christians are persecuted, when poverty, abortion, abuse and all manner of injustice and evil seems to surround us, it may be easy to become bitter, cynical, downcast or even despairing.  As Christians, we must not ignore evil, but we also must put things in perspective.  We have the joy and peace of Christ.  We know that Christ has secured His victory over sin and death which becomes our victory over sin and death.  There is always hope.  In this vein, we would do well to contemplate what St. Paul writes to the Philippians, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things" (Phil 4:8).
Highlighting a Worthy Orthodox Charity-
       The Book of Hebrews says, "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works..." (Hebrews 10:24).  In that spirit, please be aware of the wonderful ministry of FOCUS North America (www.focusnorthamerica.org).  Whereas International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) focuses on international relief work, FOCUS is an organization working to relieve poverty and to otherwise minister to the physical and spiritual needs to individuals right here in America.  In order to give you an idea of what this relatively new ministry has been able to accomplish, here are some facts taken from their recently released annual report.
- 50 million people live below the poverty line in America and nearly twice that amount are barely above the poverty line- most of the adults who are poor are employed
- In 2012, FOCUS volunteers served 51,024 meals.  In 2013, it is projected they will serve 120,000 meals.
- In 2012, FOCUS volunteers trained/employed 562 people.  In 2013, it is projected they will train/employ 1,100 people.
- In 2012, FOCUS volunteers distributed 128,030 articles of clothing.  In 2013, it is projected they will distribute 513,000 articles of clothing.
-In 2012, FOCUS volunteers helped house 408 people.  In 2013, it is projected they will help house 1,050.
- FOCUS is actively ministering in 32 American cities.
- 92% of public donations go directly to helping those in need.
It is the responsibility of the Church to provide for the needs of those who cannot provide for themselves.  We have largely abdicated our responsibility and thus, our government has stepped in to fill the gap.  Let us, as God's people, strive to redouble our efforts to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and visit the sick and imprisoned and to demonstrate to our society that we love our fellow human beings and are concerned not only with their spiritual needs, but with their physical needs as well.  FOCUS is one worthy effort to do just that.  To learn more about them, go to www.focusnorthamerica.org and/or page through their annual report which is posted on one of the bulletin boards near the coatroom in the basement of church. 
Archdiocesan Financial Information Available for Viewing-
       If you are interested to see our Archdiocese's most recent financial statement and/or to look at the proposed budget which will be voted on at the Archdiocese Convention later in July, this information is contained in a booklet which is on one of the tables in the narthex.
Keep Praying for Kidnapped Orthodox Bishops in Syria-
       Since April 22, the Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Metropolitan Paul, and the Syriac Metropolitan of Aleppo, Youhanna, have been in captivity and not heard from.  Please pray for their well being and release and also pray for their captors as well. 
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.
Coffee Hour-
        On Sunday July 14, the food for coffee hour and the clean-up of the fellowship hall will be provided by the St. Raphael team.
Holy Bread-
       On Sunday July 14, the holy bread will be provided by the Branch/Peterson family.  Thank you in advance.
Choir Leadership-
       During the weekend of July 13-14, the choir will be lead by Kristi Abuissa.
Food for Thought-
Excerpts from "On the Matter of Metropolitan Boulos (Yazigi)" by Archimandrite Touma Bitar, abbot of the Monastery of St. Silouan- Douma
Note: Fr. Touma is referring to the April 22 kidnapping of Metropolitan Boulos (Paul), archbishop of Aleppo, Syria
As for us, the Church, for a member of us, a brother among us, or a bishop to be subjected to what Metropolitan Boulos was subjected to, this is a trial for us, a signal, and a prophecy from God. All of us are concerned, without exception! We are members of each other so long as we belong to the body of Christ! If one among us is not in pain, as though he is not concerned with what happened, then his feeling in Christ is dead and he does not belong to Christ’s Church, neither in spirit nor in truth! Members that do not feel the pain of another member have been enveloped in death! In such a case, we must repent before time passes us by! Those who do not repent in order to recover their sensitivity to other members and the world die before they die. Those among us who are only concerned with a political reading of the incident and that the Christians are in danger and so flee or stir up panic in the hearts of the faithful for their own interests are strangers to God. They neither know how to read the mind of Christ nor how to meditate on God’s purposes in sowing Christians in these lands. We were sown here not so that we could be one tribe among the tribes of the earth, but so that we might be witnesses to God, the aroma of Christ, so that we might spread love, service, humility, patience, meekness, and joy in this region. We do not belong to ourselves! We are God’s! We abide as witnesses to the truth! As sheep! As a blessing! We speak of God’s glory and spread news of His works! This is why the kidnapping of Metropolitan Boulos comes as a trial, on an existential level. We will pass it through zeal for God’s house or we will fail it through heedlessness to this house! [...]
The kidnapping of the beloved Metropolitan Boulos, among many events these days, is a prophecy that it will no longer be possible for us to remain in Christ’s Church without exertion, sacrifice, and blood! Where the faithful do not choose to follow in the work of love, the Lord God imposes upon them, out of love, a situation of suffering, hardship, and death! All those who do not wish to sacrifice themselves for Christ will be cut off! Our hearts are hardened and we no longer hear! We only have one last chance left: to hear through pain! The Lord’s Christ wants us, for His joy, unto salvation. And so the power of the word has waned and the shriek of pain cries out! The Middle East burns and the whole world boils! Where are we going? We no longer have any place on earth where we are untouched by worry. Either we bear the cross of Christ and live or we bear the cross of the world and die! There is no more running away from facing the dues of our wallowing in our sins, our individualism, and our heedlessness!
As for our beloved Metropolitan Boulos, God has His own timing, to which no one can add or subtract!