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Church Bulletin: September 21, 2014

posted Sep 22, 2014, 8:53 PM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
September 21, 2014- The Leavetaking of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross
This Week's Services and Events

September 23, Tuesday
        + Vesperal Liturgy for St. Thekla, 6:00PM

September 24, Wednesday
        +  Akathist, 7:00PM

September, 25, Thursday
        + OCF compline, 7:00PM

September 26, Friday
        + Matins, 8:30AM
        + Father's Office Hours, 9:30AM-11:30AM

September 27, Saturday
        + Teen SOYO trip to Wilson's Orchard, 11:00AM-2:00PM
        + 9th Hour/Great Vespers, 6:00PM

September 28, Sunday
        +Matins, 8:45AM
        + Divine Liturgy, 10:00AM, followed by fellowship hour and Sunday School
Upcoming Events and Announcements   

Voters' Meeting Results-
       Our voting members voted to direct the left over money from our fundraising for our sign lettering, toward getting a cross put up on the building.

Teen SOYO-
       Our teens will enjoy some time at Wilson's Apple Orchard at 11AM on Saturday, September 27.

Thank You-
       Thank you to those who prepared food, who packed the food and who staffed our Farmer's Market table this weekend.

Liturgies for St. Thekla-
       St. Thekla, the first female martyr, is an important saint in our archdiocese and for all Christians of the Middle East.  We will have a vesperal liturgy to commemorate her at 6PM on September 23.  If you miss this liturgy, there will be another for St. Thekla at 9AM on September 24 at St. George Church in Cedar Rapids.  All are welcome.   

Gaza Emergency: Iowa City Responds-
       St. Raphael Church is co-sponsoring a fundraising event titled "Gaza Emergency: Iowa City Responds" on Friday, September 26, 6:30PM-8:30PM at Old Brick (26 E. Market St., Iowa City).  For an evening of Middle Eastern food and music a suggested donation of $20 ($15 for students, seniors and low income and $10 for children) is requested.  Please RSVP to dinnergaza@gmail.com or by phone: 319-333-5321.  Proceeds will benefit Gazans by being given to the UN Relief and Works Agency and the International Orthodox Christian Charities. 

Fr. Ignatius Speaking on Icons at Iowa City Public Library-
       Are you looking for an event to invite your non-Orthodox friends to?  Or, do you want to learn more about icons yourself?  On October 6, Fr. Ignatius will be giving a presentation titled "Meeting God Through Icons" at the Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A, at 7PM.  Information can also be found at: www.straphaelorthodoxchurch.org/events

International Orthodox Christian Charities Race to Respond-
       Andrew Ackell, recently moved to Baltimore, is going to be running a half marathon as part of IOCC's Race to Respond fundraiser on October 18.  To learn more about the event and/or learn how to sponsor Andrew in this race, go to: http://www.iocc.org/racetorespond/baltimore/  Clicking on Andrew's name in the right hand column will allow you to see his page and sponsor him.

Save the Date!- St. Raphael Feast Day Services-
       We will celebrate our patron saint, St. Raphael of Brooklyn with services on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1.

Assembly of Bishops Concludes Annual Meeting and Issues Statements-
       Thirty eight bishops representing all of the canonical jurisdictions in the United States met this last week in their annual meeting.  To read their Message to the Faithful and their Statement on the Middle East, go to: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/2014/assembly-of-bishops-issue-message-to-the-faithful-statement-on-middle-east

40 Days for Life-
        From September 24-November 2, churches in our community will join churches in hundreds of other cities participating in 40 Days for Life, a life-saving campaign made up of three components: prayer and fasting, community outreach and peaceful vigil.  40 Days for Life is a peaceful pro-life effort that has been embraced by more than 625,000 volunteers in 539 cities across 24 nations.  The Iowa City vigil will be on the sidewalk at the Emma Goldman Clinic (227 N. Dubuque St.)  For more information, contact Sheryl at 319-855-8475 or director@jcrtl.org or visit www.40daysforlife.com/iowacity    

Plan Ahead for Parking, October 19-
       We have been informed by the Johnson County Sheriff that the annual Run for the Schools will be taking place in our neighborhood and specifically on College St. on Sunday, October 19.  This is a good day to walk or bike to church if possible.  If you need to drive, then the Chauncey Swan parking ramp is your best option.  You will need to enter off of Washington St. as the College St. entrance will be unusable.  Parking is free in the ramp on Sundays.  It is a 3-4 block walk from the ramp to the church.

Fall Clean-up Day, October 25-
       Our semi-annual clean-up day will be Saturday, October 25 from 1PM-4PM.  We will rake the yard (if needed) and clean the interior of the church, getting things ready for our patronal feast day the next weekend.

Informed Choice Medical Clinic Fundraiser Dinner-
       The Iowa City Informed Choices Medical Clinic, which does good work seeking to offer real alternatives to pregnant women who might be inclined to seek an abortion, is having their annual fundraising dinner and program on Tuesday, October 21 at 7PM, at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville.  Dinner is complimentary.  Donations will be accepted.  Please RVSP before October 17.  Online registration is available at www.informedchoiceia.org. 

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-    
          "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."  Luke 6:38

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, September 28 is: At that time, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret.  And He saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.  Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, Jesus asked him to put out a little from the land.  And He sat down and taught the people from the boat.  And when Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!  But at Thy word I will let down the nets.”  And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.  But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”  For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish, which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.”  And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.  (Luke 5:1-11)

Pray for our Catechumens-
       Please keep our catechumens: Ilya Buchkin, Rob Bergenstock 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

Choir Leadership-
       Lori Branch will lead the choir during the weekend of September 27-28.

Coffee Hour-
       The St. John the Baptist team will bring food to share during coffee hour, and clean up the fellowship hall on September 28.

Church Cleaning-
       During the week of September 21-27, the St. Raphael team will clean the nave, narthex, bookstore, stairs, nursery and bathrooms.

Holy Bread-
       For liturgy on Sunday, September 28, the Holy Bread will be provided by the Muste family.  Thank you in advance.

Food for Thought-

"An Orthodox Christian Response to Beheading by Muslims"

I am an unworthy man, unworthy to be called an Orthodox Christian, not to speak of the priesthood, and I write, admittedly, from the comfort of my Mount Pleasant, SC, home.  There is no Mount nearby, but it is, indeed, a pleasant seaside community on the East Coast of the United States.

As such, I ask myself: how to deal with ruthless, pitiless, pitiful souls who are so darkened that their life is spent taking the life of others—and worse, thinking that they are doing this at the direction of and with the blessing of God himself, with eternal reward?

Perhaps I will be criticized for my suggestion, sitting in my pleasant, mountless town, but we read recently that we must receive the Gospel as a child; and even a child will ask how could murder be returned by murder.  Is violence—individual or large-scale—a possible Orthodox response?

What were the apostolic and post-apostolic, and later saint’s reactions to such vicious, vile, demonic actions?

How did the disciples respond to the beheading of John the Baptist, which we commemorated on August 29?

On the precipice of martyrdom, St Stephen, the Proto-martyr begged God to forgive his killers.  Was there an apostolic uprising following that?

Hieromartyr Eutychius, disciple of St John the Theologian, was beheaded after starvation in prison, an attempt to burn him alive, and cruel beatings with iron rods…which were made to cease by his prayers.  There is no account of retribution.

St Ignatius of Antioch instructed his loyal sons-and-daughters in Christ not to impede his march to martyrdom.  “Do not hold me back from life!” was his essential command.

St Lawrence, the Hieromartyr, whose memory we kept in early August, commanded his captors, who had lit him on fire while encaged, to turn him over, since he was “done on that side”.  There is not a record of retaliation.

The Hieromartyr Cyprian of Carthage, whom we remembered in the Church on August 31 was martyred by the sword as well—he, by pagans.  Among his greatest contributions to the Christian faith was the acceptance of repentance of those who had apostatized, abandoned their one true love, Jesus Christ.  He himself, though defending the true repentance of those who did commit apostasy under threat of death, did not betray Christ.  In his Life, we read,

At the trial, St Cyprian calmly and firmly refused to offer sacrifice to idols and was sentenced to beheading with a sword. Hearing the sentence, St Cyprian said, “Thanks be to God!” All the people cried out with one voice, “Let us also be beheaded with him!”

Coming to the place of execution, the saint again gave his blessing to all and arranged to give twenty-five gold coins to the executioner. He then tied a handkerchief over his eyes, and gave his hands to be bound to the presbyter and archdeacon standing near him and lowered his head. Christians put their cloths and napkins in front of him so as to collect the martyr’s blood. St Cyprian was executed in the year 258. The body of the saint was taken by night and given burial in a private crypt of the procurator Macrobius Candidianus.

There is no record of retribution.

Commemorated on August 16, is St Constantine Brancoveanu, the 18th century ruler of Wallachia—the Romanian lands.  St Constantine was held captive on the feast of the Annunication of the Theotokos, March 25, 1714, by Sultan Ahmet III, in Istanbul.  Having been issued a “convert or die” ultimatum, St Constantine Brancoveanu was forced to watch his sons be decapitated (including the youngest, 11 years old, named Matei), prior to his own decapitation by the sword.   Their heads were paraded on pikes, and the bodies (though later recovered by Christians) were thrown into the Bosphorus.  This took place on August 15, 1714, the Dormition of the Theotokos.  Among the saint’s last words were these:

“Your majesty, you have taken my fortune, but I don’t abandon my Christian law.  I was born and lived in it and I want to die in it (=as Christian). I filled the earth of my country with Christian churches and, now, attaining an old age, should I bow to your Turkish mosques? No, your Highness! I defended my land, I kept my faith I want to close my eyes in my faith and my sons together with me”. After that, he encouraged his sons „My children, have courage! I lost everything I had on this earthly world. We have left only our souls, we shall not lose them too, but we shall get them clean before our Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s wash our sins with our blood!”

The saints prayed for their torturers, and relentlessly clung to Christ.  To my knowledge, there are no recorded acts of violence returned for violence. It is the case, however, that with Ss Adrian and Natalia (August 26), one of their captors converted by their stalwart faith.  Was this also not the case with the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste?

“Vengeance is mine,” saith the Lord.

We stand proudly with the martyrs, whose blood is the foundation of the Church.  And we beg God to grant us equal strength when we have to face what they did.

In the meantime, could it be that Western Europe and North America are facing “Islamization” not simply because of the sword, but also because:

They have many children, while we abort ours, or simply have few?

While they are spreading their diabolical teachings, we appear unconvicted by the True Faith?

Rather than bolstering a unified voice and front, Orthodox Christians are re-trenching into ethnic enclaves?

Rather than giving generously to further the work of the church, and to forgive as remarkably as we have been forgiven, Orthodox Christians remain tight fisted and petty?

Every single field is white for the harvest.  Will we bear witness to the truth in both our way of life and our way of death?