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From the weekly bulletin (week of 12/21/2008)

posted Dec 22, 2008, 8:36 PM by Arian Kulp

Nativity Letter from Bishop MARK


Dear to God,

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord, proclaiming the present mystery; for He hath broken the middle wall of partition, and the flaming spear shall turn about, and the cherubim shall admit all to the tree of life. As for me, I shall return to enjoy the bliss of paradise from which I was driven away before, by reason of iniquity, for the likeness of the Father, and the person of His eternity, which it is impossible to change, hath taken the likeness of a Servant, taken from a Mother who has not known wedlock; free from transubstantiation, since He remained as He was, True God, and took what had not been, having become Man for His love for mankind. Wherefore, let us lift our voices up to Him crying, O Thou who wast born of the Virgin, O God, have mercy upon us.

Have a blessed Feast of the Nativity and a Joyous New Year!

Yours in Christ,
+ MARK
Bishop of Toledo and the Diocese of the Midwest

Upcoming Services

On December 24, Christmas Eve, we will have Royal Hours at 9AM, and Vesperal Liturgy at 6PM. On Christmas day, December 25, we will have Matins at 8:45 and Liturgy at 10AM. On December 31, we will have Vesperal Liturgy for St. Basil the Great at 6PM.

News on Fundraising

For the latest up-to-date totals on our fundraising, go to the Capital Campaign page. A downloadable copy of our fundraising material is also available on this page. This is an easy way to get the word out about our effort. Sending this link to family and friends will help us get information to more people in a quicker fashion. We continue to proceed with our fundraising and to date, we have about $99,000 dedicated to purchasing our building. We pray that we will be in a position to complete the purchase by January 25. Our goal is $275,000.

New Look on our Church Website

Thanks to our webmaster, Arian Kulp, our website, has a new look and some added material. In addition to the Capital Campaign material, including the updated donation totals mentioned above, you can view a slide show with photos from Bishop Mark's recent visit.

Daily Akathist Prayers for our Building Purchase

We are organizing daily Akathist prayers, to be said in our homes through the entire time we are preparing to purchase our new building, until January 25th. We recognize our need to rely on God through this process, and ask for his wisdom and guidance, and through the various Akathist prayers (booklets of which are available at church) we ask the Lord for this and ask the saints to pray for this on our behalf. A sign-up sheet is posted a church. Two slots are listed for each day. Will you join us in prayer so that all that we do with regard to this building opportunity would be pleasing to God?

Church Decoration

The church is accepting donations of poinsettia plants to beautify our worship space during this Advent season and beyond. If you would like to purchase a plant and bring it to church between now and Christmas, we would be most grateful. We have space for about 8 plants.

Office Hours

Father Ignatius will not have office hours this week on Wednesday or Thursday due to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.

Sunday January 4 Liturgy

We will not have services at St. Raphael on Sunday, January 4. Please plan on attending at St. George in Cedar Rapids. Fr. Ignatius will be there along with Fr. Peter Gillquist. After concelebrating the Liturgy, Fr. Peter will give a presentation on Orthodox missions and also make a special appeal on behalf of our Capital Campaign to the faithful at St. George Church. This will be a good opportunity to renew friendships with those at our mother parish, or to visit there for the first time. Attend Liturgy in Cedar Rapids so we can let our friends at St. George know we are here.

Many Years

Congratulations to Presbytera Maggie Sas and Fr. Ciprian Sas of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Cedar Rapids on the arrival of the new baby boy, Isaiah, born December 16. May God grant Isaiah many years!

Help for a Pastor-

There is a Lutheran pastor in Western Iowa who has lost his family's only source of income because he has decided to become Orthodox. They are willing to relocate, to find secular employment for him, preferably in the Upper Midwest. In addition to his public speaking, administration and research skills, Pastor Benjamin has web-designing talent. If you have any ideas for employment for this man, please contact Fr. Ignatius.

Outdoors Blessing of the Waters

We will gather with St. John the Baptist Church and St. George Church, both of Cedar Rapids, for an Outdoors Blessing of the Waters on Saturday January 10 in Cedar Rapids. Time and exact location will be announced soon.

House Blessing Schedule

It is time to start thinking about having your home blessed between Theophany (January 6) and the beginning of Lent (March 1). Fr. Ignatius would like to visit as many of you in your homes as possible during this time. A sign-up sheet is posted. Please suggest a date and a time and Father will confirm if that time will work.

Non-Perishable Food Donations

We collect non-perishable food year round to donate to the local food bank at the Crisis Center. If you haven't donated anything in awhile, the season leading up to Christmas is a perfect time to do so. There is always a need.

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.

Holy Bread and Coffee Hour

On Sunday December 28, the Van Dinter family is providing the holy bread. The food for coffee hour will be brought by the Johnson family. Thank you in advance. Anybody who would like to host the coffee hour or bake the holy bread can sign up at church to do so.

Food For Thought:

"Christ is born! Glorify Him!" With these words we greet each other during the Christmas season, remembering the timeless message of the Nativity of Christ. On this great feast, we call to mind the love of God the Father, who gave us the ultimate gift, His only-begotten Son, in human flesh, that He might dwell among men and make them holy. This is the real gift of Christmas. This is the timeless gift of Christmas. This is the gift, which, of all gifts, keeps on giving. Holy Orthodoxy has inherited this timeless message, this precious gift, in all its fullness.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann