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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of August 15, 2010)

posted Sep 7, 2010, 1:18 AM by Ilya Buchkin
       Congratulations to Lucia Johnson who was baptized into the Church this morning, and to parish friend Lev Allyne Smith who was recently ordained a priest into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).  Axios, Fr. Lev, and many years to both Lucia and Fr. Lev. 

OCF Welcome Baskets-
       Our parish is putting together "welcome baskets" for all our new and returning college students.  We will distribute these on Sun. Aug. 22 & Sun. Aug. 29 after liturgy, to express our love and support for these students and their families.  We hope to make 12 baskets and involve as many families as possible!  To contribute, please prepare 12 of whatever you would like to donate: packages of popcorn, pizza gift certificates, pencils, notepads, you name it - anything a college student might like.  Feel free to put a little tag on it that says it is from your family. We will save unused materials for future semesters.  Please make arrangements to give your donations to our OCF sponsor, Lori Peterson Branch, before next weekend.
Blessing for Students-
       As the school year gets underway, Fr. Ignatius will bless students of the parish with oil from the vigil lamp which hangs at the relics of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.  All students, from pre-K to college and beyond are welcome to come forward next Sunday, August 22 after Liturgy for the blessing.
August Parish Council Meeting-
       The August Parish Council meeting will be held Monday, August 16 at 7PM.  All are welcome.
"Out of the Darkness" Community Walk-
       The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition is hosting their first ever "Out of the Darknes Walk" on Sunday, August 22 at 6PM in City Park.  Walkers are encouraged to seek friends, family and co-workers to sponsor them and to walk in memory of someone who has committed suicide.  Registration information is available on The Crisis Center's website at www.jccrisiscenter.org.
Relief for Russian Wild Fire/Heatwave Victims-
       You can help the victims of disasters around the world, like the Russian Heat Wave and Wildfires, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.
All-Parish Potluck-
       On Sunday, August 29 (the fifth Sunday of the month) we ask that everyone plan on bringing a dish to pass for our fellowship hour food.  Since this is the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Forerunnner, it is a fasting day so please, no meat, dairy or eggs. 
You Are Invited-
       Fr. Fred, Khourieh Michelle and family invite you to celebrate the baptism of Eirene Sophia Shaheen Saturday, September 18 at 10:30 am at St. George Orthodox Church in Cedar Rapids.  Lunch reception following in the Michael G. Nassif Education and Cultural Center.  Fr. Fred needs an accurate count for the caterer, so please confirm that you are attending by signing the sheet on the bulletin board at the top of the stairs.
Thoughts on Stewardship-
          From Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on Ephesians … “Woe to him, it is said, who doeth not alms; and if this was the case under the Old Covenant, much more is it under the New. If, where the getting of wealth was allowed and the enjoyment of it, and the care of it, there was such provision made for the succoring of the poor, how much more in that Dispensation, where we are commanded to surrender all we have? For what did not they of old do? They gave tithes, and tithes again upon tithes for orphans, widows, and strangers, whereas some one was saying to me in astonishment at another, ‘Why, such an one gives tithes.’ What a load of disgrace does this expression imply, since what was not a matter of wonder with the Jews has come to be so in the case of the Christians? If there was danger then in omitting tithes, think how great it must be now.”             
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.
Choir Leadership-
       On Saturday, August 21,  Kristi Abuissa will direct the choir for Great Vespers.   Kristi will also direct the choir on Sunday, August 22. 
Holy Bread-
       On Sunday, August 22, Lori Branch will provide the holy bread.  Thank you in advance.  Anyone who would like to provide holy bread for a Sunday may sign-up to do so. 
Coffee Hour-
       On Sunday, August 22, the St. John the Baptist team is responsible for bringing food for coffee hour and for cleaning up the fellowship hall afterward.
Church Cleaning-
       During the week following Sunday, August 22, the St. Raphael team will be responsible for cleaning the nave, narthex, stairs and bathrooms of the church.
Food For Thought-
When we pray before an icon we pray to God.  We invoke God.  Kissing the icon we kiss the image of God.  Just as in life we say "Hello" and greet each other, we should greet the image of God in each other.  If we see the image of God in our neighbors we will not hate each other.  When we are angry and insult our neighbors we forget that the image of God is in them.  This is a sin.  Venerating icons teaches us how to respect our neighbors.  Each icon in our house tells us that we should be an icon of God also.  We should be like the saints because they had the image of God in them.  The saints were real persons in history who purified themselves so the image of God shows through them.  An icon is a symbol.  What is a symbol?  It is something that points to other realities.  The icon points to the image of God in man. 
Another important question is : Why do we pray with icons?  When we pray before an icon, God descends into that icon and listens to us.  We ascend in our minds toward Him.  Thus the icon is a place of encounter between man and God.  It is easier to pray with icons than without icons.  God really descends in the icon.  That is why some of the icons are miracle workers.  There are many miracles worked through the icons because when we pray the icon becomes sanctified by the presence of god in it.  That is why we sanctify the icons with the blessing and the sprinkling of holy water.
In summary, the icons show that the goal of our lives is to clean and restore the icon of God in us which was tarnished and covered with dirt by our sins and by the sins of our ancestors. 
Archimandrite Roman Braga, excerpted from "The Bible and the Bible Without Words" in The Burning Bush: A Monastic Journal, Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2010