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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of August 21, 2011)

posted Sep 25, 2011, 1:31 AM by Ilya Buchkin
Many Years!-
Congratulations and "Many years!" to Ana Nodia and the Nodia/Tskhakaia families upon Ana's baptism yesterday.

       Today we welcome Abbot Gerasim, formerly of St. Herman's Monastery of Platina, CA, and currently of St. Vladimir's Seminary, who has been visiting this weekend. 
Mastering the Art of Marriage Presentation-
       Fr. Constantine Nasr, the recently retired priest of Prophet Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, will be at St. George Church in Cedar Rapids (3650 Cottage Grove Ave. SE) this Wednesday August 24 to do a presentation titled "Mastering the Art of Marriage."  Fr. Constantine has just authored a book by the same name, published by Conciliar Press. Vespers will be at 5PM, followed by a free supper and Fr. Constantine's presentation.  All are welcome.  Due to this presentation, we will not have Wednesday evening Akathist this week.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship-
       It's that time of the year again, the beginning of the school year.  The University of Iowa Orthodox Christian Fellowship will begin holding weekly meetings and social events starting this Thursday, August 25.  All interested Orthodox college students and their friends are invited to come to the home of Lori Branch, the OCF faculty advisor, this Thursday August 25 at 6:30PM for a meal and a time of fellowship.  The weekly schedule of OCF events will follow this pattern: 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, 7PM compline service followed by a book study of "To Love as God Loves" by Roberta Bondi; 2nd and 4th Thursdays will feature a social gathering beginning at 6:30PM and focused around a meal.  The locations for these meals will vary from time to time. 

Sunday School Beginning Soon/Save the Date-
We will have a kick-off to the Sunday School year with a fun day scheduled for Saturday September 10 from 10AM-1PM at the church.  The children will gather for a picnic and t-shirt dyeing and games in anticipation for the first day of Sunday School on Sunday September 11.  Please plan to get your children involved in what promises to be a wonderful year of Sunday School.  Also, we are in need of volunteers to be helpers in the classroom.  If you have not returned your registration forms yet, please do so ASAP to Fr. Ignatius or Alli Rockwell. 

Church New Year Begins September 1... Let's read through the Bible-
It is a little known fact that the reckoning of the annual Orthodox Church calendar begins on September 1.  In the secular world, the New Year is a time to make resolutions, promises with oneself about new beginnings or changes that need to be made.  Fr. Ignatius encourages all at St. Raphael to undertake a task for this new Church year- to read through the whole Bible from September 1, 2011- August 31, 2012.  Will you join Fr. Ignatius in this effort?  To make this task manageable and organized, Father will make available a list of daily readings, a plan based on the Orthodox Study Bible, which includes the full Orthodox scriptural canon, including the so-called deutero-canonical books.  This plan is not as daunting as it may seem and should take about 15-20 minutes of reading each day- on average, less than four chapters.  Each day, four selections are read: one from the Psalms, one from Proverbs, one from the rest of the Old Testament, and one from the New Testament.  As planned, Psalms and Proverbs will be read through twice over the course of the year.  Look at the quote under "Food for Thought" at the bottom of this email for the splendid thoughts of a contemporary Greek elder on the benefits of reading God's written Word.     

Sermon Series- Understanding the Divine Liturgy-
Fr. Ignatius is preaching a series of sermons each Sunday titled "Understanding the Divine Liturgy."  In this series, we will consider some general characteristics of the Liturgy, and then we will work our way through the text of the Liturgy, asking God to enlighten us regarding this marvelous gift of God to His Church. 

Weekday Morning Service Schedule Changes-

       At the start of the school year, due to a change in the schedule of Fr. Ignatius, there will be some changes made to our weekday morning services.  Beginning this week, instead of matins on Monday and Wednesday mornings at 8:30AM, we will have 3rd Hour on Tuesdays at 9AM, and matins on Fridays at 8:30AM.  We will keep this schedule for the foreseeable future.
Upcoming Services-
       We will commemorate the Behaedaing of St. John the Forerunner with vespers at 6PM on Sunday, August 28.  We will commoemorate the Nativity of the Theotokos with Vesperal Liturgy at 6PM on Wednesday, September 7.
A Prayer for the Suffering People of the Horn of Africa-
       According to humanitarian workers in the area, there are currently over 500,000 children (plus women and men) in danger of starvation, due to a severe, drought and war-caused famine in Somalia and surrounding areas.  The International Orthodox Christian Charities is on the ground and contributing to the relief work that is being done there.  Metropolitan Isaiah, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver offers this prayer: 
Holy God, You Who sent Your Only-Begotten Son into this fallen world to gather Your people for Your coming Kingdom, we beseech You to look upon the tribulations and tragedies which have befallen humanity. We fervently ask You to bring solace and comfort to the souls and bodies of those who have been so afflicted. We further ask that Your enduring peace will abide in the hearts and minds of those who continue to suffer.
Lord, we know that the current catastrophes, both by nature and by the hand of man, have been expected to come about from the source of evil, as we read in Your holy word. But, even in the face of this human suffering, as we have seen in Asia, in Africa, and in other places of the earth, we remain confident that Your divine will shall prevail.
As we await Your infinite love which shall be triumphant in the days to come, we offer our grateful thanks to You, we bless You, and we glorify Your All Holy and Sublime Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the ages of ages. AMEN.
Do You Have a Smart Phone?-
If you do, you may be interested to know that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has developed a free "Daily Readings" app, that allows you to view the Scripture readings, lives of the saints and fasting prescriptions for each day.  For those "plugged into" this technology, this is an excellent resource.  This app can be downloaded at: www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/internet/mobileapps/

OCAMPR Annual Conference-

       The Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion announces their annual conference: "The Science and Theology of Conception."  The conference will be held November 4-5 on the campus of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA.  More information on the organization and the conference can be found at: www.ocampr.org
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.

Holy Bread-
        On Sunday August 28, the Van Dinter family will provide the holy bread.  Thank you in advance.  Anyone who would like to provide the holy bread can sign up at the bulletin board in the narthex.  Bread seals are available to be loaned out.

Choir Leadership-
       On Saturday August 27 and Sunday August 28, Tania Van Dinter will lead the choir.

Coffee Hour-
      On Sunday August 28, the food for coffee hour and the cleaning of the fellowship hall will be provided by the St. John the Baptist team.
Church Cleaning-
       During the week following Sunday August 21, the cleaning of the nave, narthex, bookstore/library, stairs, nursery and bathrooms will be provided by the St. Nicholas team.
Food for Thought-

Holy Scripture is the greatest gift which God has given to man... the Word of God is like an instrument which punctures the hardness of our heart.  It is like a blast of dynamite which blasts our passions to the left and to the right.  It purges our heart and fills it with virtues... the Holy Scriptures provide us with spiritual experience.... Where God's voice is, there is God, hidden within the voice.  The spiritual book is a mystery, a sacrament... the words and lines of Holy Scripture are the garments of Christ....  We know the names of dozens of actors and celebrities by heart, backwards and forwards.  The same things with sports stars....   Here's a better idea, let's do something else.  When you go home tonight, open up [the Scriptures]. 

Elder Aemilianos of Simonopetra on Mt. Athos