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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of December 12, 2010)

posted Dec 18, 2010, 10:32 AM by Ilya Buchkin
Choir Appreciation Sunday-
       Today is Choir Appreciation Sunday in the Antiochian Archdiocese.  We are blessed with many gifted singers in our midst.  Our members work very hard in lending their voices to God's service so that we may all be able to more easily enter into the worship of the Holy Trinity.  Thank you choir, and a special thank you to Lori Branch, Tania Van Dinter, Kristi Abuissa and Matthew Arndt, our four very capable choir leaders.
No Office Hours Monday or Tuesday-
       Fr. Ignatius will not be holding office hours on Monday or Tuesday of this week.  In addtion, there will be no matins on Monday. 
Evening in the East, Save the Date!-
       Our Third Annual Evening in the East fundraiser extravaganza will be at Old Brick on the evening of Saturday, February 5.  Matt and Tania Van Dinter will be our co-chairs.  This is an event in which we can use the help of everyone in our church community.  Please plan to help in some way.  We will need food preparers, drink servers, silent auction donations, silent auction staff, ticket sellers, set-up and clean-up crews, and much more help.  Mark your calendars and be listening for more information from Tania and Matt as they organize and coordinate us all. 
Capital Campaign Phase Beginning-
         As we did during Phase I about 2 years ago, the Capital Campaign committee is requesting names and addresses of family and friends who you would like us to send information to about our fundraising efforts for the building.  Please contact committee members Newman Abuissa, Bill Spencer, Lori Branch or Fr. Ignatius with contact information of those who you would like to be on the updated mailing list.
Prison Ministry-
       "Remember those in prison, as if you were imprisoned with them." -Hebrews 13:3.  If you would like to learn more about Orthodox prison ministry, go to: www.ocpm-scoba.org/
December Parish Council Meeting-
       Our December Parish Council meeting will be Wednesday, December 15 at 7PM.
Thank you (regarding Eritrean immigrants in Des Moines)-
       "Dear Fr. Ignatius and Parish of St. Raphael,
God bless you all for your love and compasson and generous donations.  How overwhelming!  You have made their lives easier to bear.... Please keep them in your prayers.
Chrystalla" [Daly]
President of St. George Greek Orthodox Church Philoptochos
Another Thank You-
       Thank you to Matt Van Dinter for the many jugs of drinking water and the soon-to-come water dispenser.  We have enough water now, to last us until the Second Coming!
Nativity Services-
       Friday, December 24- Royal Hours, 9AM; Vesperal Liturgy, 6PM
       Saturday, December 25- Matins, 9AM; Liturgy, 10AM
Decorations in Church for Nativity-
       We will rely on donations to furnish holiday decorations for the church.  If you would like to donate poinsettias or evergreen boughs, we will put them in the church the weekend of December 18-19.
Nativity Fast-
       On November 15, we began 40 days of preparation for the celebration of the coming in the flesh of our God and Savior Jesus Christ at the Feast of the Nativity.  As part of our preparation, we are asked by the Church to modify our diet according to the fasting guidelines for this season which include refraining from meat, dairy and eggs. Wine and oil are allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and fish, wine and oil are allowed on the weekends.  As always, this is the ideal, and a spirit of humble, repentant fasting which brings us closer to God is the goal, rather than perfectly following the fast with pride.
Nativity Letter from Bishop Thomas-
       The Nativity Letter of His Grace Bishop is attached.
A Note on Confession-
      The Sacrament of Repentance or Confession is an indispensible part of a healthy Christian spiritual life.  The fasting seasons of the Church year are natural times to examine oneself and to make a confession.  Every Orthodox Christian should be in the habit of confessing in the presence of a priest.  If you do not confess to your pastor, then find an Orthodox priest you can confess to, and out of respect for your pastor, let him know about your arrangement.  
House Blessings-
       Following the Feast of Theophany on January 6, Fr. Ignatius is available to come to your home for a house blessing until the beginning of Lent.  A sign-up sheet is posted at church if you would like to reserve a
date and time.  
OCF Midwest College Conference 2010-
        Registration is now open for the Orthodox Christian Fellowship Midwest College Conference 2010 at
http://collegeconference2010ngm.eventbrite.com/.  This gathering of Orthodox Christian college students from around the Midwest will be held over winter break between Dec. 29- Jan. 1 at the New Gracanica Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Third Lake, IL outside of Chicago.  The keynote speaker will be His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH of the Orthodox Church in America.  
Thoughts on Stewardship-
       Did you not fall naked from the womb?  Will you not go back naked to the earth?  Where is your present property from?  If you think that it came to you by itself, you don’t believe in God, you don’t acknowledge the creator and you are not thankful to Him who gave it to you.  But if you agree and confess that you have it from God, tell us the reason why He gave it to you.

Is God unjust, dividing unequally the goods of this life?  Why are you rich, while the other is poor?  Isn’t it, if for no other reason, so that you can gain a reward for your kindness and faithful stewardship, and for him to be honored with the great virtue of patience?  But you, having gathered everything inside the empty bosom of avarice, do you think that you wrong no one, while you rob so many people?

Who is the greedy person?  It’s him, who doesn’t content himself with what he has.  And who the thief?  He who steals what belongs to others.  And you think that you are not greedy, and that you do not rob others?  What had been granted to you so that you might care for others, you claim for yourself.

He who strips a man of his clothes is to be called a thief.  Is not he who, when he is able, fails to clothe the naked, worthy of no other title?  The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit. -St. Basil the Great
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, December 19, the Valentine family will bring the Holy Bread.  Thank you in advance. Anyone who would like to provide the holy bread can sign up to do so.  This is a wonderful way to serve the church and to have prayers offered up for your family and friends.  
Coffee Hour-
      On Sunday, December 19, the food for coffee hour and clean-up of the fellowship hall will be provided by the St. Nina team.
Church Cleaning-
     During the week following Sunday, December 19, the St. Nicholas team will clean the nave, narthex, bathrooms, stairs, bookstore and nursery room.
Choir Leadership-
       Tania Van Dinter will lead the choir during the services of December 18-19.
Food For Thought-
We must talk to God in a childlike manner because we are all God's children.  This simple, childlike communication with God brings in the heart the feeling that God is present.  A monastic proverb says: "If you pray only when you pray you never pray."  When you have the presence of God in you then you are in a state of prayer.  Man is prayer, [he does] not just ha[ve] moments when he prays and moments when he does not pray.  We must always feel the presence of God.  When we say: "God, Lord" we must feel that God turns His face to us and waits for us to talk to Him.  When you work, concentrate on your work, when you talk to someone, pay attention to what you say, but when you have a few minutes, no matter how little time you have, talk to God, ask Him for help, tell him your thoughts.
Archimandrite Roman Braga in "True Prayer Never Ends" The Burning Bush, Vol. 23, No. 3, Winter 2010