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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of December 13, 2009)

posted Dec 13, 2009, 5:17 PM by Ilya Buchkin
Decorating the Church for Christmas-
       Do you want to help decorate the church for Christmas?  Because the church has no budget for this decoration, we are looking for donations of poinsettias, evergreen boughs (real or artificial) for our window sills and iconostasis, and a Christmas tree (real?) for the narthex.  The Valentine family has volunteered to decorate the tree, if one is donated.  We would like all decorations to go up next weekend.  Please contact Fr. Ignatius if you plan on donating decorations or helping to decorate.

Bless a St. Raphael Member with a Christmas Card-
One of our members, Luke Snyder, would welcome receiving Christmas cards from other St. Raphael Church members.  Luke is currently incarcerated at the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility in Mount Pleasant, IA.  He sends his greetings to all of you.  His contact information has changed from what is printed in our church directory.  For his current address, please ask Fr. Ignatius. 

Nativity Services-
On Thursday, December 24, we will have Royal Hours at 9AM and Vesperal Liturgy at 6PM.  On Friday, December 25, we will have matins at 8:45AM and Liturgy at 10AM.  Come celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, and bring a friend!

Christmas Greetings from Bishop MARK-
Attached is a copy of Bishop MARK's 2009 Nativity letter.

Looking for Volunteers to Organize a Fundraising Event-
Last January, our church family banded together to pull off a wonderful fundraising event at Old Brick that we called "An Evening in the East".  From that, we raised approximately $7000 for our Capital Campaign.  We would like to do something similar again this winter, and schedule it for late January or early February, before Lent begins.  For this to be successful, we need volunteers to organize all of us into an efficient structure of cooperation and division of labor.  It will take most or all of our members participating in some way, for this event to be as successful as it can be.  If you feel motivated to head up such an effort, please contact Fr. Ignatius or Kristi Abuissa.

Year-End Appeal from Project Mexico-St. Innocent Orphanage-
Recently, we have announced opportunities to serve this summer, at Project Mexico-St. Innocent Orphanage in Baja California, Mexico.  If you can't commit to traveling there to help them with their ministry, perhaps you are being called to bless them with a year-end donation.  Like all non-profits, they have been hurting financially.  Gifts that they receive by December 30, up to $45,000, will be doubled by anonymous donors with matching gifts.  For more information, go to www.projectmexico.org.  Donations can be mailed to them at: Project Mexico, PO Box 120028, Chula Vista, CA 91912

Winter Bible Study to Begin on Thursday Evenings in January-
Following our Thursday Akathist service, and beginning at 8PM on January 7-February 11, a six-week Bible study will be offered on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Epistles of John.  Come out for Akathist at 7PM, and stay for about an hour of discussion on these short little New Testament books.

Outdoor Blessing of the Waters is January 9-
St. Raphael Church and the Iowa Orthodox Christian Clergy Association (IOCCA) will host an Outdoor Blessing of the Waters Service as part of our Theophany celebrations on Saturday, January 9 at 11AM.  We will gather on the pedestrian bridge spanning the Iowa River which is next to the Iowa River Power Restaurant and Flannigan's Bar & Grill on 1st Avenue in Coralville.  We will be joined by some of the faithful from St. George Orthodox Church and St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church, both of Cedar Rapids.  Those who want to, can share a lunch together afterward at Flannigan's.  

House Blessings-
The time for blessing homes is just around the corner.  Between Theophany (Jan. 6) and the beginning of Lent (Feb. 21) Fr. Ignatius is available to come and bless your home.  A sign-up sheet will be posted next week.  Please begin to look at your schedule and consider a time that works best for you. 

Overflow Shelter Volunteering-
       During the cold winter months, local churches and other organizations in Iowa City work to provide an area where people who do not have a bed in the local shelter, because of a lack of space, can find a warm place to sleep.  This winter, St. Patrick's Catholic Church has volunteered the use of their parish hall for this purpose.  St. Raphael Church has volunteered to provide staffing for the week of January 17-23, 2010 for this overflow shelter.  We need volunteers that week (no training required) to bring breakfast, clean up in the mornings, do laundry on Wednesday and Sunday and serve as a morning or evening driver.  The sign up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board in the hall outside the fellowship area.  For further information, or to volunteer, please contact Amy Jongeling at 319-331-2275 or ajongeli@gmail.com

OCMC Mission Team Needs Healthcare Providers-
We are a small mission, but we are blessed with many healthcare providers in our midst.  The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is asking for health care providers to consider joining a short-term mission trip to Uganda, scheduled for June 11-26.  For more information, go to http://www.ocmc.org/programs/view_team.aspx?TeamId=58

Holyland Pilgrimage-
       With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and being lead by His Grace Bishop Basil, a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Mt. Sinai is being organized for August 17-31, 2010.  The itinerary will include Tiberias, Nazareth, Mt.Tabor, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, the Dead Sea, Samaria, Hebron, and so much more.  A highlight of the trip will be the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Dormition (old calendar) at the Church of the Tomb of the Theotokos.  A two day trip to Mt. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine will end our pilgrimage.   The cost will be approximately $2235/double, $2830/single (if we have 20 in the group) reduced to $1835/double, $2430/single (if we have 50 in the group).  A deposit of $300 will hold your spot with the balance being paid up to 45 days prior to leaving.  (These prices do not include flights.)  If you, your family, or your friends are interested in this Pilgrimage, please reply to Fr. Joe Abud at njja@aol.com and you will receive more information and updates.

Nativity Fast-
We are in the season to prepare for the coming Feast of the Nativity of our Lord.  During this time, the Church asks us to alter our diet and abstain from meat, dairy and eggs, and on some days, wine and oil.  As with each of the fasting seasons of the Church year, this is a particularly good time to prepare to make a confession.  During this time, we are encouraged to increase our giving to the Crisis Center's  food pantry.  The box to receive non-perishable food items is located in the narthex, underneath the candle box.

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 and Coffee Hour-
       On Sunday, Dec. 20,  the Branch/Peterson family will provide the holy bread. We need a volunteer to bring food for coffee hour.  Thank you in advance.  Anybody who would like to host the coffee hour or bake the holy bread can sign up to do so.

Choir Leadership-
On Saturday, Dec. 19, Amy Jongeling direct the choir for Vespers.  Lori Branch will direct the choir for matins and Liturgy on Sunday, December 20. 

Food For Thought-

Our Creator granted to our beloved homeland [Russia] this land [Alaska] which like a newly-born babe does not yet have the strength for knowledge or understanding. She requires not only protection, because of her infantile weakness and impotence, but also her sustenance. Even for this sh does not yet have the ability to make an appeal on its own behalf. And since the welfare of this nation by the Providence of God, it is not known for how long, is dependent on and has been entrusted into the hands of the Russian government which has now been given into your own power, therefore I, the most humble servant of these people, and their nurse stand before you in their behalf, write this petition with tears of blood. Be our Father and our Protector. Certainly we do not know how to be eloquent, so with an inarticulate infant's tongue we say: Wipe away the tears of the defenseless orphans, cool the hearts melting away in the fire of sorrow. Help us to know what consolation means."

St. Herman of Alaska, whom we commemorate today.  A missionary to Alaska and a protector of the Native Alaskans under his care, he wrote these words to Simeon Yanovsky, the administrator of the Russian colony of Alaska in the late 18th or early 19th century.