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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of December 27, 2009)

posted Jan 10, 2010, 9:48 PM by Ilya Buchkin
Christmas Greetings from Patriarch Ignatius IV-
Christmas is an opportunity to revive our faith in the One who was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Jesus was born of a virgin to save the world from sin and to lead it towards salvation. God, in the Christmas message, sent His only Son to show us that human nature is neither evil nor transient. For, as God took on human nature, that nature has become noble, and we humans, the carriers of His image, became thereby noble, and touched by the holiness that comes from above.

Christmas means God came to us and for us. Accordingly, we should be ready to do God's will. On this day we beseech the Almighty to open our eyes to see our brethren, and appreciate that the God who created us is the God who created them; they have the right to exist as we do. Otherwise, our faith will be at fault. At Christmas we look at our world and ask God to have mercy on us and grant us His Grace. There are people who are dying here and there; there are millions who are displaced. May the Good Lord give them solace and peace.

I pray to the Child born in a cave in Bethlehem to forgive our sins and look upon you and upon us with His infInite love and boundless mercy.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Fr. Ignatius is out of Town-
Until Saturday, January 2, Fr. Ignatius will be out of town.  You can try to reach him on his cell phone (319-400-7522) during this time, or you can contact Fr. Elias Khouri at 319-329-2562.  There is no Monday or Wednesday matins or Thursday Akathist this week.

Thank you-
Thank you to Fr. Elias Khouri for serving at St. Raphael this weekend.

2009 Recap-
       There is much that could be said about the year that is now coming to a close.  Of course, we rejoice in our new building and we pray that it helps us to continue to grow and to better serve the community.  We said goodbye to some dear friends from within our midst.  The Kulps, the Grindeanus, the Bayouths, the Assis, Angela Spurgetis and others are now elsewhere.  We miss them all.  We rejoice that God continues to send us more people.  We had nine chrismations and four baptisms in 2009.  Currently, we have one catechumen.  Our total membership holds steady at about 100.  We enjoyed two visits from Bishop MARK, one in May and one in September. 

Respite from Fasting-
       As part of the celebration of the coming in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no fasting from December 25 through January 4.  Merry Christmas!  We follow a Lenten-style fast on January 5 in anticipation of the Feast of Theophany the next day.

January-February Calendars Available-
Calendars detailing events at St. Raphael Church for the next two months are now printed and available to be picked up at church.

Free Lunch Program Volunteering-
St. Raphael Church will volunteer at the Free Lunch Program from 11:30AM-1:30PM on Tuesday, February 5.  Please contact Fr. Ignatius if you can help out this month.

Theophany Services-
We will remember the Baptism of the Lord with Royal Hours at 9AM on Tuesday January 5 and Vesperal Liturgy with a Blessing of the Waters at 6PM.

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 are pleased that we will be joined by His Grace Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.  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.  

Winter Bible Study to Begin on Thursday Evenings in January-
Following our Thursday Akathist service, and beginning at 8PM on January 7, 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.

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 is posted.  Please begin to look at your schedule and consider a time that works best for you. 

Volunteer Opportunities-
We are always in need of volunteers to bake the holy bread used for Holy Communion.  We also welcome volunteers to read the weekly Epistle in either English or the language of your choice.  Sign-up sheets for both opportunities are on the bulletin board at the top of the stairs between the narthex and the bookstore/library room. 

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

Annual Voters' Meeting Minutes Attached-
Minutes from the December 6 Annual Voters' Meeting are attached for your information. 

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, Jan. 3, the Wiblin/Kuntz family will provide the holy bread.  Food for coffee hour will be brought by the Abuissa family.  Thank you in advance.  Anybody who would like to bake the holy bread can sign up to do so.

Choir Leadership-
On Saturday, January 2,  Tania Van Dinter will direct the choir for Vespers.   Lori Branch will direct the choir for matins and Liturgy on Sunday, January 3. 

Food For Thought-

The Virgin cometh today, to the cave to give birth, ineffably to bring forth the Word eternal.  Therefore, rejoice O earth, at the message; with the angels and shepherds give glory to Him who shall appear by His own will as a young Child, He Who is from eternity God!

Kontakion of the Prefeast of Nativity