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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of November 22, 2009)

posted Nov 24, 2009, 11:38 AM by Ilya Buchkin
Request for 2010 Pledge Packets to be Returned-
Pledge packets have been distributed for 2010.  The Parish Council asks that your pledge forms be returned very quickly, as they need to know what our expected income will be, in order to set a proposed budget which will be voted on by the church's voting members at the annual voters' meeting on Sunday December 6.  Thank you to the 13 families who have returned their pledges promptly. 

No Office Hours or Nativity Paraklesis Service this Thursday-
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, Fr. Ignatius will not be in the office on Thursday, November 26, nor will we have the Nativity Paraklesis service that evening. 

Parish Council Meeting-
The next Parish Council Meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 30 at 7PM.  All are welcome to attend.

Free Lunch Program Volunteering-

       St. Raphael Church will help at the Free Lunch Program on Tuesday, December 1 from 11:30-1:30PM.  Please contact Fr.
Ignatius if you are able to volunteer for this month.

Fr. Ignatius Will be Out of Town-
       Fr. Ignatius will be out of town from Tuesday, December 1 through Friday, December 4 attending a clergy retreat at Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, MI.  There will be no office hours held Tuesday- Thursday and no Matins on Wednesday.  Nativity Paraklesis on Thursday evening will proceed as a reader's service. 

Annual Parish Voters' Meeting-
The Annual St. Raphael Parish Voters' Meeting will be held after Liturgy on Sunday, December 6.  Please make plans to attend, especially if you are a voting member.

Financial Review Committee Members Needed-
If you are a voting member of the church, would you consider serving on a newly formed Financial Review Committee?  Bishop MARK is asking all of the parishes in his diocese to form such a committee to help the parish councils make sure that financial transparency and accountability is maximized.  We will form this committee at our Annual Meeting on December 6.  Please contact Fr. Ignatius if you are interested in serving the church in this way.

Thank you-

       Thank you to Karen Kuntz for painting and other wall work in the vestry.  It's looking better than ever.

Chimney Work-
In what will likely be the last major building renovation/reapir project for awhile, we are currently in the middle of having our chimney repaired and capped off.  The damaged masonry at the top of the chimney is being removed for safety and aesthetic reasons.  Since the chimney is not in use, it will be capped with concrete to keep water, snow, ice and little furry creatures from infiltrating. 

St. Nicholas Program at St. George Church-
On Saturday, December 5, following 9AM Liturgy at St. George Church, there will be activities for all ages and brunch.  Please contact Fr. Ignatius if you are planning on attending.

St. Nicholas Revealed: An Historical Perspective from an Ancient Church-
On Saturday, December 12 from 2PM-4PM, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church of Cedar Rapids will be presenting a talk on St. Nicholas at the Marion Public Library in Marion, IA.  Fr. Ignatius will join with Fr. Ciprian Sas of St. John the Baptist Church and Deacon Edmund of St. George Church to present the historical St. Nicholas to all who are interested.  

Orthodox Leaders Sign Declaration Concerning Sanctity of Life, Marriage and Religious Freedom-
Metropolitan JONAH, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Bishop BASIL of the Antiochian Diocese of Wichita,  Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary and other Orthodox clergy recently joined with over 140 other Christian leaders in signing the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience."  This is a timely statement which encourages Christians to adhere to their moral convictions and informs civil leaders that the signers will not abandon or compromise their consciences regarding important moral issues of our day.  To read the text of the document, and to sign it if you wish, go to www.manhattandeclaration.org

National Geographic Article on Mt. Athos Available On-line-
       To access this article with wonderful pictures, go to http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/athos/draper-text/1

2010 Church Calendars Available-
On the table in the narthex, are the new 2010 Church calendars.  These calendars show the daily appointed Scripture readings, the saints commemorated for each day, the feast days of the church and the fasting days.  Please take one home with you and bring a couple to friends who may be interested. 

Looking for a Meaningful Christmas Present?-
Shop our St. Raphael Books and Gifts store after a service.  There are plenty of good books, icons and music CDs available that would make good gifts to those you love.  Fr. Ignatius especially recommends the Orthodox Study Bible.

Ancient Faith Radio-
For 24 hour internet radio featuring both liturgical music and excellent Orthodox teaching go to www.ancientfaith.com.  On-demand podcasts can also be downloaded at no cost and listened to at your convenience. 

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

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, Nov 29, Meghan Gilpin and Tony Carter will provide the holy bread. The Van Dinter family will provide the 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, Nov. 28, we still need someone to direct the choir for Vespers.  Lori Branch will direct the choir for matins and Liturgy on Sunday, November 29. 

Food For Thought-

     What words can adequately describe God’s gifts? They are so numerous that they defy enumeration. They are so great that any one of them demands our total gratitude in response.

     Yet even though we cannot speak of it worthily, there is one gift which no thoughtful man can pass over in silence. God fashioned man in his own image and likeness; he gave him knowledge of himself; he endowed him with the ability to think which raised him above all living creatures; he permitted him to delight in the unimaginable beauties of paradise, and gave him dominion over everything upon earth.

     Then, when man was deceived by the serpent and fell into sin, which led to death and to all the sufferings associated with death, God still did not forsake him. He first gave man the law to help him; he set angels over him to guard him; he sent the prophets to denounce vice and to teach virtue; he restrained man’s evil impulses by warnings and roused his desire for virtue by promises. Frequently, by way of warning, God showed him the respective ends of virtue and of vice in the lives of other men. Moreover, when man continued in disobedience even after he had done all this, God did not desert him.
No, we were not abandoned by the goodness of the Lord. Even the insult we offered to our Benefactor by despising his gifts did not destroy his love for us. On the contrary, although we were dead, our Lord Jesus Christ restored us to life again, and in a way even more amazing than the fact itself, for his state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave.

     He bore our infirmities and endured our sorrows. He was wounded for our sake so that by his wounds we might be healed. He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for our sake, and he submitted to the most ignominious death in order to exalt us to the life of glory. Nor was he content merely to summon us back from death to life; he also bestowed on us the dignity of his own divine nature and prepared for us a place of eternal rest where there will be joy so intense as to surpass all human imagination.

     How, then, shall we repay the Lord for all his goodness to us? He is so good that he asks no recompense except our love: that is the only payment he desires. To confess my personal feelings, when I reflect on all these blessings I am overcome by a kind of dread and numbness at the very possibility of ceasing to love God and of bringing shame upon Christ because of my lack of recollection and my preoccupation with trivialities.

St. Basil the Great, "How Shall We Repay the Lord for All His Goodness to Us?"