Friday, April 4, 2014

HOLY CROSS UPDATE FOR PASSION-TIDE


This Sunday is Passion Sunday and the beginning of Passion-tide. Pascha, Easter, is just two weeks from Sunday. I hope that you have had a focused, holy and fruitful Lent so far. If not, there are still two weeks left in Lent so let us make a spiritually profitable use of the time we have left. Even if we have had a holy and profitable Lent so far, we can still intensify our observance for the last two weeks of this important season. Remember, no pain no gain, no cross no crown.

Lenten observance is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. We don't pray, receive the sacraments, fast and practice self-denial in order to gain merit with God. We do all these things, and more, as means to grow in holiness. Growing in holiness is to be able to surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit more and more, day by day, so He can change us into the likeness of Jesus.  As the Saints of every age have already discovered, marvelous things happen when we let go of our own need to control and begin to live more and more with the wonder and trust found in a child. Being a Saint (Latin for holy) is a vocation to which each and every Christian has been called, not just a few greats who lived in the past and who are now commemorated on the Church Kalendar. Becoming a Saint means repenting of and forsaking our sins, centering our lives more and more in God's life, acquiring the Holy Spirit and surrendering ourselves more and more to His leading, and using more and more of what we have in personal talents and spiritual gifts, and time and treasure, not for our own self-aggrandizement, comfort or pleasure, but for the glory of God and the service of His people. To be a Saint is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, partake of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and become like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Fr. Anthony Coniaris says, if "it's not personal, it's not real."

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, April 13th. The Holy Week Schedule is:

Palm Sunday, April 13th, Morning Prayer, 9:30 AM;  Holy Eucharist,                       10:00 AM
Spy Wednesday, April 16th, Holy Eucharist ,                                                                   12:10 PM
Maundy Thursday, April 17th, Holy Eucharist, Stripping of the Altar and Evening Prayer,  6:30 PM
Good Friday, April 18th, Morning Prayer and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts,   9:00 AM
Evening Prayer and Litany,                                                    6:30 PM
Easter Even, April 19th, Evening Prayer and Renewal of Baptismal Vows,                6:30 PM
Easter or Pascha, April 20th, Morning Prayer, 9:30 AM;   Holy Eucharist,                      10:00 AM
I hope that you will arrange your schedule for Holy Week so you can attend as many of these important Services as you can, and every Service if possible. We will be walking with Christ and reliving the events in the days leading to His Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection. 

Let us remember the poor and take the money that we are saving by fasting and buy food for those most in need. Our donation of food was taken to the Open Door Mission today and totaled 300 pounds! So far this year we have contributed more than 1,700 pounds of food to the Open Door Mission and we are outpacing last year's giving — for which I am truly thankful. And that does not include our deliveries of large amounts of gourmet bread to the Francis and Sienna House shelters every Friday and one Saturday of every month. The needs are so great and they are growing, and I am thankful that we are able to help feed so many. The parish food bin is now empty, so please bring a donation with you on Sunday. There are so many hungry people to feed. Let's do all we can for as many as we can following the example of our Lord. Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who helped clean the church last Wednesday evening for Holy Week and Pascha. We had a good turnout and we were finished in about an hour. 

Please remember in your prayers those who were killed or wounded at Fort Hood this week, and their families. The last count that I heard was three dead, plus the shooter who took his own life, and sixteen wounded.

There will be no Services at Douglas County Hospital tomorrow (Saturday). The hospital is under quarantine. Volunteers are not being allowed in and residents are not being allowed to gather in groups. I have no further details. Please remember the patients and staff of Douglas County Hospital in your prayers. 

You may have noticed that our street signs are down. That is because the City of Ralston is requiring that all street signs come down. There is good news though. Our landlord is allowing us to put up a new sign on the overhang of the covered parking lot. A large 3x8 foot sign is already being made and will soon go up, greatly increasing the visibility of our church from the street. A new sign is also being made to replace the sign on the pillar in the parking lot. This new sign will be placed higher on the pillar to increase visibility as well. These new signs will have a Celtic Cross like you see on our bulletin cover, in emerald green, with black text on a white background.

A family in the parish has purchased and donated audio and video recording equipment, and we are awaiting delivery. This new equipment will allow us to increase our electronic outreach, enabling us to record events, lectures, sermons and more, and then upload them onto Youtube. I am very, very excited about this new outreach!

Our altar will soon be raised to make it more visible during worship. Altars have always been required to be no less than 39 inches and no more than 42 inches high, yet our altar measures a mere 30 inches high. The altar should be the most visible part of the church, drawing all eyes to it. I am thankful that we have a skilled woodworker in the parish who will be raising up our altar by nine inches so it will be the traditional 39 inches in height and the most visible part of the church. I am told that the added wood and stain will match the altar as it now is. I am really excited about this.

Next week Confessions will be heard on Wednesday from 11:15 to 11:45 AM.
The Holy Eucharist will be celebrated on Wednesday at 12:10 PM and on Thursday at 7:00 AM.
Choir Practice will be held on Wednesday evening at 6:15 PM.

This Sunday, April 6th, is Passion Sunday and the beginning of Passion-tide. I hope that you will invite family and friends to come to church with you, and even pick them up and bring them with you if you can. 

Sunday School is at 9:00 AM, followed by Morning Prayer at 9:30 AM and the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Nursery care for children under the age of four is available during our 10:00 AM Liturgy. Refreshments and fellowship follow worship. In an age of watered-down doctrine and worldly morality, we remain an Orthodox Christian church with an unchanging message in an ever changing world. On Christ the solid Rock we stand, all else is naught but shifting sand. We are a faithful, friendly and active congregation, and we have a place for you. See you on Sunday!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE?

“Devote all your energy to preaching the Word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ” - St. Tikhon (1865-1925), the martyred Patriarch of Moscow and former Bishop of America.

Do you want your life to count for something, or are you just muddling through?

Are you interested in serious Christian discipleship, or merely fulfilling a perceived obligation?

Who or what are you really serving? 

Are you looking for a committed church, or a church where you can sit anonymously in a pew and then rush out the door?

Are you a talker, or are you a doer of the Word of God?

Do you want to change the world we live in, beginning with yourself, or are you looking for a church that requires little inward or outward commitment on your part?

These are all important questions with temporal and eternal consequences, and they can be summarized in this one: Are you a serious disciple or something less? If you are really serious about the Christian life and looking for a place to grow in knowledge, holiness and service, then Holy Cross parish may be the church for you! 

Holy Cross is an amazing church. Like all churches we have had our ups and downs, our victories and our setbacks and missteps, our joys and our heartbreaks, but in good times and hard times we are consistently faithful to God and to one another, and never take our eyes off Jesus. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17), and we are very involved as light and salt in our community and around the world. Holy Cross is a faithful, friendly and active church made up of serious disciples, and we have a place for you. Are we perfect? By no means. But we are serious and faithful disciples of Christ, and God isn't finished with us yet! We have His promise in Scripture that if we remain faithful He will complete the work begun in us.

Holy Cross parish is an Orthodox Christian church in the Anglican tradition. We hold firmly to the Faith of the Undivided Church, earnestly contending for the Faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) without additions or subtractions. You won’t find anything new here. No new theology... no new morality... no trendy worship. What you will find is a warm, friendly and welcoming congregation committed to the Word of God and to worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

Our spirituality is Benedictine, revolving around the daily Divine Office, with the Holy Eucharist as the center and summit of our spirituality; and we balance prayer and work (Ora et Labora) in our spiritual lives.

We celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM, preceded by Morning Prayer (Matins) at 9:30 AM, with fellowship and refreshments after the Liturgy, and a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of the month. Nursery Care for children under the age of four is available during our 10:00 AM Sunday Liturgy. We celebrate the Holy Eucharist at Holy Cross parish three times every week - Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, in addition to Holy Days. We are truly a Eucharistic-centered parish and everyone has an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion frequently.

We also minister in the chapel of Douglas County Hospital, bringing the Gospel and spiritual care to long-term residents that are sadly often all but forgotten by family and completely cut off from any church community.

At Christmas time in 2012, we established a Vested Choir at Holy Cross parish. A Vested Choir is a beautiful and beloved Anglican tradition. This dedicated choir sacrifices an evening of their time every week for practice in addition to assigned music homework, and blesses the parish with their music ministry. We have a salaried Music Director/Cantor who is also a parishioner. Our traditional Liturgy is beautiful and the ancient Gregorian chant lifts our hearts to the Throne of Grace. Our Liturgy is the Orthodox Anglican Use of the Western Rite, called the Liturgy of St. Tikhon.

In February of this year we added more Gregorian chant to the Liturgy and our choir will soon begin singing the Domine, non sum dignus as we receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. I met with our Music Director yesterday, and we are looking at adding Gregorian chant to the Divine Office as well. Our Ash Wednesday Service this year was beautiful. It consisted of the Litany, the blessing and imposition of ashes and a sung Eucharist. For the first time we chanted the Litany as a congregation.

We place a strong emphasis on Christian education at Holy Cross. We preach real sermons with an emphasis on the exposition of the Scripture lessons in the Liturgy as understood by the Fathers of the Church. Our adult Christian Education class (Sunday School) is well attended at Holy Cross and we teach the class at the college level. I am currently teaching this class, but Fr. Michael Smith also teaches and we make use of capable lay teachers as well. St. Jerome reminds us that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ” and counsels us to “Often read the Holy Scriptures, indeed, let the Bible never be out of your hands.”

There are many opportunities for involvement at Holy Cross parish. We have a parish Prayer Chain that prays for people by name and need; a Birthday Card ministry; are involved in Pro Life work; have active Women’s and Men’s groups; and more. Our Women’s group is called the Sisters of Holy Cross and our Men’s group is the Knights of St. George. 

We are also a church that is supported entirely by the tithes and offerings of parishioners. We do not have bingo or constant fundraisers. We have had a few minor parish fund-raisers such as a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper or a Lenten Fish Fry, but our occasional fund-raisers tend to be held by parish organizations to fund their important work. 

In 2013 we contributed 4,997 pounds, or about two and a half tons, of much needed food to the Open Door Mission, an area homeless shelter. That is more than four times our original goal and an absolutely amazing amount of food! Every pound of this food was given by parishioners. In addition, we have already contributed more than 1,100 pounds of food to the Open Door Mission so far in 2014. The winter of 2013/2014 has been brutal so in order to help those most in need to survive the cold we have begun collecting blankets and gloves from parishioners for the Open Door Mission. The Open Door Mission weighs all donations, and last week we provided the Mission with 46 pounds of blankets. More donations are piling up in our parish hall and will soon be delivered to the Mission.

In 2013 we also delivered a vast amount of donated gourmet bread to the Francis and Siena House Shelters and that ministry continues in 2014. This bread is picked up by a Holy Cross parishioner every Friday and one Saturday of the month from a gourmet sandwich shop and delivered to the Francis and Siena House Shelters. Each delivery is around 150 pounds of bread. We are currently supplying the three largest homeless shelters in Omaha with much needed food. Holy Cross is making a real difference in the lives of real people.

In 2013 we partnered with Samaritan's Purse and participated in Operation Christmas Child. Holy Cross parishioners sent many boxes of Christmas gifts to children in third world countries touching them with the love of Jesus and giving them hope. In addition, we raised money in 2013 to dig clean water wells in Africa, and to help both the Palestinian and Jewish Christian communities in the State of Israel.

In December of 2013 we moved into our new parish hall. The new hall is almost double the size of our old parish hall. While we were overcrowded in the old hall we seem dwarfed in the new hall, but that is a good feeling. It not only gives us more classroom and nursery space, but also gives us room for expansion.

In addition to fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall every Sunday after the Liturgy and a monthly potluck luncheon, we also enjoy other activities that build our parish family. We have occasional “dinner and a movie” nights showing an edifying film in the parish hall; an annual Summer Church Picnic; a Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck at a nearby working farm; and a Christmas party in the wee hours of the morning after our Mid-night Liturgy on the Feast of the Nativity. The Christian life is the good life at Holy Cross parish.

At Holy Cross we put a real emphasis on the fact that the church is not something we go to, but a family to which we belong. The church is the family of God where disciples should really care for one another - and we do. There are no cliques here. Age, socioeconomic class, education, ethnicity or past life does not matter. All are welcome and cared for. We are committed to one another because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all sinners saved by grace and wounded healers. Holy Cross is a place for new beginnings.

Our fellowship and refreshment time after Services have looked more like potluck luncheons over the last month and a half or so with an abundance of delicious food, and my wife Cheri and I find ourselves leaving the church later and later on Sunday afternoons. Why? Because we are a church family and we enjoy being together.  

If you want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and make a difference in people's lives, beginning with your own, then Holy Cross parish is the church for you. Ultimately, what you will get out of the church and the Christian life depends on what you are willing to put into it. Jesus said, if we want to be his disciples we must pick up our cross daily and follow him. Come for a visit and see for yourself. We celebrate the Holy Eucharist every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM, with fellowship and refreshments after the Liturgy. We are a faithful and friendly congregation and we have a place for you. I hope to see you on Sunday!

Friday, February 21, 2014

HOLY CROSS UPDATE

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday is our monthly potluck luncheon. As always, members of our church family are asked to bring a main dish, or a side dish and a desert or drink. Our guests do not have to bring a thing. Our monthly potlucks are a real highlight in the life of Holy Cross parish and there is always plenty of good food and warm fellowship, so be sure to invite family and friends!

So far in 2014 we have contributed 874 pounds of much needed food to the Open Door Mission, and our weekly bread deliveries continue to the Francis and Sienna House shelters. Our food bin is already filling up. Let's try to fill it to over-flowing this Sunday so the food can be taken to the Open Door Mission. In his Epistle, James writes, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:14-17).

Next week we will celebrate the Holy Eucharist on Wednesday at 12:10 PM and on Thursday morning at 7:00 AM. Midweek attendance is increasing, and there is no better time for you to begin attending than in pre-Lent. Receiving the Blessed Sacrament in the midst of a busy week will refresh you and change your life, but you don't have to take my word for it, come and experience the blessings for yourself.

Choir practice will be held on Wednesday evening at 6:15 PM.

Ash Wednesday is on March 5th this year. Ash Wednesday Services start at 6:30 PM.  

This Sunday we will begin an overview of the Book of Revelation in our adult Christian Education class. This will not be a flight of fantasy, but a sober look at this important book in light of what Christians have historically believed about it. If you do not want to be misled by pop eschatology and want to be able to make sense of this important book, then you will want to be in class at 9:00 AM on Sunday. Invite your friends!

On Sunday I plan to administer the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (Holy Unction) during our 10:00 AM celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This sacrament of healing is available to anyone who is physically, mentally or emotionally ill. Those seeking the Lord's healing touch will be invited to come and kneel at the communion rail immediately after the General Confession and Absolution in the Liturgy.

We do not rush through Sunday mornings at Holy Cross parish. Sunday is the Lord's Day, not the Lord's forty-five minutes before we rush out the door to begin "our" day. We take our Faith very seriously here. Services are reverent and prayerful, and the preaching is expository. Many years ago an elderly priest whom I greatly respected gave me a small sign to put in my sacristy. The sign read, "Priest of God, celebrate this Mass as though it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass." I have always taken that message to heart. Before the celebration of every Eucharistic Liturgy the priest and his assistants pray Psalm 43. "And that I may go unto the altar of God, even unto the God of my joy and gladness" (Ps. 43:4, 1928 BCP p. 394). Is God your joy and gladness? Do you approach the holy altar with joy and gladness? Do you view coming to worship as an obligation to get over with as quickly as possible, or as an opportunity to gather with the family of God at the feet of Jesus? How should we view coming to church? The Bible tells us: "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" (Gen. 28:17 NKJV). "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be ye thankful unto him, and bless His Name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations" (Ps. 100:4-5 KJV).

Sunday School begins at 9:00 AM, followed by Morning Prayer at 9:30 AM and the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Nursery care for children under the age of four is available during our 10:00 AM Liturgy. Our monthly potluck luncheon follows Worship. We are a faithful, friendly and active congregation and we have a place for you! I'll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Wishing you every grace and blessing,

Father+

V. Rev. Victor E. Novak
Rector
HOLY CROSS PARISH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
www.holycrossomaha.net
www.holycrossmedia.com
Rectory: (402) 687-9458
Church:  (402) 573-6558

Friday, February 7, 2014

HOLY CROSS UPDATE

Dear friends in Christ,

It has been very cold out this week, with schools closed and Services cancelled on Wednesday. I know that I really missed celebrating the Holy Eucharist and receiving Holy Communion on Wednesday. John Wesley received the Sacrament of Holy Communion twice a week from the year he was ordained until the year he died. He couldn't live without it. The Blessed Sacrament is God's great gift to his children. There is no better way to foster a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In the Holy Eucharist time and eternity, heaven and earth come together, and past is made present. The Holy Eucharist begins in the Upper Room where Jesus instituted it, but does not end there. It continues on taking us to Mount Calvary and Christ's sacrificial death upon the cross for our redemption where we re-plead the one oblation of himself once offered, and then go on to commemorate Christ's resurrection and his ascension. In the Prayer of Consecration we pray, "we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same."

The Holy Eucharist is the center and summit of our spirituality. Remembering our Lord's teaching recorded in chapter six of St. John's Gospel we pray, "Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen." 

It is always tragic when Christians who know their Faith and have experienced the sacramental life absent themselves from the Eucharist. Yes, we can pray at home and we must pray at home, but at his Last Supper Jesus commanded his apostles to "do this," the Holy Eucharist, in remembrance of him. Jesus said that without the Eucharist we have no life in us (John 6). The Eucharist has always been, from the beginning of Christianity, the center and summit of Christian spirituality: the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's Day to celebrate and partake of the Lord's Supper. When we begin to absent ourselves from the Sunday Eucharist we begin to grow weak spiritually. We either repent and return to the Blessed Sacrament or we eventually fall away from the Faith. Many fall away, but only those who finish the race receive the crown.

While the commandments to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourself are the two greatest commandments, the fourth commandment of the Decalogue is critical to our spiritual lives. No matter what we are doing, no matter what sins may have entangled us, if we continue to attend the Holy Eucharist each and every Sunday we will hear God's Word read and then explained by the priest, will hear an invitation to repent of sin and make a general confession, and if truly repentant will have an opportunity to answer a real altar call and to kneel before the altar and receive Christ back into our lives through the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion "that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us."

We don't go to church on Sunday. The church is not merely a building. The word church means, congregation, assembly, community. We are the church. We are the family of God, and we come together in the Lord's house on the Lord's Day to partake of the Lord's Supper. As members of a local congregation, a local church family, we have responsibilities to one another — to love and serve one another. The local parish is a school of charity, a school of love, where we learn to love, serve and value one another, warts and all. Our attitude toward our local church should be, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy, Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.

The Sunday Eucharist is really the minimum to keep us alive spiritually, but if we really want to grow in discipleship and holiness we need to receive the Blessed Sacrament frequently. At Holy Cross parish we celebrate the Holy Eucharist three times every week, and one week of the month we celebrate it four times. It is possible to receive Holy Communion frequently at Holy Cross parish. Jesus says, "Come unto me all ye that travail [labour] and are heavy laden [weary] and I will refresh you" (Matt. xi. 28). We hear those words of Christ every time we gather to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. We celebrate the Holy Eucharist every Wednesday at 12:10 PM and every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM. The Wednesday Eucharist concludes at 12:50 PM and the Thursday Eucharist at 7:40 AM. The Wednesday Eucharist can be attended over the lunch hour and the Thursday Eucharist will end in time for you to get to work by 8:00 AM. Leave right after receiving Holy Communion if you must, but come. Receiving the Blessed Sacrament in the midst of a busy week will change your life. Come and be blessed!

This Sunday our music director will be back and our choir and Gregorian chant returns to the Eucharistic Liturgy. There is nothing as close to heaven on earth as a sung Eucharist.

A big thank you to Hannah F. for updating our parish website. Do be sure to share our website address with others. We have a great one! It is an easy way to reach out and introduce people to Holy Cross parish. Do the work of an evangelist! Our website address is: www.holycrossomaha.net

This Sunday I will be teaching on the anti-christ in our adult Christian Education class. We will look at every verse of Scripture that mentions the anti-christ. If you have ever wondered what the Bible teaches on this topic you will have an opportunity to learn all about it as we "rightly divide the word of truth." Class begins at 9:00 AM. Invite your friends and plan to be there!

The food bin is filling up fast, let's try to fill it to overflowing this Sunday so this much needed food can be taken to the Open Door Mission. In February we contributed 550 pounds of food to the Open Door Mission. Between our food donations to the Open Door Mission and our bread deliveries to the Francis and Sienna House shelters we are feeding a lot of very needy people. We should be very thankful that God, in His mercy, is allowing us to have a part in feeding so many. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Next Wednesday we will celebrate the Holy Eucharist at 12:10 PM and on Thursday morning at 7:00 AM. I cannot think of a better reason to skip a meal or a better investment of your time. Come and be blessed!

Sunday School is at 9:00 AM, followed by Morning Prayer at 9:30 AM and the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Nursery care for children under the age of four is available during the 10:00 AM Service. Fellowship and refreshments follow Worship in our new parish hall.

We are a faithful, friendly and active congregation, and we have a place for you. I'll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Wishing you every grace and blessing,  

Father+

V. Rev. Victor E. Novak
Rector
HOLY CROSS PARISH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
www.holycrossomaha.net
www.holycrossmedia.com
Rectory: (402) 687-9458
Church:  (402) 573-6558

Friday, January 24, 2014

THE 41st ANNIVERSARY OF ROE V. WADE

Wednesday of this week was the 41st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing abortion on demand. Since then somewhere between 52 and 54 million pre-born children have been killed in their mothers’ womb. That is well over 3,000 children per day, and one third of all babies conceived in America every year since 1973; and it is also big business, raking in vast profits for the abortion industry. 

One clergyman wrote on his blog:

“Roe v. Wade: A 41 Year Long Holocaust

You can sanitize the language but its still murder. Abortion has desensitized us to the reality of what is happening when an unborn life is terminated. How long before the judgment of God comes upon a people who do this?”

He concluded his message with these words:

“I submit that the unborn children of anyone have a right to fulfill their dreams as well and to a safe community and to health, and actually to life. Let's not let this anniversary, let's not let any day, let's not let any of this go by without really understanding what is taking place not only in the United States and Canada, but around the world with all of these abortions and the culture of death, the culture of murder that has been fostered, promoted, and now just sanitized away with language like this and so much more than we could bring out.

We are talking about murder. We are talking about taking the life of a child from the womb of its mother. Let's not forget that... but let me leave you with one scripture from Deuteronomy 30:19. God says through Moses to not just Israel but to all of us,’Choose life that both you and your descendants might live.’ That's God's teaching. That's God's instruction.”

Think about it for a moment. “Abortion has desensitized us to the reality of what is happening when an unborn life is terminated. How long before the judgment of God comes upon a people who do this?”

God often punishes us by letting us have what we want. This is known in Scripture as the law of sowing and reaping. America has sown the wind and is reaping the whirlwind. The generation that cried out for abortion on demand is now finding their children and grandchildren calling for the killing of the elderly through euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, and soon the right to die will become the duty to die. America has killed a whole generation, 52 to 55 million innocent lives violently snuffed out because they were “inconvenient,” “unplanned” or “too costly.” That is more than twice the entire population of Canada! These slaughtered Americans are being replaced with mass third world immigration which threatens to change our country forever. We have indeed sown the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind... but there is hope!

Despite the freezing temperatures and winter storms many thousands of patriotic, pro-life Americans turned out for the March for Life in Washington, DC. The pro-abortion counter-demonstrators who normally number only a handful didn’t even show up this year. Their counter-demonstration was cancelled due to the weather. Not only did this year’s March For Life demonstrate the commitment and fortitude of the movement, but much has been accomplished at the grass roots and 2014 promises to be a year in which even more ground is won back in this culture war for the soul of America. You can read all about it in an excellent article by clicking this link: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/01/22/march-for-life .

Abortion never solves anything. It always leaves at least two victims: one dead and one wounded. As Christians we need to love them both. We need to pray and work to stop this genocide, and reach out to the wounded with the gospel, giving them the opportunity for repentance, forgiveness and healing. There is forgiveness and the promise of a new life to all who will repent. Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, has come to Christ, experienced a new life, and now works to end abortion. Her book, Won By Love, is eye opening and encouraging, and her story has given new hope to those wounded by abortion.

While godly men and women all across America were mourning the 41st anniversary of the beginning of this genocide, the Left was celebrating it. Jesus said that the devil was a liar and murder from the beginning, and the father of lies; and the devil continues to lie about abortion and to twist the facts, and this father of death continues his efforts to advance the culture of death and spread the killing from the pre-born to the elderly, the sick and the disabled.

Barrack Hussein Obama issued a short pro-abortion statement commemorating the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. You can read his entire statement and a response from First Things titled, “Eight Lies in President Obama’s Roe Statement” by clicking here: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/01/eight-lies-in-president-obamas-roe-statement .

There is a very heartwarming article and short video on the Internet about one of those disposable, handicapped pre-born children whom doctors tried five times to get the mother to abort. I hope that you will take a couple of minutes to see it. Here is the link: http://gma.yahoo.com/toddler-overcomes-spine-crushing-dwarfism-become-internet-singing-103737270--abc-news-health.html

This week I read an article from another clergyman who leads an American Christian denomination. He is a conservative Christian, but I found what he wrote about the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade very sad. He wrote, “I am Sighing and Crying. What am I supposed to do? A shameful benchmark came and went yesterday: the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade...” So far, so good, but then he wrote, “But I can’t do anything about it. All I can do is express my outrage, but to go beyond that is futily opposing increased moral sliding... This slide is irreversible...”

This Christian leader believes that things are supposed to get worse and worse, and that trying to do anything about it is futile. We have heard this same message coming from Christian radio and TV, and from countless pulpits. According to these voices, trying to do anything is like polishing the brass on a sinking ship or arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This message of hopelessness, defeat and retreat has sidelined millions of Christians and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than being salt and light in society it has reduced many Christians to being mere spectators watching the collapse of Western Christian civilization.

This was not the view of the early Church who literally turned the world upside down. This was not the view of our Christian forbearers who built Christendom in Europe. This was not the view of those brave Christians who bled to stop the Moslem hordes at the gates of Vienna or who drove the Moors from Spain and liberated the country from Islamic oppression. This was not the view of the Founding Fathers of our Republic who establish a new nation based on Christianity.  And this was not the view of the foreign missionaries who for centuries have given their lives to reach the world with the gospel. 

Many Christians, even otherwise orthodox Christians, become uncomfortable when a pastor speaks out about abortion. "Everyone knows we are against abortion," they reason, "so why talk about it? After all, it makes people uncomfortable and it is such a divisive issue." But being "against abortion" is not enough. We can't just be personally opposed to it while we fail to speak up because it makes people uncomfortable or because it is such a divisive issue in our polarized society. Pastors are called by God to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Abortion must be exposed for what it really is, and this genocide must be stopped. How? St. Augustine of Hippo points the way. He said, "Pray as though everything depends on God, and work as though everything depends on you."  


Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013: A YEAR OF BLESSINGS AT HOLY CROSS PARISH

A little reflection on the year 2013 reveals that we have a lot to celebrate as a parish. God has been with us every step of the way and has used us to touch many lives, and the future looks very bright indeed. The state of Holy Cross parish is strong. As we begin the new year we should take some time to reflect on our blessings and give thanks for them, and to make resolutions to take our discipleship even more seriously in 2014. Here are some of the blessings for which we should be thankful:

We had more people at church on the Fourth Sunday in Advent in 2013 than we had on the Fourth Sunday in Advent in 2012, and we had had more people at our Christmas Midnight Eucharist in 2013 than we had in 2012.

When the Vestry met in December we reviewed the parish finances for the year. They are solid. As of the end of November we had more money in the bank than we had on January 1, 2013.

In December we moved into our new parish hall. The new hall is almost double the size of our old parish hall. While we were overcrowded in the old hall we seem dwarfed in the new hall, but that is a good feeling. It gives us plenty of space for expansion.

In 2013 we contributed 4,997 pounds, or about two and a half tons of much needed food to the Open Door Mission. That is more than four times our original goal and an absolutely amazing amount of food! In addition, our first  donation of food for 2014 was taken to the Open Door Mission this week and it totaled 300 pounds. By God's grace we are feeding a lot of very needy people.

In 2013 we delivered a vast amount of donated gourmet bread to the Francis and Siena House Shelters. Deliveries are made every Friday and one Saturday of the month, and I am told that each delivery is around 150 pounds of bread. We are currently supplying the three largest homeless shelters in Omaha with much needed food. Holy Cross is making a real difference in the lives of real people.

In 2013 we partnered with Samaritan's Purse and participated in Operation Christmas Child. Holy Cross parishioners sent many boxes of Christmas gifts to children in third world countries touching them with the love of Jesus and giving them hope and an opportunity to go on and study God's Word.

In 2013 we incorporated Gregorian chant into the Eucharistic Liturgy. Every Sunday this ancient chant is used for the minor propers in the Holy Eucharist.

At Christmas time in 2012 we established a Vested Choir at Holy Cross parish. This dedicated choir sacrifices an evening of their time every week and has blessed the parish with their music ministry throughout 2013 and into 2014. 

We now celebrate the Holy Eucharist at Holy Cross parish three times every week - Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, in addition to Holy Days. We are truly a Eucharist-centered parish and everyone has an opportunity to receive the Blessed Sacrament frequently. We also celebrate the Holy Eucharist one Saturday per month in the chapel of Douglas County Hospital, bringing the gospel and the sacraments to long-term residents that are all too often completely cut off from any church community.

We are a Bible preaching and Bible teaching church where the Word of God is proclaimed and explained from the pulpit and where our adult Christian education class is taught at the college level. Parishioners at Holy Cross parish have every opportunity to partake of the sincere milk of the Word, advance to strong spiritual meat, and grow into mature disciples of Christ.

We are a praying church. We take prayer very, very seriously at Holy Cross parish. Prayer requests are taken every Sunday and we devote time for serious prayer, praying for people by name and by need. In addition, we have a well organized and active parish Prayer Chain whose members are committed to pray for those serious and immediate needs that sometimes unexpectedly occur. 

Some churches are veritable burial societies, but by God's grace we had no funerals in the parish in 2013. In fact, since we began meeting for worship in a conference room of the Holiday Inn Express in the summer of 2007, we have had only one death in the parish. Only one in six and a half years. We have much to be thankful for!

Holy Cross parish is truly a united, traditional and active Orthodox Anglican Church serving Omaha and the surrounding communities. The uncompromised Word of God is proclaimed and taught, the sacraments are administered with reverence, real prayer is a priority, and the great hymns of the Church are sung, all in an atmosphere of love with an emphasis on the church as a community, as the family of God, rather than merely an institution or a building.

These are just a few of the blessings that we should be thankful for. During this Christmas season we remember that God so loved the world that in the fullness of time He sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem us from sin and death. Jesus gave his life for us that we might have life and that more abundantly, and he established his church where we could be united in fellowship with him and with a spiritual family, and where we might hear and learn the Word of God, receive the sacraments of grace, especially baptism and Holy Communion, be empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and continue Christ's work in the world. Jesus gave his life for us. What more could he give? Many professed Christians are merely spectators or spiritual consumers. "What am I getting out of church they often ask?" But our attitude should be much different. To paraphrase President Kennedy, ask not what your church can do for you, but ask what you can do for your church! The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers means that we are all ministers, and that means that we should all have a ministry in the church. Our mission is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him and the fulness of the apostolic faith to those who do, and to build up the Body of Christ. May God continue to bless us with an even greater and more effective minisrtry in 2014. May we be the first pebble that begins the avalanche that will be the New Evangelization of America and a renewal of the universal call to holiness. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

HOLY CROSS UPDATE

HOLY CROSS PARISH NEWS

Christmas Midnight Mass

We will celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at Holy Cross parish with a Midnight Mass on December 25th. Jesus is the reason for the season, and there is no better way to begin the celebration of his birth than by coming together for Worship. The Liturgy will include our vested choir and Gregorian chant. Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year! A Christmas party in our new parish hall will follow worship. Everyone is invited to bring Christmas goodies to share at the party.  Our processional hymn will be Adeste Fideles, so "come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem... O Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord." Everyone is always welcome!

New Parish Hall

Holy Cross parish continues to expand. In December we moved into our new parish hall which is about twice as large as our old one. 

Ministry to Those in Need

Our final food donation to the Open Door Mission for 2013 was made last week. It totaled 298 pounds of food! When we began this ministry our goal was 100 pounds of food per month, totaling 1,200 pounds for the year.  We finished 2013 with a total of 4,997 pounds of food, more than four times our original goal and only three pound short of 2.5 tons. Imagine, Holy Cross has provided the Open Door Mission with about two and a half tons of food this year! In addition, deliveries of large amounts of donated gourmet bread are made to the Francis and Siena House Shelters every week. We don't just talk about helping the poor at Holy Cross parish, we are impacting the lives of those most in need all year long. 

Holy Cross Parish Website

Our parish website has been updated and it looks great! If you haven't had a chance to visit it yet I hope that you will and that you will tell your friends about it. I have already been getting positive feedback from around the country. The address is: www.holycrossomaha.net

Christmas Season

Christmas is not a one day event for Christians. The Christmas season begins on December 25th and lasts twelve days until the Epiphany on January 6th. Join us for Christmas Midnight Mass and enjoy the Christmas celebration from Christmas Day until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday Morning Prayer is at 9:30 AM, followed by the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Christian Education will resume after Epiphany. Nursery Care for children under the age of four is available during our 10:00 AM Liturgy. Fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall follow Services. Jesus is the reason for the season and wise men still seek him!  We are a faithful and friendly congregation and we have a place for you. I'll be looking forward to seeing you soon! 

Wishing you every grace and blessing,

Fr. Victor Novak+
Rector