Dear friends in Christ,
Greetings in the Name of our Lord!
This Update is going out to the members and friends of Holy Cross parish. Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who you think may be interested in it.
Cheri and I returned late last night from our trip this week to celebrate the Feast of of St. Benedict of Nursia, a great Father of Western monasticism, and to meet with Metropolitan Jonah and other Orthodox Christian clergy. It was a long trip, a busy week, but a blessed experience. I was able to serve an Eastern Rite Vigil with Metropolitan Jonah on Wednesday evening. Vigil consists of Vespers immediately followed by Matins (Evening and Morning Prayer). We began at 6:30 PM and concluded around 9:00 PM, after which the clergy and their wives had a fasting meal together.
On Thursday morning I concelebrated a hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the Metropolitan at which a deacon was ordained to the presbyterate. There were clergy participating from Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington DC, along with a Greek priest all the way from Great Britain. The Eucharistic Liturgy began at 9:00 AM, with the formal meeting of the Metropolitan at the church, and concluded just after 11:30 AM. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was followed by a celebratory luncheon.
After the ordination, Metropolitan Jonah called the new priest, his Matushka and their four children to stand before him, and he reminded the congregation that the priest stands before the altar of God, hears confessions and gives blessings, but the priest's wife does about everything else. And he is right! A priest's wife should be among most active people in the parish, and they usually are. I know Matushka Cheri has been that way throughout my thirty years of ordained ministry.
The church where we met was beautiful. It has about as many members as we do at Holy Cross. They began in 1983, in a leased facility in a strip mall, much like we are in now. About ten years ago they built a beautiful brick church and parish hall, with a large parking lot. They even hired an iconographer from Russia who came to America for a year to paint icons for the church and frescos on the walls. Beautiful!
Metropolitan Jonah is a former Episcopalian who joined the Orthodox Church and later became a monk. For twelve years he was the abbot of a monastery in California, later becoming a bishop in the southern United States, and then Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America. He has since retired from that office, and is in the process of founding a new monastery where he will serve as abbot. Three of the four Orthodox bishops that I have worked with in the past two years are converts to Orthodoxy!
Metropolitan Jonah has been a great friend of Orthodox Anglicans. He spoke to the Provincial Assemblies of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and 2012, and in 2013 I arranged for him to address the national conference of the Fellowship of Concerned Church (FCC) - the organization that sponsored the great St. Louis Church Congress in 1977, that launched the continuing Anglican movement. I was able to have some significant discussions with the Metropolitan and he has a continuing affection our Anglican brethren and is committed to working to bring them into full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Jonah repeatedly told me how eager he is to visit Holy Cross parish and to spend time with us. We need to be thinking about sponsoring a visit from his Beatitude.
For your further study I am attaching a link to a very helpful article called, "Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament?" It was written by Fr. James Bernstein, a former non-Christian Jew, who later became an Orthodox Christian and an Orthodox priest. I hope that you will take the time to read this important educational paper. Here is the link:
Have you ever thought about becoming a short term missionary? The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) needs ten more short term missionary volunteers for upcoming mission trips. The OCMC asked me to post this in our newsletter or bulletin:
You Are Needed for a 2014 OCMC Mission Team!
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is seeking 10 volunteers to help fill teams that will serve in Albania, Tanzania and Uganda later this year. The Albania team departing on September 17th will lead spiritual retreats for clergy wives, women lay leaders and women's groups. The Tanzania team departing on October 27th will offer theological training for the clergy of the Metropolis of Mwanza. And, the Uganda team, also departing on October 27th will offer Christian stewardship workshops to clergy and laity in various communities. Are you able to serve on one of these teams? If so, you are urgently needed! Without 10 additional volunteers these teams may not go. Please visit http://www.ocmc.org/about/open_teams.aspx, or contact OCMC’s Teams Department by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-877-463-6784 for more information and to apply.
This coming Sunday is our monthly potluck luncheon. Members of our church family are asked to bring a main dish, or a side dish and a desert or drink. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing. Please be sure to invite family and friends. Our monthly potlucks are always a wonderful time at Holy Cross, with plenty of good food and warm fellowship.
Please mark your calendars for the following upcoming parish activities:
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21st,
Our annual Summer Church Picnic will be held immediately after Services at Halleck Park in Papillion. Once again we will have a covered pavilion and will be grilling hamburgers and hotdogs. Please invite your family and friends to this annual fun event.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28th,
I will be celebrating thirty years in the ordained ministry with a Solemn Liturgy, followed by a catered luncheon sponsored by the Sisters of Holy Cross. I hope that you will plan to be there to celebrate this holy anniversary with me and to pray that the next thirty years of ministry will be fruitful.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25th,
Our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck at Santa's Woods will begin at 5:30 PM. The evening starts with a hayrack ride through the fields of a working farm. After the ride the hay wagon will take us to our secluded site where a roaring bonfire will await us. There will be picnic tables and electricity for coffee pots and crock pots. We will enjoy a wonderful potluck supper under the stars, and then roast marsh mellows in the fire.
There are two other activities being planned if there is enough interest:
Saturday evening, August 16th, the Omaha Storm Chasers baseball team is sponsoring a night of baseball, fireworks and Christian music. If at least ten people are interested in attending we can buy blocks of tickets for only $8.00 each. There will be a sign-up sheet at church on Sunday. Invite family and friends and sign-up on Sunday!
I have been contacted by the Omaha Symphony. If we have at least ten people who would like to attend the Omaha Symphony's Christmas Spectacular we can purchase tickets at 50% off! This is for the opening performance of the season: Thursday evening, December 18th, at 7:00 PM. I know that Matushka Cheri and I are excited about this. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! The cost varies by seating location, and we can mix and match seating, so you can pick a seat that fits your budget. The discounted prices range from $45.00 for box seats to only $8.00, with four other prices in between. There will be a sign up sheet at church on Sunday.
At Holy Cross parish we pray hard, work hard for the Lord and His people, and play hard. The Christian life is the Good life at Holy Cross Orthodox Church!
Please do not forget the poor this week. Our parish food bins are about a third full. The needs are great at the Open Door Mission. Let's try to fill the bins to overflowing on Sunday so a donation can be taken to the mission. Thank you!
Next week, Mid-week Services will be held as usual, with the exception that Choir Practice has been moved from now on to Thursdays at 6:15 PM.
As always, Saturday evening Vespers are at 6:30 PM, followed by a study of the book Children of the Promise. Children of the Promise is an introduction to Western Orthodoxy.
Sunday Morning Prayer (Matins) is at 9:30 AM, followed by the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Our monthly potluck luncheon immediately follows the Liturgy. We are a faithful, friendly and active church, and we have a place for you. I hope to see you on Sunday!
Wishing you every grace and blessing,