Yesterday was the Feast of the Ascension of Christ. We celebrated the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist and our vested Choir led us in the singing. It was a joyful celebration and a blessing to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We are just nine days away from the Feast of Pentecost, often called Whitsunday. On that first Pentecost after the Ascension of our Lord the Holy Spirit was been poured out on the Church and He lives in the Church. The Holy Spirit fills and empowers the Church and leads her in the way of truth. We are very members incorporate in the Church, the Body of Christ. Pentecost has historically been considered the birthday of the Church and we remember that birthday every year at Holy Cross.
This Sunday is the Sunday after the Ascension and the celebration of our Lord's Ascension continues. I will be delivering an important sermon on heaven and the Saints of God in glory this Sunday. You will not want to miss this message.
There was a front page article with a full colour picture about Holy Cross on the cover of the May 21st edition of the Ralston Recorder. The title of the article was: "Orthodox bishop's visit a connection to early church." The title says it all! The full colour picture is of Bishop George of Mayfield, flanked by Fr. Michael Smith and myself, along with two visiting Orthodox priests - Fr. John Filipovich and Fr. Anthony Nelson. The article will be posted on the bulletin board in the parish hall.
Fr. Anthony and Fr. John will be returning to Omaha next month per our request, to give Fr. Michael and I instruction in the Eastern Rite. While Holy Cross is a Western Rite parish, this instruction will help Fr. Michael and I to be fully integrated with brother clergy of the Eastern Rite who make up the majority of Orthodox Christian clergy. This will be especially helpful when we worship with Eastern Rite clergy at clergy meetings and retreats.
Thanks to the generosity of a family in the parish we will be running weekly ads for the church in five suburban newspapers, including The Base (Stratcom and the Airbase), for sixteen (16) weeks! These will be large 1x2 inch ads, and they will run weekly from June 4th through September 16th. We will also be listed on a website called Midlandschurches.com. I am very excited about these ads and the wonderful exposure that it will give our church.
The St. Joseph's Guild has been putting in many hours of hard work building a new credence table for the church to replace the white pillars in the sanctuary. I have not seen the finished table yet, but I am told that it will be beautiful. There will be gold leaf Christian symbols on the front and on both sides. If all goes according to plan the new credence table should be in the church and in use this Sunday. A big thank you to the hard working members of the St. Joseph's Guild!
If you have not seen our newly renovated chapel I invite you to worship with us this Sunday. The chapel is already beautiful, and there is more to come. The nave is surrounded by icons of the Saints of the British Isles reminding us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Walking into the chapel you get the distinct feeling that you are on holy ground, and your eyes are drawn immediately to the holy altar and the tabernacle that is in its midst. Come and experience the presence of the Lord for yourself!
So far this year we have provided the Open Door Mission with 2,260 lbs of food, and delivered untold hundreds of pounds of gourmet bread donations to the Francis and Siena House shelters. We are making a real difference in the lives of countless hurting and very needy people. Few of us can even imagine what it must be like to have to rely on a homeless shelter for housing and/or food. Let's get our parish food bin refilled as quickly as possible so more desperately needed food can be taken to the Open Door Mission. Please bring a food donation with you on Sunday if you can. Thank you.
Christian Education classes have ended for the Summer. When classes resume in September, Michael D. will be teaching the adult class. Morning Prayer (Matins) continues as usual at 9:30 AM, followed by the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM.
Vespers, commonly called Evening Prayer, is prayed in our chapel every Saturday evening at 6:30 PM. This Service of prayer and Scripture lessons is a wonderful way to prepare for the Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy. It is a short Service that takes less than thirty minutes, but the investment of your time will bring tremendous spiritual benefits. For those who choose to remain after Vespers, Fr. Michael will be leading a study session in the parish hall. He is using the book, "Children of the Promise." I hope that you will come to Saturday evening Vespers whenever you are free, and that you will consider staying for the study if you can. Remember, Saturday evening at 6:30 PM!
Next week the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated on Wednesday at 12:10 PM and on Thursday morning at 7:00 AM. Nothing will help you to grow spiritually like participating in a mid-week celebration of the Holy Eucharist. These Liturgies last only forty minutes, but they will change your life! The Sacrament of Holy Communion is the bread of life. Come and partake freely of this great gift.
Confessions are heard every Wednesday from 11:15 to 11:45 AM, Thursday from 6:15 to 6:45 AM, and by appointment. You may also come forward to receive this Sacrament during the praying of the psalms and canticles at Morning Prayer on Sundays. The Sacrament of Confession is a wonderful gift of God that is too little used today. In this Sacrament we can unburden ourselves and receive the sure promise of absolution, as well as spiritual counsel and direction to help us overcome the sins that so easily beset us, and whatever is said in Confession is under the seal. The Sacrament of Confession is for everyone, including priests - especially priests. I went to confession to Bishop George when we was with us earlier this month. What a blessing it is to receive personal counsel and spiritual direction fitted to your particular needs and struggles, and hear the words of absolution. You feel clean all over.
The Sisters of Holy Cross held their last meeting until September on the first Wednesday in May, so there will be no women's meeting next week. However, the Women's Group is still working on a number of summer projects. There will be a fund-raising Father's Day Bake Sale on June 15th. A Summer Church Picnic and a Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck are all in the planning stages as well.
There will be no Choir practice this coming Wednesday evening.
Our mission at Holy Cross parish is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him and the fullness of the Apostolic Faith to those who do. 80% of all the people who join any church this year will do so because they were invited by a friend or family member. Let us each do the work of an evangelist in our family circle and among our circle and friends. It can be as easy as inviting people to church, but you must be persistent. It often takes a lot of asking to overcome inertia, so keep asking! Never give up on anyone! The harvest field is ready, but the labourers are few. The Bible promises, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:3). Let us be busy about our Father's business!
Sunday Morning Prayer is at 9:30 AM, followed by the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with refreshments and fellowship in the parish hall after the Liturgy. Nursery care for children under the age of four is available during our 10:00 AM Eucharist, but children of all ages are always welcome in the chapel during worship.
We are a faithful, friendly and active church, and we have a place for you. If you have any questions or need directions feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (402) 573-6558. I'll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!