Dear friends in Christ,
This Update contains a lot of important information. Please read it over carefully. Thank you!
Sunday, December 20
We will be putting up a Christmas tree and decorating the church and parish hall this Sunday during fellowship and refreshment time after Services. This is always a joyful time at Holy Cross parish. A big thank you to Subdeacon Michael and Tari C. who generously provide the church with a Christmas tree and evergreen hangings each year. Everyone is invited to bring poinsettias this Sunday to decorate the church. Let us make the House of God beautiful for this Holy Season!
FESTIVAL OF LESSONS AND CAROLS
Thursday evening, December 24, at 7:00 PM
We will have an Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols on Thursday evening, December 24th, at 7:00 PM. This will be the first time that we have kept this beautiful English tradition at Holy Cross parish and I am very excited about it. Everyone loves to hear the Christmas story from the Holy Scriptures and to sing Christmas carols, so I am sure that the Festival of Lessons and Carols will become an annual favorite.
The lessons begin in Genesis 3, the first prophecy promising a Redeemer that God gave man immediately after the fall, and continues with Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament, and then the Christmas story as told in the Gospel according to Sts. Matthew, Luke and John. The lessons or readings from Holy Scripture alternate with Christmas carols such as O Little Town of Bethlehem, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Silent Night, What Child is This?, O Come All Ye Faithful, and more, for a total of nine lessons and ten carols.
There is no sermon preached in this Festival because none is needed. The lessons and carols proclaim the Message of Christmas clearly and joyfully. If you have family or friends who wonder about the real meaning of Christmas you will want to bring them to this Festival of Lessons and Carols. They will be blessed, inspired, and will have a wonderful time.
After the Festival we will have refreshments in our parish hall. Members of our church family are asked to bring holiday refreshments to share. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing. This will be a joyful evening and everyone will leave knowing that Jesus is the reason for the Advent and Christmas seasons and will understand the true meaning of Christmas, so please be sure to invite family and friends. O Come All Ye Faithful!
PARISH FOOD BINS
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to our parish food bins and to Paul N. who delivered our most recent donation of food to the Open Door Mission. By the grace of God we were able to contribute another 374 pounds of much needed food to feed those most in need. Our food bins are now empty, but the needs are great. I would like us to be able to make one more delivery of food to the Open Door Mission before the end of the year and we have only two Sundays remaining in 2015. As we look forward to time with family and friends and to joyful dinners, let us not forget those who struggle to feed themselves and their children. Let us redouble our efforts, increase our giving of food, and refill our parish food bins so another delivery can be made before the year ends. Thank you!
YEAR END GIVING
Everyone receives gifts at Christmas time, but the One whose Birth we are celebrating is often forgotten. We are coming to the end of the year and this is a wonderful time to make a special offering to Holy Cross parish. Donations to churches are tax deductible so instead of giving your money in taxes why not make a special offering to Holy Cross parish so that we may more effectively advance the Work of Christ’s Church. Thank you!
ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
Our parish librarian, Ben J., has begun a new series of Christian Ed classes on the theme of Advent and Christmas. This is his third Advent season teaching on this topic, and I look forward to it every year. Ben is a life-long Christian with a Master Degree in history. Believe me, you will learn a lot in this class and will be edified as well. Class begins on Sunday morning at 8:45 AM. I hope to see you there!
No Services on December 23 and 30
The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will not be celebrated on Wednesday, December 23, or Wednesday, December 30. The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 6th, at 6:30 PM for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our regular Wednesday midday Mass will resume on Wednesday, January13, at 12:10 PM.
Have you read the Advent issue of The Wonderworker? The Wonderworker is the official publication of the ROCOR Western Rite Orthodox Communities. You can download it for free from the ROCOR Western Rite Facebook page, the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page, or from the ROCOR Western Rite website. I hope that you will take time to read it so you can keep up with what is happening in the ROCOR Western Rite Communities.
Christmas isn't a birthday party, - it is a Mass. Let us keep Christ in Christmas and the Mass in Christmas. Christmas without Mass is not Christmas. We will celebrate a Solemn Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, a Solemn Mass, for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - Christmas - on Wednesday evening, January 6th (Christmas Eve according to the ancient Christian Calendar), at 6:30 PM. After Mass, a celebration will follow in the parish hall. By being on the Old Calendar we are blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas without commercialism, and to focus on the reason for the season and the true meaning of Christmas. All Christians in Great Britain and the American Colonies used the Old Calendar until the year 1752. When we united with the ancient Orthodox Church we returned to the ancient Calendar of our forefathers. Please be sure to invite family and friends to our Christmas Mass on Wednesday evening, January 6th, at 6:30 PM. Joy to the World!
Christian Education is at 8:45 AM, followed by Matins (Morning Prayer) at 9:15 AM, with the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Fellowship and refreshments follow Services in our parish hall. The Orthodox Church welcomes you. We are a faithful, friendly and active parish, and we have a place for you. I hope to see you on Sunday!
May God grant you every grace and blessing in this Advent Season,
Fr. Victor Novak
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127