Calendar of Events (2011)
Saturday - Vespers at 6:00 P.M.
Sunday - Matins at 9:15 A.M. - Divine Liturgy 10:00 A.M.
Confessions* - by appointment only
* The times of other special or seasonal worship services will be announced.
• January: Memorial Service for Archbishop Valerian, Mother Alexandra and Archmandrite Martinian Jan. 30.
• February: Memorial Saturdays.
• March: Memorial Saturdays.
• April: Holy Week Services, Pascha.
• Men's Retreat, April 12-14
• May: Mother's Day
• June: Father's Day
• July: Prophet Elijah Vespers Service.
• August: Prayer Services to the Virgin Mary.
• September: Church year begins, our church's feastday. All ministries begon their agenda.
• October: Protection of the Theotokos.
• November: Christmas Party, Nativity Fast begins.
• December: St. Nicholas, Christmas Pageant, Christmas Carolling, Christmas.
The Church Community
Recently my husband and I had an appointment at the bank with a new Financial Advisor. This young man could do all the advising he would like, there’s not much finance to talk about. However, we did find much more to talk about. During the conversation he mentioned that he was of Ukrainian background and came from Winnipeg. Well, you don’t tell a priest that you come from an Orthodox background (and a city we’re familiar with) and not expect to get a reaction. At least not this priest. So Father asked “ what church do you go to here?’ The confident young banker was now thrown for a loop and didn‘t know what to say. Finally he said “I don’t”. As he got his confidence back he said “I don’t feel like I need a middle man to do my work for me”. “Well,” I said, not so much under my breath “you picked the wrong person” because I knew it wasn’t going to stop there. Father was very gentle and tried to reach him on his level and while the two of them were talking my mind started thinking (and hence this article) – why do people think that church, clergy, and the Sacraments are ‘middle men’? Why do they not think that professors, bankers, etc are not middle men? And what could we tell someone is the benefit of ‘church’
Ekklesia is the Greek word that has been translated to ‘church’ but properly translated it means ‘assembly’ or ‘congregation’ – a group of persons who are organized together for a common purpose. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
There is much literature on Church as a Community. They discuss ethics and morality, history of church assemblies and scriptural references, but what does that mean to us, today, when confronted by someone who says they can ‘pray on the top of a mountain’ as well as pray in church? Why do people come or why do people NOT come to church? I see a few reasons:
People get their ideas of church from what they remembered from their parents and grandparents – these are usually good experiences. They were brought up with traditions, excitement, other children and not a lot of outside interference when it came to the idea of going to church. As they grew up, they had to make a commitment away from Bunica , that brought them to church for themselves.
People get their ideas of church from their past experience of church. Then as we grew up, things happened- we had friends who didn’t go to church, or we became so entangled in worldly affairs that going to church was no longer a priority. Then the longer we stay away, the harder it is to go back to church. Usually a life event (Baptism, Death) brings us back into the fold and we recognize that which is familiar.
People get their ideas of church from the news. With the bad press that churches are getting on the news, it’s easy to say that you do not want to be a part of ‘that church’. This is like letting go of a friend because someone said something bad about him. Churches have problems just like families have problems and we have to work through them.
The church as a family. The church has long been thought of as a family. This is where we start our life with Baptism and end it with a funeral and everything in between. We gather on Sundays and other Holy days just as a family gathers around the dinner table. We pray, we cry, we laugh (not too loudly) and we experience our life in the church. For those who come to it, It becomes our home. It is where we learn about God and about our own relationship with God. God might be at the top of the mountain, but do we go there to work on our relationship with God? Have we sacrificed some time and effort just dedicated to God? Disciples dedicate themselves and that is what we are when we are called Christians- disciples of God. The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. Matthew 21:5-7
The church as a community. People come to church for many reasons. Sometimes a person is new in town and needs a friend, or maybe the traditions we spoke about earlier has flamed a spark and they want to come and see. Whatever the reason, community in the church is important. When a person enters into a church he is entering into a community of other people who are also Christians and disciples of God. They don’t all know the same, think the same or feel the same , but that’s what’s great about Orthodoxy- it has so many levels. It’s also where we go to be schooled. By hearing the Gospel, the sermon the hymns and prayers we learn about God. We all need teachers and couldn’t get a Phd on top of the mountain by ourselves. So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
Have you heard someone say "I'm a part of a church but I don't attend very often" That’s it would be like if you invited them to a party at your house "I'm having a little gathering of friends on Sunday night. Can you come?" and they answered, "Sure, I'll be a part of your gathering, but I won't be able to attend." You'd be downright confused by their answer, because being a part of a gathering means being physically present.
The assembly is not the assembly when it isn't assembled.
We cannot be part of Christ with being part of His family, His church, His Life. We need the ‘middle man’ because Christ is our middle man. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,1 Timothy 2:4-6