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Christ Is Born! Glorify Him!
St. Luke Parish held it's annual Lenten Holy Supper on the Eve of the Nativity. This supper is pot luck style with the parishioners bringing different dishes that are non meat and non dairy. Tradition is that there should be twelve different dishes which is symbolic of the tweleve apostles and it should be eaten without pepper or knives. Pepper symbolizes arguments and knives the cutting of friendships. The parishioners gathered by candlelight for a short prayer service performed by Father Andrew which began the Holy Supper.
It is our tradition that the youngest read the following passage from Matthew 2: 1-12. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this , he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priest and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah,
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'"
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." When they heard the King, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they ahd opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Father Andrew blesses the honey, bread and garlic on the table.
Father Andrew then placed honey on the forehead of everyone with the words, "May we all love one another as the bee loves honey."
Next wine was shared by all saying "Unite us in Faith and Love."
Photo of the place setting. Parishioners share the unleavened Bread called Oplacki. Everyone takes a piece of garlic and eats it saying,"May God Spare us from all Evil."
The Lenten Holy Supper is served.
The evening culminated in the Christmas Vigil Service.
Nursing Home Service
One of St. Luke ministries is visiting nursing homes. Fr. Andrew, Subdeacon John and parishioners are celebrating a Typica service for the patients. The patients are invited to sing along although most are not Orthodox but represent many Christian faith groups. They enjoy the reading of the psalms.
After the regular sermon Fr. Andrew told the story about St. Nicholas and gave out coins made of Chocolate.
A Visit From St. Nicholas
The church school children presented a special program of singing Christmas carols. Christine is holding the microphone.
More singers using jingle bells.
The 2nd graders continued the program with a song about the baby Jesus. They sang so well that they did not need a microphone.
Just as they ended their singing, St. Nicholas arrived. He was truly a jolly old St. Nick with his ancient vestments, which I am told, were brand new. He even had a new Miter which was made for him by Anthea and presented to him before he arrived. Anthea is in charge of all Christmas decorations.
After checking if the Children were not naughty but nice he gave out golden coins which had chocolate centers. The children then went to their respective classrooms and put their shoes by the door. St. Nicholas visited each class room and put candy canes in the shoes.
Children's Sermon on St. Nicholas
Every year Fr. Andrew reads a story to the children about the life of St. Nicholas for St. Nicholas feast day. This year the story was about how St. Nicholas struck Arius and was defrocked and imprisoned. He was finally released when Constantine became a Christian and freed all Christians held in prison for their faith.
Christmas Toy Drive
75 Christmas presents were blessed. St. Luke participates in the Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Chicago toy drive. The gifts are for foster children in the greater Chicago area. A total of 1500 toys are donated by the Orthodox Churches of Chicago. Diane, who is the secretary of the laity branch of the association, heads this St. Luke ministry.