MISSION RETREAT

Scene from Mission Retreat.

St. Luke Parish held a Retreat on Missions. The day began with Divine Liturgy.

Scene from Mission Retreat.

This was followed by a Brunch.

Scene from Mission Retreat.

The guest speaker was Fr. Steven Freeman. The topic was “Mission and a Self-emptying Son of God”. We thank Fr. Steven for sharing his wisdom with us.

GARDEN CENTER VISIT FOR APRIL

Scene from Garden Center Visit For April.

Our visit started with Fr. Paul telling the story of Easter, the greatest miracle of all. Jesus died for us on the cross and God the Father raised him from the dead.

Scene from Garden Center Visit For April.

Fr. Paul talked about the disciple Thomas. How Thomas said, “Unless I can feel for myself the wounds on Jesus’ body, I cannot accept that He is alive.” A week later the disciples were together, Thomas with them, when Jesus entered. So Jesus tells Thomas to touch the wound in His side and the holes in His hands. “My Lord and my God,” said Thomas. Jesus replied, “You believe because you have seen with your own eyes, but more blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.

Scene from Garden Center Visit For April.

Fr. Paul said how Jesus loves us more than anyone else. He wants us to come to Him, pray and believe that He is with us always and everywhere, even in the smallest corners. Jesus said that a greater blessing awaits those who have faith without having seen Him.

Scene from Garden Center Visit For April.

Our visit ended with snacks and joyful conversation.

AGAPE VESPERS AND EGG HUNT

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Sunday afternoon following Paschal Liturgy, the Agape Vespers service is celebrated. The church is bright and alive and full of children anticipating the Pascha egg hunt. The congregation gathers together to hear readings from the four Gospels in different languages proclaiming that Christ is Risen. Following this is a procession proclaiming the Risen Christ.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

The Gospel in Armenian.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

The Gospel in English.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Protinica Michelle directs the singers.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Fr. Paul leads the congregation on a procession around the church.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Group photo for the egg hunt.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Behind the icons was a popular hiding place for the eggs.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Look out here we come.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Scene from egg hunt.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Thanks to all who set up the egg hunt for the children.

Scene from Agape Vespers And Egg Hunt.

Photo of Fr. Paul and family.

PASCHA – SATURDAY NIGHT/SUNDAY MORNING

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

The handmaidens guard the tomb. The light from the tomb throws shadows on the ceiling of the church. All the preparations have been for this night. The church is ready and the faithful have spent the day in strict fast. There is a sense of anticipation in the air. The church is darkened and the music selections are somber as during all of lent.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha Services.

All lights in the church are extinquished and there is a total darkness. At midnight the flame from a single candle appears at the altar. The priest brings forth the light of Christ and gives it to the rest of the faithful.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Father Paul spreads the Light to the handmaidens and from there it spreads to all the congregation.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

“Come Receive Ihe Light”

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

“Come Receive Ihe Light”

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Fr. Paul leads the congregation in procession and proceeds around the church.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

The entire congregation leaves the church in procession and proceeds around the church.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

While they are doing this, the tomb is removed from the church, all the lights are turned on, and all candles are lit once again symbolizing Christ’s resurrection.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Scene from the procession.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Scene from the procession.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Scene from the procession.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha.

Upon finishing the procession around the church, the congregation gathers at the closed front doors of the church.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha.

The Priest knocks on the doors three times saying: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. And a voice asks: Who is this King of Glory? The priest answers: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. The priest the knocks again saying: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. And again the voice asks: Who is this King of Glory? The priest then replies: The Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha.

“Who is this King of Glory?”

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

The doors of the church are opened, the tomb has been removed, the entire building is filled with light and it is now time to begin the joyous Resurrection Service. The priest reenters followed by the congregation.

The entire tone of the service is changed. The dim interior of the church is gone. The dark vestments and candle holders are also gone. The tomb and somber music are also gone. The church is as bright as possible. The vestments are bright and the singing joyous. It is the triumphal resurrection of Christ saving us from death and granting us resurrection. Christ is risen! Glorify Him. The Hymn “Christ is Risen from the Dead” is sung repeatedly with joy and power. The Cry of “Christ is risen” and the response “Indeed he is risen.” fill the air. This is proclaimed in many different languages.

OCA – Christ is Risen! / Indeed He is Risen! Greek Diocese – Christ is Risen! / Truly He is Risen! Greek – Christos Anesti! / Aleithos Anesti! Slavonic – Christos Voskrese! / Voistinu Voskrese! Arabic – Al-Masih-Qam! / Hakkan Qam! Romanian – Christos E Anviat! / Adeverat Anviat! Spanish – Christo Ha Resucitado! / Verdaderamente, Ha Resucitado! German – Christus ist Auferstanden! / Jawohl Er ist Auferstanden French – Le Christ est ressuscite! / En verite il est resuscite! Japanese – Harisutosu Siochatsu! / Makoto-ni Siochatsu

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Scene from the service.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Scene from the service.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha Services.

Fr. Paul reads the sermon of St. John Chrysostom welcoming all to the celebration.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha Services.

Our bell ringers proclaim the Glory of the Risen Christ.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Scene from the service.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha Services.

At the conclusion of the service, the parishioners venerate the Arthos and receive a red egg. All are invited to break the fast and break bread together.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha Services.

Father Paul prays over the congregation and blesses the food.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha Services.

Father Paul blesses the baskets laden with food.

Scene from Holy Week - Pascha Services.

Orthodox Christians as they are able, fast from all meat and dairy products for all of Holy Week and the preceeding forty days of Lent. After the Paschal Liturgy a pot luck dinner is served and as you can imagine, some serious eating goes on. The celebration lasts into the early hours of the morning.

SATURDAY MORNING

HOLY WEEK – HOLY SATURDAY LITURGY

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Holy Saturday Liturgy celebrates Christ’s descent into hell to free Adam and Eve and all who lived and died in anticipation of the coming of Christ. Historically this service was a time for new members to be chrismated into the church.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

During this Vesper service, 15 different readings from the bible are read. The readings all refer to resurrection.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Scene from the readings.

Scene from Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Here Nick reads the 15th reading concerning the Three Holy Youths and the Fiery Furnace.

Scene from Holy Saturday Liturgy.

The clergy and servers begin the service all dressed in their lenten colors. At the point when Christ raises out of hell, the covers are changed. The priest, deacon, and altar servers change their vestments from the somber dark colors of lent to white. The words “Let God arise,” are said. The altar cloths and candle holders are also changed at this time.

Scene from Holy Saturday Liturgy.

The candle holders and cloths are also changed from the lenten colors to white.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Fr. Paul in his white vestment.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

The Gospel reading.

Scene from Holy Week - Holy Saturday Liturgy.

Following the Liturgy, parishioners venerate the icon of Christ and the Eucharist is extended into an agape meal consisting of wine, bread, fruit, dates, figs, and nuts.

VIGIL

Vigil at the tomb.

Following the Lamentations on Friday night, parishioners volunteer to stand watch and “guard” the tomb of our Lord. This vigil lasts for 24 hours until the Pashcal services the following night. The church remains open during this time for visitors to come and worship before the tomb. The mood is that of a present-day wake. Bible verses are read during this time.

FRIDAY EVENING THE LAMENTATIONS

Scene From The Lamentations.

Before the service begins we see some of our handmaidens standing guard at the tomb.

Scene From The Lamentations.

As the name suggests the service is a mournful one lamenting the death of Christ. Psalm 119 “Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord.” is chanted by the priest. The refrains are sung by the congregation, “O Life, how can You die?”. During the singing of the 9th ode of the Canon, the priest blesses the congregation with rose water as rose petals are scattered around the church.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Scene from the service.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Father Paul blesses the congregation with Rose Water while the handmaidens scatter rose petals.

Scene From The Lamentations.

During the service, the shroud is removed from the tomb and four men along with the priest, choir and entire congregation make a procession around the entire exterior of the church while the “Hymn of Noble Joseph” is sung. They return to the church to hear the reading Ezekiel about the valley of the dry bones. The service ends with the veneration of the shroud and the distribution of flowers. Immediately following this service the vigil of the tomb begins and continues all the way up to Saturday morning.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Scene from the procession.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Scene from the procession.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Scene from the procession.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Scene from the procession.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Parishioners reenter the church venerating the Gospel and passing under the burial shroud.

Scene From The Lamentations.

The burial cloth is returned to the tomb.

Scene From The Lamentations.

The reading of The Prophecy of Ezekiel.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Father Paul teaches about the service.

Scene From The Lamentations.

Parishioners venerate Christ in the tomb and receive flowers from the tomb.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON PROCESSION WITH THE BURIAL SHROUD

Scene from Holy Week - Friday Afternoon Procession With The Burial Shroud.

A beam of light shown thru the window near where the burial shroud lay on the altar.

Scene from Holy Week - Friday Afternoon Procession With The Burial Shroud.

The beam of light in front of the altar.

Scene from Holy Week - Friday Afternoon Procession With The Burial Shroud.

Here Father Paul reads the Gospel.

Scene From Procession with the Burial Shroud.

Procession with the burial shroud.

Scene From Procession with the Burial Shroud.

Burial Shroud is placed in the tomb.

Scene from Procession With The Burial Shroud.

Parishioner venerates the Burial Shroud.

FRIDAY MORNING – PREPARING THE TOMB

Scene from Holy Week - The

Following the crucifiction, the myrrh bearing women prepared the tomb and Christ for burial. The women of the parish and helpers decorate the tomb of Christ with flowers.

Scene from Holy Week - The

Group Photo.

Scene from Holy Week - The

The completed tomb.

ROYAL HOURS

Scene from Royal Hours.

On Friday morning Royal Hours is celebrated. Historically it was named after the Emperor who would attend the service at this time. Today we still have the service because it traces the events that happened to Christ each hour on Holy Friday.

THURSDAY EVENING – THE PASSION GOSPELS

Father Paul and Deacon prepare for the readings of the Passion Gospels .

Passion Gospel Service – This is one of the most important and solemn Holy Week services. It is a remembrance and an entrance into the suffering and death of Christ. The priest and deacons, standing in the center of the church reads the words of the apostles who witnessed the events.

Scene from Holy Week - Reading Of The Passion Gospels.

During the fifth reading, the priest processes with the Cross carried his shoulder as he chants, “He who hung the earth upon the waters is now being hung on the cross.” As Simon carried the cross for Christ during his walk to the crucifixion, the priest now carries the cross. In doing so here presents the entire congregation.

Scene from Holy Week - Reading Of The Passion Gospels.

At the point of the sixth Gospel when “He yielded up the spirit” is read, the priest places a wreath over the cross.” (This is the moment in the scripture reading when Christ died).

Following the placing of the wreath, the hymn “The Wise Thief” is sung in remembrance of the thief who was crucified with Christ and accepted Him while on the cross.

Scene from Holy Week - Reading Of The Passion Gospels.

At the conclusion of the service parishioners venerate the cross.

THURSDAY MORNING – MYSTICAL SUPPER LITURGY

Scene from the Mystical Supper Liturgy.

Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil – This service relives the Lord’s Supper and betrayal by Judas. The hymn “Of Your Mystical Supper, O Son of God” is sung throughout the service. At the conclusion of the service, breakfast is served as an agape meal.

Father Andrew serves the Liturgy.

WEDNESDAY HOLY UNCTION SERVICE

Icon of Christ with the Oil of Holy Unction .

Sacrament of Holy Unction – The Church is called the Body of Christ. We are members of the Body through our Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, and Holy Communion. As the sinful woman anointed Christ, we are also anointed with the oil of healing, so we can go with Christ to the Cross, suffer, die, and be resurrected with Him. Here the Gospel is read.

Clergy pray over Holy Oil .

Father Paul prays over the Holy Oil.

Parishioners receive prayers of special healing .

During the service all who are in need of special healing gather together in the center of the church. The priest prays over them and reads the Prayer of Absolution. Epistle and Gospel lessons regarding healing are read. “The prayer of the faithful will save the sick.” (James 5:15) We prepare for this service by prayer and fasting from noon.

Father Paul anoints parishioner with the Oil of Holy Unction .

At the conclusion of the service, the faithful are anointed with the sacrament of Holy Unction. The priest anointes each of the faithful with the oil of healing on various parts of the body: forehead, eyes, ears, mouth, chest, palm, and the back of each hand. These areas are associated with the senses of smell, hearing, taste, and touch. The neck or chest is anointed for breath and for the heart.

TUESDAY BRIDEGROOM SERVICE

Scene from Tuesday - Bridgegroom Service.

Tuesday’s Bridegroom Service with the procession of the hymn of St. Cassian describes the life and conversion of the sinful woman who anointed Christ. The congregation is blessed with rose water. The rose water is symbolic of the sweet smelling myrrh with which the sinful woman anointed Christ. The scriptures tell us that the whole room was filled with the scent of myrrh. Once again it is important to understand that this is simply not a play being reenacted, but rather we are attempting to enter the life of Christ.

The symbolic acts in the services draw us unto the life of Christ. Through these acts we venerate the individuals that these acts depict.

Tuesday’s Gospel Lesson

Scene from Tuesday - Bridgegroom Service.

John 12:17-50 “The hour has come for the son to be glorified.”

Scene from Tuesday - Bridgegroom Service.

Fr. John gives instruction.

HOLY WEEK

MONDAY – BRIDGEGROOM SERVICE

Scene from Bridegroom Service.

On Holy Monday there is a Bridegroom Service – Bridegroom Services instruct us in our faith, as does all the preparation for Holy Week. Even more they help us to make Holy Week more than simply a ritual that tells a story. The Bridegroom Services help us to enter into the story, the life of Jesus Christ, and live it.

Scene from Bridegroom Service.

On Monday night, the priest represents Christ and the congregation represents the bride waiting for the bridegroom. As the virgins were called to be vigilant and prepared for the coming of the bridegroom lest they be shut out of the bridal chamber; let us be likewise vigilant and prepared, lest we be shut out of the eternal kingdom. – Matthew 25: 1-13

Monday’s Gospel Lesson

Monday’s Gospel lesson is Matthew 22: 15-46 and 23: 1-30. “Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites”

PALM SUNDAY

Scene from Palm Sunday.

The hymn of Palm Sunday proclaims the children holding the emblems of victory singing, “Hosanna blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” We experience Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem by processing around the church holding palm and pussy willow branches as symbols of Christ’s ability to overcome death by raising Lazarus.

Even the choir loft and stands are decorated with palms and branches.

Scene from Palm Sunday.

The Gospel Reading.

Scene from Palm Sunday.

Fr. Paul delivers his sermon.

Scene from Palm Sunday.

The Great Entrance

Scene from Palm Sunday.

Father Paul blesses the palms.

Scene from Palm Sunday.

At the end of Liturgy, the parishioners all received palms and branches and went outside for a procession led by the clergy around the church singing the Troparion of the day.

Scene from Palm Sunday.

Scene from procession.

Scene from Palm Sunday.

Scene from procession.

Scene from Palm Sunday.

Group photo.