Brothers and Sisters,
Christ is Risen!
This coming Wednesday, May 22, is the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, the middle point in the Paschal Season. So, this is a good time to think about where we are and how things are going: Are we back to keeping the regular Wednesday and Friday fast? Is it time to once again make our confession? Are we caught up on our financial commitment to the parish? Have we been back to St Thomas School and Saturday evening Vespers?
Wednesday, May 22, and Friday, May 24
Monday, May 20-Friday, May 24
(However, there will be no daily services on Thursday, May 23. Also, don’t forget that since life in our parish community can be pretty busy, sometimes the starting times for the daily services has to be shifted. So, if you know ahead of time that you will be attending a particular service, it’s always a good idea to send Father Aidan a note at email@example.com to confirm when the service will actually begin.)
Wednesday, May 22
Pascha Book Study 7pm
Saturday, May 25
St Thomas School 4pm
This week Polly Thurston will lead the discussion on Chapter 9 The Meaning of Icons
Great Vespers 6pm
Sunday, May 26
The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
Divine Liturgy 10am
Fellowship Hour Noon
Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children Noon
This week, the Long Hall will be cleaned by Team Tomato, Will Hampton, Hazem Zawaideh, and Elena Cabeza de Vaca. Please check with them to see how you can help out.
This Week at St. Thomas School
Chapter 9: The Meaning of Icons
Icons are venerable, ineffable, mystical, myrrh-bearing, rainbow-hued, miraculous, hesychastic and meaningful. How exactly are icons meaningful to us?
When we discuss the meaning of icons, there are several major topics that come up. They have a theological, an anthropological, and a cosmic meaning, which means it has to do with God, Christ the God-man, and all of creation and mankind including our experiences, moral and mystical.
Metropolitan Hilarion draws a distinction between religious art during the Renaissance and Iconography as understood and experienced by the Orthodox Church, and the previous Chapter 8 has helped to set that foundation for us.
How would we ourselves look in an icon? In the East, icons are “static,” not stuck in this world of bodily movements nor do they even focus on particular emotional experiences as some other religious traditions or philosophies promote.
Neither are they “dynamic” and passionate as we see beautifully portrayed in Classical Western art of the often nude, muscular, agonizing bodies and realistic beasts that take their form from Greco-Roman mythologies.
After the struggle with passions having been conquered, Orthodox icons are like the victory laps of the saints. We too struggle to receive that renewed body and mind. In this way, icons are both relatable to our daily struggle and also inexhaustible in their meaning.
The Pascha Book Study is in full swing, and we are having a lot of fun. The book we are using is called Laughing at the Devil; it’s by Laura Hall. The book is part memoir and part commentary on the very first book ever written in English by a woman about the spiritual life (that book The Revelations of Divine Love is available in an inexpensive edition at Christ the Lightgiver). That woman is Julian of Norwich, and Laura Hall, who is a Protestant, does a very good job of connecting Julian’s insights with contemporary issues. Here is the schedule that we will be following during the remainder of the study; we hope that you will join us as often as you can:
Wed, May 22 Blood pgs 61-80
Wed, May 29 Bodies and The Postscript pgs 81-112
We had to cancel the work day that was planned for this past Saturday as the weather forecast called for thunderstorms all day. So we’ve now rescheduled the work day for Saturday, June 1. We will get started at 9am. Please bring shovels, buckets, disposable trash bags, pruning clippers and shears, wheelbarrows, and work gloves. We need to clean the flower beds of overgrowth and weeds, spread mulch around the atrium courtyard and some of the flower beds, clean out Parish House gutters, and whatever else needs to be accomplished. With many helping hands the work will be accomplished in a couple of hours. Donuts and coffee will be provided.
A few days after our parish work day, during the first week of June, we will also celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. We will serve Great Vespers on Wednesday, June 5, the eve of the feast, at 7pm, and then on Thursday, June 6, the day of the feast, we will serve Orthros at 5am and Divine Liturgy at 7am. Please plan on joining us as we wrap up the Paschal Season with this beautiful celebration.
This year, Pentecost Weekend is Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16. On Saturday, we will offer the final Saturday of Souls for 2019, so if you did not make it to any of the three Lenten Saturdays of Souls, this will be your final chance to pray for the departed during this year—please do not miss this important opportunity; the departed need your prayers just as the living do. We will offer Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am. We will follow the regular weekend schedule on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, but, following Fellowship Hour on Sunday, June 16, we will also offer Kneeling Vespers, beginning no later than 1pm. This is the service that caps off the entire liturgical cycle that began with the Triodion back in February, so this is another opportunity that you won’t want to miss.
The annual Parish Life Conference is always an enjoyable time of fellowship and learning and worship, and, this year, the conference is being held at The Westin Hotel at DFW Airport, June 19-22. That’s within easy driving distance, and the website for the 2019 DOWAMA PLC is now live. You can go to www.dowamaplc.org to access registration for the PLC as well as secure hotel rooms—and the discount price for early registration has been extended, so be sure and take care of that this week.
Church School Update
Dear St. John Church School Parents and Grandparents,
We will meet twice more (May 19 and June 2) before taking a summer break. Our new year will begin by early September; stay tuned for details.
Important: please send in your registration forms by June so our staff may have their class lists and plan accordingly over the summer.
We have some new families in our parish. Welcome! If you have become a member and would like your kids (ages 3-18) to attend church school, we will need your registration forms before assigning their classes. Our younger classes require an orientation, and their teachers will arrange that with you over the summer.
And last but not least, please remember to thank our wonderful teachers! Our last class day, June 2nd, would be a wonderful opportunity to show appreciation.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy
Our choir members and our chanters lead us during the divine services, and it's important that we not distract them while they are engaged in this all-important work. So, during the services, please do not try to visit with folks who are in the choir or at the chanter's stand, and please do not allow your children to wander into those areas. We should save that sort of interaction for Fellowship Hour.
May this middle week of the Paschal Season be a time of joy and peace for us all.
An unworthy priest,