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November 19, 2014

Operation Christmas Child: Thank you to all who contributed items, money and time to pack the boxes. We set a goal of 10 boxes, we contributed 17! Thank you for helping to bring some comfort to children facing adversity.

Feed Nova Scotia: Our next charitable outreach is collecting non-perishable food items for Feed Nova Scotia. There is a box under the table in the entrance. Many people in this region struggle with hunger, please consider how you might assist.

Work bee: We will now have the work bee Saturday, Nov 22, starting at 9:30 am. There are many things to be done including: putting plastic on windows; close up some drafts around front entrance; parking lot work to remove large rocks; general cleanup; clean basement. Your help is needed. if you have any questions, please contact Luke or Dennis. Coffee and tea will be provided, please bring a lunch.

Services for the next few weeks:

Sat Nov 22 - Vespers 6:00 pm Sun Nov 23 - Hours, Liturgy, Coffee Hour - 10:00 am

Fri Nov 28: start of the Navity Fast Sat Nov 29 - Vespers 6:00 pm Sun Nov 30 - Hours, Liturgy, Coffee Hour - 10:00 am

Note that the celebration of the Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple will be moved to the Dec 6-7 weekend.

A note from our priest about the upcoming fast:

It is unfortunate that so often we tend to think of fasting as a negative aspect of the practice of our faith. True enough, fasting does mean giving up things, doing without foods which may be attractive and tasty, and indeed, one can understand the "negative" aspect involved. Yet, if we look at the fast from a different angle, we can see it as a positive thing, a good opportunity to free ourselves from some of the burdens and concerns of life. Tasty and delicious meals may be enjoyable, but they take work, time and money to put on our table. And for what purpose? It is certainly true that a good meal can be enjoyable, and from time to time there is no harm in this. But we must remember that the consumption of food is really not intended to be an occasion of entertainment and enjoyment, but a means of gaining the sustenance we need in order to keep our bodies strong and healthy.

The healthiest and most nourishing foods are the natural ones, things which require very little effort to prepare and very little fancy processing. Such foods may have simple flavours, but those flavours are natural, coming to us directly from he Creator who planted them for our use. The simplicity of the Fast can free our minds from the concerns and efforts which so often go into planning and preparing meals; we gain leisure time to turn our minds and our hearts to other things. But what other things?

Well, first and foremost we can concentrate on the reason for the Fast. We are approaching the Nativity, the event where time and eternity meet as our Lord and God enters into the world of time and space, becoming one with us in all our strengths, weaknesses, worries, cares, and joys. In no other religious tradition has the idea ever been broached that the Almighty and Eternal God would go to such lengths to unite Himself with mankind. This is what we are preparing for, and in the light of this great wonder, things like food and the other concerns of life become very unimportant. Consider the magnitude of the joy as Christ enters the world and becomes one with us, and at the nativity we are called to come and witness the miraculous birth. Should we not be eager and filled with joy at the thought that we are invited to encounter Christ in His birth? When the shepherds were told by the angel of the birth of the Christ, they immediately left their flocks and hastened to Bethlehem. And the Magi from the East joyfully undertook a long journey in order the see the newly born child. The journey and the rigours of travel meant nothing to them, especially when compared to the joy at the end of the journey.

We can think of the fast as our joyful journey to Bethlehem. The very slight discomfort which might come from the absence of certain foods can be very easily replaced by the anticipation of the joy which awaits as at the end of the journey. A fast, even the strictest fast, always has an element of joy in it, for it leads to a feast and festival. And the Nativity is the first great feast of the Christian year a feast which reveals the inexpressible wonder of God's love for his people and his creation. Let us, therefore, take the road to Bethlehem and use the Fast as our road map. Come to Bethlehem to worship the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of the Father, now made flesh and bringing into the world the fullness of the Spirit. No delay! The journey starts on Friday, November 28th. Start the course of the fast with joy, and end it with a joy greater than the mind can comprehend.

The simpler food which we use during the fact will also cause a considerable saving in money. Why not use what is saved for the relief of the poor and hungry ... and there are many such even in our own area. To give to the poor during a fast period is a means of increasing our Nativity joy even more, for it means that in our small way we can thus share in the self-giving love of God.

Fr. Vladimir

St.Vladimir Orthodox Church, 629 Purcell's Cove Road, Halifax NS, (902) 982-3759

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