Taking Life For Granted�Or As Granted by YLQnN65G


									VOLUME 13.3      DECEMBER, 2008

              Ebenezer Scrooge needed to see the future before he
              really understood the meaning of Christmas. Indeed, the
              real meaning of Christmas, the Feast of our Lord’s
              Nativity, is not that it is Baby Jesus’ birthday (the Son and
              Word of God is eternal), and not that we should be like
              Jesus in the present (which is the idea behind our
              exchanging gifts). The meaning of Christmas is only truly
              found in our future: In the words of the saints throughout
              the ages, “God became human so that the human can
              become god.”                                                    INSIDE THIS
              Christmas is the beginning of a recreation of the world         ISSUE:
              fallen into sin. And the completion of this event, a re-birth
              and the triumph of Christ Jesus over the powers of sin          Liturgical
              and death with His Resurrection from the dead certainly         Calendar
              fulfills the promise of the Nativity and entails our rescue
                 Fside on page 4!
              (salvation). But for what?                                      Outreach Report
              The future life is key: What awaits us when “He shall
              come again, to judge the living and the dead.” We all
              shall rise, but there is a more positive aspect of life that
              Christ offers: Deification, theosis, becoming all that God is
              and sharing all that God has – not by nature (not that we       Stewardship
              have to or necessarily do), but by His grace (favor,            Report
              generosity, and power) in our communion with and in
              Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ, the Church.                   Great Gobbler
                                                                              Giveaway Results
              Saint John Chrysostom refers to the Nativity as the
              Metropolis of all other events in the life of Christ: the       Celebrating
              teaching, the Cross, the Rising, the Ascension, and so          Christmas
              forth. But it is the reason that Christians can look forward
              “to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the ages to    And More!!!
              come.” It is because, if we truly seek to be giving as Christ
              Jesus was giving, if we seek to be obedient to the will of
              God, if we seek virtue as our way of life in a manner far
              different than the “ways of the world,” then we will enjoy
              that everlasting life. The alternative is precisely the
              opposite of the “peace and goodwill to men” which the
              Angel announced to the shepherds outside Bethlehem so
              long ago in our past, and which we seek in our present as
              the path of our future. This is precisely why we refer in
              the Church to Christmas as the “Winter Pascha.” Christ is
              born! Glorify Him!
                               Liturgical Calendar

Wednesday, December 24    Christmas Eve
                          9:00 a.m. Great and Royal Hours
                          Note: No Divine Liturgy or Holy Communion
                          6:00 p.m. Great Vesperal Liturgy of the Nativity
                          Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great (Holy
                          Communion; Choral Celebration; Church
                          School Presentation)

Thursday, December 25     The Nativity of Our Lord
                          9:00 a.m. Matins and Divine Liturgy

Sunday, December 28       Sunday After Christmas
                          8:15 a.m. Matins and Divine Liturgy
                          Note: No Sunday Church School Classes

Wednesday, December 31 New Year’s Eve
                       7:00 p.m. Great Vespers of Saint Basil the Great
                       At Saint Basil Church – Chicago, IL

Thursday, January 1       Feast of Saint Basil the Great
                          9:00 a.m. Matins and Divine Liturgy

Monday, January 5         Eve of the Epiphany
                          9:00 a.m. Great and Royal Hours
                          Note: No Divine Liturgy or Holy Communion
                          6:30 p.m. Great Vesperal Liturgy of the Theophany
                          Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great / Great Blessing of the Waters

Tuesday, January 6        Feast of the Baptism of our Lord
                          8:30 a.m. Matins and Divine Liturgy
                          Great Blessing of the Waters
                          7:00 p.m. Great Vespers of Saint John the Baptist
                          At Saint John the Baptist Church – Des Plaines, IL

Wednesday, January 7      Synaxis of Saint John the Baptist
                          8:30 a.m. Matins and Divine Liturgy

                                        Reaching Out
Great Gobbler Giveaway Results
                       The Great Gobbler Giveaway for 2008 was a success! With the money
                       collected, we were able to purchase 88 turkeys to feed those in need during
                       the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

                        Peter Murdakes, his son-in-law Denny, and Paul Coulis, Chairman of the
                        Drive, delivered the turkeys to the Food Pantry of Greater Hammond
                        Services, Inc., Brothers Keepers in Gary, Capes House of Hammond; and a
                        few families in our community requesting assistance. According to Peter, the
                        "need seemed more desperate this year than ever." Greater Hammond
planned to provide for over 1000 families this year. The Brothers Keepers provided for over 100
families; and Capes House provided for an overwhelming number of families, providing shelter for
over 40 individuals in a relatively small building.

With the help of the "Holiday Table Drive," several bags of non-perishable holiday food items from
our Food Pantry were delivered to the various locations along with the turkeys.

Thanks to all who responded with enthusiasm and generosity during this great time of need!!

Gifts of Warmth
By the end of this year's Mitten Drive, the trees were stuffed with all sorts of colorful
gloves, mittens, hats, and slippers socks! According to Stacia Sakelaris,
Chairperson of this year's Drive, 37 hats, 5 scarves, and 93 pairs of gloves were
donated. Items collected from the Children's Mitten Tree were distributed to children,
ages 3 to 5, through the Head Start Program of Hammond. All other items – including
28 hats, 17 scarves, 63 pairs of gloves, and 6 sets of slipper socks – were delivered to
those in need by the Visiting Nurse's Association.

Thanks to all for helping keep our community warm! And special thanks to all of the kids who
decorated the Children's Tree with their "works of art!"

Reach for a Star
The "joy of giving" brought a little more joy to 84 needy children in our community. Thanks to all who
participated in the Reach for a Star Drive! Our parishioners eagerly reached for a star and adorned
                    the Christmas tree in the Social Hall with their wrapped gifts.

                  Following the weekend of the Christmas Social, the gifts were delivered to and
                  distributed by Northwest Family Child Development Center, a non-profit
                  organization that provides child care and assists in the development of children
                  regardless of background.

                  Special thanks to Daphne Murzyn, who chaired the Reach for a Star Drive.

                                       Holiday Season

Flood Fundraiser Follow-Up
On December 5th and 6th, Kris Sakelaris and Carole Yarovsky visited 16
families (56 individuals) in the greater community that were affected by the
September flooding. Each family was presented with a beautiful poinsettia
along with a check from monies raised at our Flood Fundraiser on September
27th. One individual wrote, “I was overwhelmed by your gift.” Another wrote,
“We will always remember how you stepped in to help us in our time of need.” The smiles, tears,
and hugs from the recipients exemplified the spirit of Christmas and the meaning of “reaching out.”

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…
The ancient pagan druids worshipped trees as possessing great spirits. The evergreen
tree was especially important, for while all other trees “died” in the autumn and shed
there colors, the evergreen continued to live. In fact, cut off the branches and the tree
only grew taller! It was therefore a symbol of eternal life. Once the people who had
worshipped trees generally became Christians, the symbolism of trees was
maintained (customs die hard), and the evergreen’s “immortality” was incorporated
into the customs surrounding the Lord’s Nativity. Later Christian interpretations
noted that the evergreens used at Christmas pointed to the heavens.

The ornaments find their origin also in the druidic custom, for they began as offerings to the tree-spirits
bundled in small packages and tied to the branches. Later, Christians would tie their own offerings to
the Church on the branches of trees planted near the Christian temple.

Christmas Social                                                         Thank You…
Over 150 people attended our annual Saint Demetrios                      A special “thank you” to
Parish Christmas Social on Saturday, December 6th —                      Denise Kus, Community
our biggest turnout to date! Thank you to Helen                          Outreach Coordinator, for
Andreatos and Kiki Kioussis who put together a                           organizing and overseeing
wonderful evening of fine food, fellowship, and fun.                     all of our Community
Thank you to Spero Alexiou for helping in a “special                     Outreach Holiday Projects.
way” and to Debra Yarovsky who assisted our special                      She and her chairpersons
guest, Santa Claus, as his elf. Kristina Taylor                          brought great joy to many
entertained the youngsters while the adults enjoyed                      individuals and families
Christmas carols presented by the Munster High School                    during the Holiday Season.
Women’s Ensemble.
                                                                         Thank you to all Saint
                                                                         Demetrios parishioners for
                                                                         your generosity!

                                        Holiday Season

The Date of Christmas
              The majority of Orthodox Christians living in the United States will celebrate Christmas
                on December 25. A good portion, however, will celebrate Christmas on January 7
                  (along with the majority of Orthodox Christians around the world). This is because
                       January 7 is December 25 on the Old (Julian) Calendar, still observed as the
                         liturgical calendar by many Orthodox Christians, including our Serbian and
                         Ukrainian Orthodox brethren. Greek Orthodox Christians may recall that
                        the Julian Calendar is still used by their Church in the reckoning of the date
                      of Pascha each year.

Still, in the ancient Church before the fourth century, the feast of the Nativity did not even exist
(along with most feastdays other than Pascha and Sundays). Initially, in the Christian East, the
Lord’s Nativity was celebrated in conjunction with the remembrance of His baptism on January 6,
and the combined feast was named Theophany (the manifestation of God in the flesh); for while the
birth was rather unknown at the time (and the exact date unrecorded), the baptism marked the
beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and revealed the Holy Trinity openly.

In the Christian West, it appears that early on, the Church decided to separate these two events,
placing the Nativity on December 25, thereby co-opting the pagan festival of Saturnalia. In effect,
they turned a pagan holiday into a Christian holy day. Soon, this took hold in the East as well, and
the “twelve days” of Christmas were born (December 25 to January 6), except that the Western
Church observed the “Adoration of the Magi” on January 6 (which the East combines with the
Nativity). Still, it is no coincidence that the birth of Christ is celebrated in the depth of winter when
the world (the northern hemisphere at any rate where these feasts began) is at its physical darkest,
for Christ brings the Light into the world. The Springtime Pascha, the Resurrection, of course
coincides with the emergence and blooming of life in the world following the “death” and emptiness
of winter.

The ancient Church celebrated great feasts with a vigil, with the Eucharist occurring at the beginning
of the liturgical (and biblical) day, meaning the evening before at Vespers. The great feasts of the
Nativity, Theophany and Pascha came to be seen as interrelated feasts, and this has resulted in
similarities to their observance. First, all three are still – in theory – celebrated by a vigil beginning
with Vespers and the Divine Liturgy, followed by Matins (Orthros) and a secondary Divine Liturgy for
those who could not attend the main festal celebration at vespers. Second, all three were preceded
the day before (or the Friday before, if they happen to fall – like Pascha – on Sunday) by the service
of the “Great and Royal Hours.” Third, the hymnology of the feasts came to follow common patterns.
Fourth, all three incorporate in very specific ways the theme of “Light.” For these reasons, all three
came to be called by the rubrics, “Pascha,” for all three celebrate our own passage from death to life
everlasting in Christ Jesus.

 Wishing our entire Saint Demetrios
 parish family a blessed Christmas!

From our Spiritual Father…

From our Spiritual Father…


Philoptochos Report
Our annual Christmas Party was held after a brief business meeting
Tuesday, December 2 in the Mediterranean Room. Members enjoyed a
bountiful buffet of pizza, pasta, and salad delivered fresh from Doreen's
Pizza of Dyer. Our thanks to party coordinator Georgia Karnezis, who in
addition to setting beautiful holiday themed tables, kept everyone entertained
with games, prizes, and music! No one went home empty handed. We also thank Mia Delis and
Doreen’s for the special considerations extended to us in providing great food and timely delivery!

The Sunday before Christmas, we offered parishioners the opportunity to enjoy loukoumades
during the fellowship hour. Additional take-out orders were available for those who didn't want to wait
until next year's Greekfest to indulge! We thank everyone who supported us with purchases and to
our members who graciously donated supplies and helped that day!

Coming Up in 2009…

The Vasilopita Cutting will take place Sunday, January 4, 2009. Event chairmen Nikki Sakelaris
and Georgia Chioros will be assembling a crew to bake the traditional bread and collect donations
to support Saint Basil's Academy. A number of additional loaves will also be available for sale.
Please offer your help to these ladies, and give generously to support this important ministry of the
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese!

Note: There will be no general meeting in January.

General Meeting Tuesday, February 3, 2009 – 6:30 pm
Members should watch for the February meeting notice that will include details on two special
Orthodox young men from our area who need help with medical expenses. We will discuss what we
can do to assist them and their families.

Sunday, February 8: Our much anticipated "Go Red for Women" Heart Health Fair is back! Be
sure to wear red that day in support of a growing national awareness campaign to take better care of
your heart and your health! Event chairman Athena Snarskis and her committee are planning to
offer a wealth of heart-healthy treats, health tips, guest speakers and blood pressure checks, plus
raffles and goody bags for all parishioners during fellowship hour. Don't miss this fun and informative

Are you receiving our monthly meeting notices? Resolve to stay informed and
involved in 2009 by renewing or signing up as a member of Philoptochos! Members
receive monthly meeting updates that keep them in the know about this important
ministry of love and service to our church and the needy. Membership renewals will be
sent out in January, and 2009 sign-up forms will be available at our bulletin board.

ParishWebsite:                                      www.stdemetrioshammond.org
Parish Email:                                       stdemhammond@sbcglobal.net
Article Submissions (by the 15th of each month):    tyarovsky@sbcglobal.net


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