Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Born!
Wishing you a joyful, ongoing celebration of the Lord’s Nativity.
What a wonderful three days of celebration in our parish, with services in both Nazareth House and St John’s, where we celebrated Liturgy today, so that we could then have our parish Christmas lunch.
The Nativity brought parishioners together from our unlikely catchment area, enveloping South Wales, Hereford, Gloucestershire, Bath and Wiltshire. Not having had a night Liturgy after the vigil we thought that there might be quite low attendance on Friday night, but we were pleasantly surprised.
We were glad to have parishioners from our Llanelli mission for the well attended Christmas Liturgy, with over seventy people, including parishioners’ visiting families, the core of our Cheltenham mission, and new visitors. The Nativity Liturgy was particularly joyful, with extra Ukrainian singers moving to the kliros for the Liturgy and then for koliadky after the service. One of our young parishioners commented on feeling awestruck and spiritually warm at the Liturgy – and hearing this brought great joy.
As we no longer have anywhere to eat in Cathays, we were glad to celebrate the Synaxis of the Mother of God in St John’s today, where our parish had it’s ‘temporary’ home for several years. The familiarity of the church, with its kitchen and space to eat, was much appreciated and nobody was in a rush to leave.
We were happy to welcome first-time visitors, including friends of our Serbian parishioners, for whom bread, zhito (kutia) and wine were blessed in honour of the holy Apostle, Protomartyr and Archdeacon, Stephen, for their family slava, tomorrow. After the blessing of the offerings, the golden Slavski kolač was incised with a cross into which the blessed wine was poured, before the turning of the loaf by the members of the Terzic family and the priest. Young Stefan, played his part in the breaking of the loaf and the kiss of peace as the halves were placed back to back and turned.
For many of our parishioners, this was the first time they had witnessed the slava prayers and blessing – and a good opportunity for them to learn the Orthodox traditions of their brothers and sisters.
We wish Branka, Stefan and Tara a blessed and joyful feast: Srećna slava!
Following the slava blessing, parishioners enjoyed a wonderful Nativity feast of delicious festive food, with plenty of Russian, Ukrainian and Serbian favourites, with the rector being very happy to celebrate the Nativity with shuba and kulebiaka!
So many people worked very hard, singing, serving, baking and cooking, arranging flowers, setting up the churches and putting everything away again – as well as transporting things to and fro. Thank you everyone!
Also, thank you for the great seasonal kindness and generosity shown to the South Wales ROCOR clergy. Thanks also to the Sisters of Nazareth, who have shown such incredible warmth, generosity and kindness in positively encouraging our return to Nazareth House. It is wonderful to be back there, and to have their friendship and encouragement. We are truly blessed.
Glory to God for all things!
May God bless you all.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark