Thursday, May 24, 2012

Looking Up: The Feast of the Ascension

Then, He went with His disciples to Bethany and stopped on the Mount of Olives. "While they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they LOOKED steadfastly toward heaven as He went UP, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Ye men of Galilee , why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven'" (Acts 1:9-11).
Ascension of our Lord
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In the Life of the Church, we celebrate the Great Feast of the Ascension of our Lord 40 days following Pascha (this year on Thursday, May 24, 2012). In the presence of His disciples, our Lord ascends to His Heavenly Throne: "I ascend to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God" (John 20:17). According to the account given in Luke's Gospel: "And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now, it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy..." (Luke 24:50-53).

Jesus, their Master, leaves them, yet His disciples are filled with great joy. Its an odd reality to grasp; the comfort of being in the presence of their Lord, especially witnessing His Resurrection and being "filled with great joy" at His departure from them. But the reason for such a feeling among the Disciples is the promise given to them: Jesus tells them that He must go to the Father, but He will send the Holy Spirit upon them.

Troparion of the Feast of the Ascension (Tone 4): “Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God, and gladdened thy Disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit, having become confident of the blessing. Verily, thou art the Son of God, and Deliverer of the world."

Wishing you and your family a blessed Great Feast of the Ascension of our Lord!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Graduation Sunday 2012 at St George Houston

As a Youth Director, I'm often asked, "why did you do _____ this way?" or "how come you choose that _____?" There are many decisions you just have to make on your own; go with your gut!

One such occasion where decision-making is "key" is our annual Graduation Sunday at St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston, TX. Following Liturgy, we recognize the graduates from our parish community (I'm sure your parish has a similar event) and we host a Coffee Hour in honor of our graduates, providing graduation cakes for all.

Cakes for Graduation Sunday at St George Houston
The past four years, I've purchased the cakes at a local bakery for this event. I've always gotten the same two color icings for the cakes: green and blue. Last year, I was going over the logistics for Graduation Sunday with our former parish priest, V Rev Fr John Salem (now at St Elijah Orthodox Church in OKC). He asked what color icing I was ordering for the cakes, to which I replied, "green and blue." Fr John asked why those colors, pointing out that I did the same the previous year. I laughed and told him those are the colors of my alma maters: Trinity High School & University of Kentucky!

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In my mind: If I order the cakes, I pick the colors!

Congratulations to all the St George Houston graduates of 2012!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Outdoor Shrine of Ss Constantine & Helena

Over the past few years, we've celebrated the Feast of Ss Constantine & Helena, Equal-to-the-Apostles (May 21), in a unique fashion at St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston, TX. We are blessed to have an Outdoor Shrine dedicated to Ss Constantine & Helena; this Shrine that is surrounded by some beautiful landscape and large water fountain is a wonderful addition to the parish community.

Our campus and young adult ministries groups of Greater Houston have gathered at this outdoor shrine for a supplication service to Ss Constantine & Helena on their feastday. It has been a unique experience to worship God and ask intercessions of Ss Constantine & Helena in an outside setting. This experience definitely has that "camp" feel to it, for those who remember their fun youthful days spent at Orthodox summer camps. We'd like to invite all Orthodox in the Houston area, especially our college students and young adults to join us again this year on Monday, May 21 at noon for our Supplication Service.

Enjoy some pictures from previous Supplication Services:

Outdoor Shrine of Ss Constantine & Helena

Icon of Ss Constantine & Helena

Supplication Service led by Fr Joseph Huneycutt (2010)

Group photo (2010)

Brief discussion of the Lives of Ss Constantine & Helena
by Fr Symeon Kees (2011)

Group photo (2011)

Dismissal & Veneration at the Shrine (2011)

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fuller Twins Birthday (May 2)

As kids are concerned, you couldn't find a cuter pair than the "Fuller twins" (I'm not biased - if ya don't believe me, just ask our Mama)! In honor of my sister, Adriane's birthday (mine too!), here are some photos of us during the years!

Country Western Night at the Antiochian Village (2000)
AV Staff Siblings Photo (2003)
Fuller kiddos (Aaron, Adriane, & Paul)
Godparents at the Baptism of Alexander Schardein
It's just how we get down - Adriane, Paul, & James Salman
Helping me move into my apartment in Houston, TX (July 2008)

Adriane & Paul - Twins!

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I have a very distinct memory from my childhood, and luckily its an experience of my youth while in Church. In line during the Dismissal, we kept seeing and hearing a dialogue between each person with our parish priest - the same dialogue. We turned to ask our mom what they were saying. She expained that the priest was saying, "Christ is Risen" and we should respond back with, "Truly, He is Risen."

Obviously, as children we didn't know what those sayings meant, but everyone was doing it. What kids wants to be left out of all the fun? It was our turn in line, and much to our delight, he was handing out a gift to everyone in line - a red egg!

He handed us each an egg, as he proclaimed, "Christ is Risen!" And our reply, apparently not what everyone else was saying (Truly, He is Risen!), but something much more to our liking as a kids. My sister and I loudly exclaimed: "Truly, He eats raisins!"

Everyone had a nice laugh. My sister and I continued to say to one another and others:
"Christ eats raisins!" "Truly, He eats raisins!"

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Cute kids, right??

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director