[Archived News] Wednesday January 16, 2008

Whever our Lord gives,
He truly gives and richly He gives

To us and our small parish, here in the far away America, gave us so much that we are still, and constantly surprised by our luck. Actually, God didn’t give us, but He blessed us… and literally He did that. ( In Serbian, the word bless-blessing is compressed of two words, one meaning treasure, and the other gift.). Without our merit, He Gifted us such a Treasure, the most beautiful church. We all know that without this kind of help, we would have needed years and years to erect our own church, and for sure we wouldn’t have had the courage to undertake building such a big temple. Definitely, that would have been much smaller and humble temple… but “what’s impossible for men, is possible for God”. When we don’t have “heart” and courage, He gives us His Own.

Look, we have planned to move into our new church, for the feast of our kolo of Serbian sisterhood, Nativity of the Most Holy Theotocos, give deserving thanks to the Greek Church in Greensboro on their most wonderful hospitality, and than move into our “place under the sun”. But the One who gifted it to us, didn’t want it that way, so He used already customary delays of the developers for that part of the process, and so here is the proof that nothing is accidental, but only the providence of God. Many set dates came and went by when we thought that we will move into our temple, but it didn’t happen… But, it had to come the Christmas Eve and the day of the Birth of our Lord God, for us to hold our very first service, exactly than !!!!

Our temple is now bare, but the very capable hands clothed it in a creative iconostasys erected in only an hour or two, the icons were hung, the candles shared their light and warmth with us, and the concrete floor received the most beautiful, precious, hand-made carpet, the carpet of the straw. Everything was like in Those days, the days of the Birth of the Bridegroom, so much so that our parishioners, in awe, stood around the edge of the space covered by straw, just like those shepherds who admired the Newborn from a little distance. Since there were, I am sure, more than 200 people, our Father Dragan had to call the present to move toward the middle of the church, so that everyone could enter, therefore also to step onto the straw. The service was truly festive, with the light of candles (they still have not connected us to the electrical pole)…but we have our own Pillar and Stone, as we have the living ties with the Living God. Our small choir gave it its best, now somewhat lost in this large space and acoustics (now, mistakes are not to be hidden), but God enriched us here as well by the beautiful voice of our Russian girl Nadia, so we could, under her leadership, respond to the priest’s prayers.

When the time came for us to walk around the church 3 times, we were outside welcomed by yet another gift from God! Here in North Carolina, we don’t have very cold and tough winters, but we do know what is snow, and freezing temperatures, freezing rain, and frost… but we had none of that this Christmas Eve and Day. Outside, sunshine, light breeze and around 70 F degrees awaited us, just so that we’ll realize what God had planned for that day. In the middle of the small plane, bonfire was already burning, and than, lead by fr. Dragan, boys with ‘badnjaci’, others with flags and three big guys who were carrying huge branches of ‘badnjak’, than we all approached. Everything was done according to our tradition, with songs and joy of children and the adults, and according to the given ‘signs’ of the Almighty as well. Just like always, our high-sister Jovanka already had everything prepared for some refreshments, and some Serbian-domestic specialties – from the bottle! There we spend some nice time, as it is deserving from one God thankful parish.

Tomorrow morning at 4 am, again we gathered together at the same holy place. It’s true, there were less of us than the day before, but our harts were filled with warmth looking at a few very young kids, many of us waiting for the confession and communion, and in the altar, besides our own priest, there were another two priests. Those were, Fr. Christopher from OCA and, always devoted and willing to help us in every way, Fr. Dionisius from the Greensboro Greek Orthodox Church, and Vladan, the reader from Serbian parish in Charlotte, NC. Father Dragan was trying to “all to everyone”… to co-serve in the altar, to take confessions, to sing, and give instructions and assist the readers and the choir, so one could see his cassock and red garment ‘flowing’ from one side of the temple to the other. After this festive Christmas service, giving thanks to our distinguished guests, well wishing to each other, we gathered around a table with Serbian specialties, in particular smoked and bottled ones. It was the way Lord God planned it – UNFORGETTIBLE !!!!

Nothing happens by chance, not even God’s grace poured on us! Now, what’s left for us to do, is to justify that great trust and even greater love of God we were shown, by progressing in faith and love for each other.


Dusica Prelevic