Nativity 2021 Newsletter and Donation Appeal

Icon of the Nativity of the Lord – F43
Icon of the Nativity of Christ – F43

Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     Bless!  The Lord!

This year is moving towards its close and the time of the Nativity of Christ’s celebration is coming closer to us day by day. This is a celebration of the nearness and relationship of God to each one of us as He has come as Emmanuel–God with us!  Not distant, not far, not abstract, but personal, immediate, and right now and right here, if our hearts are open to receive Him.  In the cave of each heart is the place where He is to be born, not just in time but to bring Eternity within us, for Christ must be born in us if we will be reborn in Him.  This is Heaven, and this is why the angels sang so sweetly on that cold winter night so long ago, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  (Luke 2:14)

The natural adjunct to Christ being born on earth so that He can be born in us, is the extension of such a great love to naturally move beyond the confines of ourselves in love towards others.  This outreach is the atmosphere of generous love so ample in this holy season. It is a life-changing experience to enter and be changed by the love of God, and through this, the love of our neighbor.  Also this includes the love of our own true self as the growing Image and Likeness of Him being purified, illumined, and sanctified then by Him.  Then we too will have the cave within swept clean and censed with His Heavenly fragrance.

We too are also linked and tied in this love of each other if we are prayerful, and honor and help each other by our earnest and active prayers for one another each day.  May the Lord help us do this as the community of love in Christ in our walk with Christ and the Church which is His Body.

Our Challenges

The Covid crisis affected us all, and its fallout is still affecting us here even personally.  Both of our small monastic brotherhood came down with this strong disease in mid- September, one with pneumonia coming with it, but beside one night’s visit to the local ER for loss of oxygen saturation for some hours, this too passed and that monk was able to return back to the monastery.  The strong effects of these bouts with Covid lasted for almost three weeks, and still has residual echoes even until today with a loss of energy and focus affecting all monastic work and also with their interface with the business of our icon reproductions.

The previous loss of our two key employees has created disruptions in the icon production flow, and we need your prayers to help us make the end of this transition to our newer employees being effective as they come up to speed and competency.  Without the proper training at the beginning, this has been extra hard to attain.

The back valley’s Common Monastic building is still not up and functioning fully, and the bouts with Covid took up much of the preparation for winter time away and so we are facing now a critical time to get everything done.  Our solar electrical system has some new wrinkles as one of the systems DC to AC inverters was just discovered fried after we were able just at the very end of October to fix the washed out road to the back valley by pick axing rock and gravel to make a patched up path to now get back there, and that is when this was just discovered.

Just in the last weeks have we been able to rewire our AC box enough to get our water pump going for the loop from the outdoor wood boiler to the Common Monastic Building to keep the lines from freezing and having to be dug up to fix.  To get a new inverter would not have been able to get here until late January, so our solar contractor is rebuilding our old one.  Thanks be to God that this was just done.  The electric, water, and heating contractors will still need to come now so that they can find whatever is left to complete the restoration of full use of this wonderful stand-alone monastic building.  Pray that this can happen soon before the weather season changes fully to cold.

Our SUV with all-wheel drive was totaled at the end of October when a deer jumped out in front of it, in the early morning hours by nearby Soldiers Grove, but the monk was not injured, just greatly surprised.  Help in offsetting the difference between a replacement used car of the same size needed to carry our lawnmowers if needful for repairs is being pursued with a friend in Texas to find a car without any rust to last longer up here in Wisconsin.  It will cost over $10,000 more than the insurance will pay for the older one.

Our propane bill has jumped now almost 50% from last year’s cost, and is another strain on our finances.  We are out of the right BTU wood to run our wood-fired boiler in the back valley and the road was down when we could have more easily moved it and cut it up.  This will cost about $2,000 for a load big enough for this season’s needs and to also age for proper best use for next year’s needs too.  Our telephone system is also almost totally down and is affecting how people can contact us for orders or to make contact for monastic business too.  That will cost about $10,000 to get it upgraded to work with our many extensions set up to best function.

St. Nicholas Church in the Front Valley in the Winter
St. Nicholas Church On a Previous Winter Day

The Twin Solar Inverters in Place

Outside the Common Monastic Building in the Snow
The Common Monastic Building on a Previous Winter Day

Icon of the Creation of the Stars – F57
Icon of the Creation of the Stars – F57

Critical Help is Needed Just Now

We are very greatly stretched (yet thankful still), so we are turning to our donors and dear friends for practical help as well as their earnest prayers for the monks here to help get us up back on our feet and be able to meet our financial obligations that are so stretched in this continuing perfect storm.

We are just a few monks.  We really still need now most of all over $5,000 in donations for our general funds.  Thank you for your response in the past when we reached out to you in our times of need.  We are asking again now. As Christ is close to us all here on earth, so we too are closer to each other especially at this time of the year.  Please see in prayer whatever you can do to help.  Every dollar will count and is a blessing, even as the widow in the Gospel gave her two mites!   Thank you for your help, and may mercy come to you and to all we love from Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ especially in this Nativity Season.

Keep us in your prayers and in your love, We are praying for you.  May the Lord bless each and every one of your good hearts.

Your Brothers in Christ,

The Monks of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the Community of St. Nicholas Church

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