On Wednesday 6 January, the Eve of the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ, we had All-night vigil (Great Compline and Matins) with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil. Sadly, many of our parishioners were unable to attend because of heavy rain and flooding across the Hunter Valley and on the Central Coast. An improvement in the weather overnight, however, saw a great many people gather on the morning of Thursday 7 January, the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ. A large choir sang beautifully under the direction of Nataliya Rahim and approximately 40 people received the Holy Mysteries. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, a brief moleben of thanksgiving was served to commemorate the deliverance of the Russian Church and Empire from the invasion of the French and twelve other nations on this day in 1812. At the end of the service, the parish rector presented Matushka Marie Carles with a hand-painted icon of her heavenly protector, Saint Mary of Palestine, a gift from our parish and from the Gosford parish and her family in recognition of her faithful service to both parishes. Afterwards a great many people gathered in the church hall for a festive lunch and a visit from Father Christmas. A wonderful day in the life of our small parish!