One of the more difficult things that I have in my week is my weekend being easily the busiest part of my week (which is remarkably similar to my uni days). Of course, I used to complain bitterly about it then, but now...I'll still complain, because it's actually, in a way, worse.
The parish that (excuse the awkward expression) I consider to be my home parish is actually in another city - specifically, the city that I worked in for most of this year. It's an English-language parish (without any fighting about it) and my sponsoring parish for the St Stephen's course that I'm doing.
However, all that does not change the rather unfortunate fact that it is in another city, and start services at 8am. That's right, 8am on a Sunday morning. Now, taking into consideration my complete lack of car or private transport, and that means me waking up at 5am to leave my place at 5:50 to walk to the train station and catch the 6:32 to get to the destination station at 7:35 and hope that there's a taxi in the taxi rank (so far, so good) to get me there by 7:55am.
It's not easy.
Of course, the fact that I like the parish, there's no English-language parish in Brisbane (and nothing on a Sunday morning) and that I can still get there in time means that I'm okay with it. And if that was the only service that I attended on the weekend, I'd probably be okay. It's not - I go to the Liturgy celebrated in English on Saturday nights, after which we go out for coffee that inevitably takes until 9:30 and often enough until 10:30. Sadly, I've had the case where I could only get about two hours sleep between getting home at 11 and "waking up" at 5am.
All that said, the fact that I'm actually appreciated and thanked is kinda nice and, to some extent, near-unique. I don't do it for the acclamation, of course - if I did, I wouldn't go to a 25 parisioner parish! - but because it helps people pray. I can do services at home, but if I know that I'm helping other people pray, I'm that much happier and that much more willing to go through whatever it takes to keep helping.
On another note...
George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, wrote his Christmas message with an important point - religion is unfairly blamed for recent conflicts. If a person wants to say that religion in used as an excuse to fight wars, and that people are often ordered to take on a conqueror's religion, I will back them all the way (and there is ample support for that); but wars are rarely fought over religion. Wars are usually about power - like politics, but with physical knives.
I would post Christmas messages from Orthodox sources, but typically, we aren't quite that organised. It seems that both Greek and Antiochian Orthodox archdiocesan websites are in a transition to new and improved websites. Maybe they'll be done by Easter.