My beloved spiritual children in Christ,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
As your parish priest I am constantly thinking of ways our parish can progress spiritually and to guide and encourage the faithful of our parish to strive for spiritual maturity. Of course that can only be accomplished by the grace of God and the synergy between the individual believer and our Savior Christ.
It is unfortunately common among our sister Greek Orthodox parishes to be satisfied and maintain a "status quo". Status quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. In other words to resist change of any kind.
To maintain a status quo within the parish is very detrimental to the parish. Nothing really remains the same. If we do not move forward as individuals or as a community than we will be sliding backwards. There are always people who are not willing to change and because of that attitude they do not ever meet their potential as God's children. The Greek word metanoia (repentance) means change. Change of mind, change of heart, change of lifestyle, etc.
As Christians we are expected to constantly grow in Christ striving for theosis (deification) by adhering to the Commandments of God and to always abide by the teachings of Christ our Lord. Spiritual status quo is nothing less than death. The death of our soul.
Some have a false understanding of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian, people who have a distorted image of Christ and the divine mission of the Church. If some are confused of what it means to be a true Christian they need to turn to the Holy Scripture that serve as our teacher and guide. For example in Acts we read: "for in Him we live and move and have our being..." (17:28), "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20), "if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25), "let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 5:9-10), "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:14-17), "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches, He who abides in Me, and I in him, bear much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned" (St. John 15:4-6). I hope all of you get the picture and what it means to be a believing and practicing Orthodox Christian. There is absolutely no reason why an Orthodox Christian should not turn to the Holy Scripture and seek answers and guidance so that he will grow in Christ and therefore strengthen his/her relationship with our Savior.
Orthodox Christians have never been taught not to study the Holy Scripture and abide by the Word of God. Personally I feel from serving our Greek Orthodox parishes for 45 years that the reason many times there is so much discord, turmoil, acrimony among the members, politics, infighting, power struggles, divisions, slander, conspiracies, etc is because the true understanding of the Christian faith and life has been lost and the divine purpose of the Christian and of the Christian community has been distorted. The mentality is a secular one and so is the attitude.
It is urgent that the true image of the Church is restored and the Christians of our communities begin to think, feel and act as true Christians and nothing less.
This is my prayer always that the Almighty God will illuminate your minds and hearts and conform to the will of God. In Romans 12:2 Saint Paul writes: "And do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Faithful relationship to God changes our relationship to the world. We are "transformed", starting with the inward man, the "mind" by virtue, the keeping of God's Commandments. Mind here is more than the rational faculty, it is the highest faculty of human nature: "the eyes of your heart" (Ephesians 1:18) by which one sees and comprehends God.
With agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God