My beloved spiritual children in Christ,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAMILY MINISTRY
Jesus said, "Let the children come to Me and do not hinder them for such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven" (St. Matthew 19:14). Our Most Loving Lord Jesus Christ had a special way with children. He loved and will always love all the children of the world. He opens His loving and saving embrace to them. He was happy to receive them and to bless them. He presented them as examples of "child-like" qualities that He wanted to see in all His followers--simplicity, purity, goodness, innocence, kindness, compassion, faith, trust, for their humble openness, unconditional love, joy and enthusiasm.
"Let the children come to Me..." One of the most real and effective ways that Our Lord calls children to Him today is through the Church, through the Sacraments, through prayer, through worship, through the Holy Scriptures, through our Christian parish. When the faithful assemble for worship and the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, the Chief Celebrant and Host is Jesus Christ Himself, Who calls out to all: "Come to Me." By receiving His Precious Body and Blood with the fear of God, with faith and love, we are united with Him and with one another. Through Holy Communion the Orthodox Christian believer receives forgiveness of sins and eternal life. In other words, salvation! Will the parish children be in Church this coming Sunday and every Sunday, to hear the word of God and be blessed by Him?
"Let the children come to me..." Those who believe in Him and have open and receptive hearts are drawn to Him and learn from Him. Christ said: "Take my yoke upon you; learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls" (St. Matthew 11:29). Christians are constantly learning and spiritually growing in Him in knowledge and truth. We all learn from His Divine life and teaching, we are inspired by His Divine Wisdom, we are guided by the Holy Spirit and by His grace we are able to translate all that we have understood from Him, into a virtues life.
"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of heaven. And He laid His hands on them..." (St. Matthew 19:14-15). Children, like adults, participate in the Kingdom through baptism, chrismation, communion, confession, and anointing with holy oil for healing.
Children depend on the good will of their parents to bring them to divine worship. It is the primary responsibility of the parents to encourage and guide them to attend the Divine Liturgy and to attend the religious instruction offered by their parish. God's word to parents is laid down in Holy Scripture: "Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." It is the responsibility of parents to raise their children in a Christ centered home and train them in the ways of the Lord Christ, including discipline and correction. Your local parish is here to help you carry out your God-given duty. Will you and your child or children be in church this coming Sunday in time to hear the holy Gospel Lesson, the call of Jesus, and to fulfill your sacred charge of upbringing and learning in the Lord?
"Let the little children come to Me..." The winds and currents troubling today's world and society are clear everywhere. The dangers to children are numerous and come from different sources and directions. Some of them all of you know about, i.e., TV, Computers, drugs, alcohol, school mates, etc. Children today are constantly targeted for exploitation, abuse of all kinds and indoctrination. Even public schools and teachers have changed so drastically today that they discourage the Christian children of believing in God and living a moral life. They can bring a book about Harry Potter but are forbidden to bring the Holy Bible to school to read on their free time. The anti-Christian movement in our country is very real and strong today. As I was growing up, the home, church, and school, worked together to produce a good human being with values, with good character, with self-respect, with respect for others, a person who respected and loved his country, with concern for their fellow man, a person of faith and a person who was responsible. Tragically it is no longer the case. Now the media and the modern hedonistic and materialistic culture that we all experience, rob many children of their childhood--the innocence, goodness, trust, faith and that joy that Jesus sees in them.
Parents are rightly concerned about the education of their children i.e., language, math, history, science and the like, so that can develop their talents and gain the necessary skills to succeed in life. However, the most important asset is faith in Christ and living a Christian life. Children are like young plants that need to be constantly nurtured and need supporting stakes to grow strong, straight and healthy in the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who "grew in God's wisdom and grace" (St. Luke 2:40).
Please make God and our Christian Faith your family priority.
GLORY BE TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God