My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
"Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as we are" (Saint John 17:11).
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." In other words there is no such thing as an "individual" Christian. No one is saved alone. Being "knit together in love" (Col. 2:2), we are called in Christ to "suffer" together, be "honored" together and "rejoice" together.
In order for the Orthodox parish to be effective in its divine mission, they, the Orthodox Christians, must come to truly understand and believe that together with their priest they are members of the same Body, Christ, He being the Head of the Church. "But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And they eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'; nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty...that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually" (1 Corinthians 12:20-27).
Every member of Christ's body is important to the overall life and work of the parish. This is the authentic gospel message of our Holy Church. All members are blessed and are necessary and significant in the divine mission of the Church. All must share in sustaining the local community. All Orthodox Christian believers are "laborers for His vineyard" (St. Matt. 20:1). The "vineyard" is the life God gives us in the world. "Laborers" are those He calls to fulfill His Commandments.
We are all "laborers" and therefore all of us within the local parish must share the "labor" or work, or responsibility of having a church. God has given each and every one of us a talent or talents and we are expected to invest them for His glory. Remember what He said to the servant who had given him "the one talent" and who had nothing with it. "But his Lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (St. Matt. 25:24-30).
For too many years the entire responsibility of running and worrying about the local parish has fallen on the shoulders of the parish priest and the small group of men and women serving on the parish ministry of the parish council. Everyone must be engaged and share in the numerous concerns of the church. No one should remain aloof, without sympathy and without any concern about the present as well as the future of our beloved church of Saint Andrew.
The divine mission of the parish of Saint Andrew is to preserve, practice, and proclaim the Orthodox Christian Faith in order to glorify God, and to grow and serve the Parish and community.
Those of you who truly love and appreciate Saint Andrew's parish must be willing to commit, to sacrifice, to work, to serve without unconditionally. Call your priest/ president of the parish council and volunteer and become a genuine "laborer" in the vineyard of the Lord.
With love in Christ,