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.
RAISING THE STANDARDS OF OUR PARISH
"Any time your sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards." -Anthony Robbins
According to our Holy Orthodox Christian faith if one is to progress and grow spiritually he/she must be willing to change. As a matter of fact the Greek word metanoia is interpreted as "change of mind" or "change of heart." Another popular Greek word meaning to change is the word metamorphosis which literally means "change of form or character." Change is good and necessary not only for the individual Christian, but also, for the parish.
This is the right time to raise the standards of our parish and to make positive changes within it which will add to its progress, i.e., our spiritual commitment, our behavior, our relationships, our service, the way we treat others, realistic goals for the parish, our personal support of the various parish ministries, as stewards, our vision of the parish, our parish ministries, committees, organizations, programs, etc.
Our personal standards are reflected in how we treat our selves, and also in how we treat other people. They are also reflected in how we expect to be treated by other people.
When one has high standards one expects to be treated with the highest of regard. The same can apply to our local parish. What is the local parish? The local parish is us! Priest and faithful comprise the local parish. When we change so does the parish. When we improve so does the parish. When we progress spiritually or as stewards, so does the parish.
The time to change is now. We need to have a better understanding of the church and her holy mission and purpose.
Do we, as the parish, have goals that we would like to achieve? If we do have tangible goals for the parish, we must then, consider that in order to achieve these goals that we must first raise the standards within it and in every aspect of the life of the parish.
As Orthodox Christians we act always with faith and trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We, as Orthodox Christians, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we act. Nothing can be accomplished without Christ Who reminds us: "for without Me you can do nothing" (St. John 15:5). Also: "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (St. John 15:14). Saint Paul writing to the Colossians advises us, "whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (3:17).
I have seen over the years that problems and obstacles appear only when we say or do things in our name, for our personal glory, instead in the name of the Lord. We are first and always Christians! Everything that we say or do must reflect our Christian faith, values and principles. It does not make any difference if one is fundraising, is serving in a committee, ministry or organization. Our loyalty is to Christ and no one else. Our obedience is to Him and Him alone.
There is much work ahead of us. Let us then, work together as a Christian family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not saved in isolation but together as the Church of Christ. The Almighty God presents us with new opportunities to serve Him better, with conviction, with resolve, with unconditional love, with humility and honesty.
Our Lord has blessed our parish with Christian people who have many wonderful talents and gifts. The talents and gifts were given to be used for His glory and for the good of His Church. Use your gifts and talents for the good of all and for the spiritual progress of our parish.
The annual parish festival is not just a food festival, not just a cultural experience, but a Christian outreach and ministry. During the three days of the festival over three thousand people attend it and everyone one of them has a different expectation or understanding of who we are. It is important how we present ourselves and how we represent our Orthodox Christian faith, a Faith that many of them know nothing about. They need to see us as Christians, united and working together with mutual love and respect; people who work tirelessly to serve Christ and our local parish. We are not just the Greek church on Ironwood Road.
Spyrithoula, the new General Chairperson of the festival, has begun enlisting volunteers to chair the various aspects of the festival but she, and I, need and expect everyone in the parish to volunteer and be willing to share in the work and responsibility of having a festival. It takes the entire community to have a successful and meaningful festival. By cooperating with her and the other associate chairmen of the festival, you are helping your church.
With agape in Christ,