Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
Our Holy Orthodox Church, very wisely, has placed divine services during the week to encourage the faithful to pray and to worship as often as possible. We, as Orthodox Christians, know that one cannot claim to have a spiritual life apart from the divine services and sacraments of the Church. For the true Orthodox Christian this is a way of life, a worshiping Christian community.
It is difficult to know exactly how all Orthodox Christians view and understand these services, but certainly 'optional' is a word that comes to mind. I am often asked about the necessity of attending and participating in these divine services. For the practicing Orthodox Christian these special opportunities to pray and worship are not 'optional.' Attending and participating in these services helps everyone to live in an atmosphere of grace, or as Saint Paul writes, to live in Christ. Instead of living as if we have distinct lives - 'religious' life on Sunday and a 'secular' life the rest of the week - they consistently remind us to attempt to live one continuous life in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Christianity is not another of the thousands of religions in the world but God's revelation to mankind. Our Lord Christ did not come to establish a 'religion.' He came to give humanity "Life' and give it abundantly. Jesus says to us, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may HAVE IT MORE abundantly" (St. John 10:9-10). "Life" means living in God's grace here on earth, while the more abundant life indicates the Kingdom to come.
Saint Paul reminds us that we, as Christians, "See then that you walk, circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15). The goal is not to abandon the world, but to keep oneself in Christ and salvage as much as possible from the evil world. Christians renounce the fallenness of the world; not creation itself.
Using wisely the time that God has given us to spiritually prepare ourselves and to give accounting for how we have used this life, we should take it seriously. We are constantly nourished through the grace of the Holy Spirit when we participate in prayer, worship and sacramentally. Living daily according to Christ's commandments we are constantly sanctified and healed.
For the Orthodox Christian nothing is important than to be in the presence of God. There is no better way to be strengthen our personal relationship with Him than to spend quality time with Him in church. We must always live in a way that opens us to the grace of God that is available in the divine services and to translate it to life.
Attend all holy services of Our Church humbly and seek His forgiveness, sanctification, reconciliation and restoration.
All of you come and see! Come and pray with us!