My beloved syndiakonoi (co-servants) in Christ,
The church of Saint Andrew was built by God's grace and the love and sacrifice of the Greek Orthodox Christians of our parish, was established for the worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the preaching of the Gospel, the sacred administration of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and for the cultivation of the Orthodox Christian way of life for ourselves and for our children. The Orthodox Christians of Saint Andrew continue to make sacrifices and do so with the children and grandchildren in mind, and with a deep concern for the salvation of our neighbors.
The Divine Service of Consecration is sacramental; like any other Sacrament (Mysterion), it is a flowing into this fallen world of the Kingdom of God, and a descent of the Holy Spirit to abide within the church. Our beautiful church of Saint Andrew has become the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the descent of the glory of the Almighty God, a beacon and icon of heaven itself. Our church is indeed a holy place, the House of God, and a consecrated holy place forever. An Angel of the Lord guards the holy Altar, the Holy of Holies, and the grace and glory of the Lord will always fill its interior.
Unlike other Mysteries (Sacraments), however, the Consecration is not received by an individual, but instead is a blessing for the entire Church community! At this sacred and holy place untold numbers of Christian believers are united to the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism, grow up into maturity in Christ and holiness through active participation in authentic spiritual life, embrace repentance and have their sins forgiven and washed away through the Mystery of Repentance and Confession, hear words of life preached, chanted and sung, are crowned into one flesh in holy Matrimony, are healed of disease of body and soul, and are escorted to the heavens at the time of repose.
Nothing is more important to us than the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church, and nothing is more significant in the life of a parish than the consecration of its church temple (Naos). It is the magnificent baptism of the church building, and it only happens once in the life of the church.
Let us therefore respect and honor this holy place of worship. Everyone is responsible, men, women and children, in helping to keep it clean and always well maintained.
By the grace of God and the generosity and sacrifice of our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, our church once again is beautiful. I ask only that we all keep treating it even better than our homes. No trash should be left behind in the pews, parents must not bring food in church proper (Nave) or the vestibule (Narthex) for their children, we cannot turn our place of worship into a cafeteria. All of you know that just outside the door of the church is the foyer and a small kitchen.
WHAT ABOUT THE ANTIDORON?
The antidoron is ordinary leavened bread which is blessed but not consecrated and distributed by the priest to all the faithful as they come up to receive it and to kiss the hand of the priest. Antidoron is not considered a sacrament and is explicitly not consecrated but blessed by the celebrant priest during the Divine Liturgy. Therefore, non-Orthodox present at the Divine Liturgy are permitted to receive it as an expression of Christian fellowship and love. It comes from the remains of the loaves of bread (prosphora) from which portions are cut for consecration as the Eucharist during the Divine Liturgy. The word Antidoron means "instead of gifts."
The proper Orthodox Christian way of receiving it is, as your approach the priest, to cup your hands the right over the left and for the priest to place a piece of antidoron in your hands that way crumbs never fall on the floor and stepped on. If crumbs fall on the floor it is important that you will pick them up and when you are outside of the church that you will place them on the ground where birds may eat them. Also, the Orthodox Christian never turns his/her back to the chalice (Eucharist) after receiving Holy Communion.
Adhering to Church proper etiquette is important and necessary i.e., the Orthodox Christian believer must always be on time for the Divine Liturgy and other divine services during the week. It is totally wrong and disrespectful to God to treat the "Heavenly Banquet" as ordinary and routine. When the Orthodox Christians is in church must stay in church until the very end which includes the sermon. Parishioners should never be in the foyer or in the hall way while their priest is offering the divine message of the gospel in church.
Please control your children at all times while in church!
In Christ's service,