Fr Christ’s Summer Pastoral Message
Strange times, right? Well, here we are, 3 and a half months after this all started and by the grace of God, our Churches have opened and we have been gathering in worship. We are kind of left wondering what to do. Should I attend Church, or shouldn’t I? Should I receive Holy Communion, or shouldn’t I? Reflecting at the beginning of the pandemic, I shared in my March 15th sermon the following, which really applies to today also: “Let’s not be critical of others who hug people or don’t hug people. Let’s not be critical of those who receive Holy Communion or don’t receive Holy Communion. Let’s let science be science, but, let’s let God be God. I know some struggle with Holy Communion in the environment we find ourselves in. That is a very personal struggle, just as faith is a very personal journey.”
Are you struggling? Good! One encounters God most intimately; one grows in faith more profoundly when there is a personal struggle. There is so much more to gain in life when effort and struggle are applied to it and that includes faith. St James (Iakovos) reminds us of this in his Epistle by saying, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Struggling with areas of faith is not new for any of us; it has just been a little different; and will be different again at another time. One thing is for sure, we blossom and grow through struggling with faith at our time and at our capacity of spiritual growth. It’s not that one has “more faith” or “less faith”, it’s just “faith”.
The blessing of this time of year is also highlighted with the first fifteen days of August when we honor the Theotokos with the beautiful Paraklesis Service. I encourage us to pray this short service which is filled with refreshing nectar that raises our spiritual consciousness and appreciation of God’s work of salvation for each of us through the person of the Panagia, the Mother of God.
May the joy of our Lord fill your home these summer months with peace and blessings from above as I pray the Panagia’s intercessions be with you all.
In His Loving Service,