Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Christ is in our midst!
Recently, as I was having lunch with one of my sons and his friend who has been coming with him to church, his friend said something like this: "The difference between my church and yours is that the people in your church seem happy to be there." I was surprised, "You mean the people aren't happy to be in yours?" "Not at all," was his reply. I had to agree with him on his first point. People are happy to be at St. Mary's. On the second I only felt sad.
A priest visited us a few years ago and his comment was, "I sense there is a real community here." Again, the evidence does point to the fact that our people genuinely care about each other and not only those who are related by blood, but across the board. When we get together to worship in all our diversity it seems that we are not a collection of individuals who have come to pray alone but a community of parishioners who have come to pray together. I think, if we considered the question, most of us would also be able to say, "I come to St. Mary's because I sense there is a real community here."
"Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity," the Psalmist wrote. It all stems for our faith as Orthodox Christians, our belief in God the Trinity, the Blessed Community of the Godhead, the Three in One and One in Three, Diversity in Unity and also from the sincere desire of those who join us to worship God in peace and holiness.
I give thanks to God that St. Mary's has become a refuge and not a fortress, a place of healing rather than strife, a place where everyone seeking God is welcome and those who are not quite sure what they are seeking are embraced unconditionally. Many come because they were unable to find such a place elsewhere. So be it! Let's work even harder to nurture the love in our parish and to build a community that more and more is pleasing to God and available to all.
Much love in Christ,