Message from Fr Gary - January - February 2021
Happy New Year: Fr. Gary’s Message
The holiday season is a time of new beginnings. Each Advent we prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Christ Child and joyfully celebrate his birth at the Feast of the Nativity. Like the angels and the wise men we recognize the symbolic light of a new star appearing in our universe and shining on in our hearts. As Christians, we hope the glow of that new light illuminates the entire New Year, brining the peace of God into our lives.
As 2021 dawns and we take stock of the mess that has passed us by, that is 2020, it is customary to set goals for ourselves. Maybe this will be the year we lose weight, become more punctual, read more (scripture), or watch less television. Some of our goals are small and practical; while others seek to redefine who we are and the way we lives our lives. And all the while we greet and depart each other with the traditional, “Happy New Year!”
“Happy New Year” may be enough to cover one night of celebration as the calendar changes from 2020 to 2021, but what happens when we weigh the idea of happiness against the entire coming year? It is unrealistic to believe that an entire year is going to be happy for even the luckiest person. The phrase, “Happy New Year” reminds me of another thing we frequently say to each other; “Have a nice day!” “Happy” and “nice” are all well and good, but how deep is their meaning in our lives? I would refer to myself as being happy when I am dancing. Dancing brings me happiness. I would describe the joy I feel from celebrating liturgy or holding my children with other words. When I see a kind act, such as a car stopping to let a group of children cross a busy street, I think of that as being nice.
So while I wish you all a happy New Year and as many nice days as possible, there is something deeper I’m trying to get to, something more like the salutation Saint Paul uses in his epistles; “The peace of God be with you.” How much greater than nice and happy is it to have the Peace of God wished upon us?
It is the peace of God that we should desire for each other. Having this peace allows us the strength to face days that aren’t nice and times of the year that won’t necessarily be happy. The Peace of God endures, even when happy and nice just fade away. The Peace of God gives us strength for the journey, for the whole year, no matter where our challenges take us.
This year is set to be great and memorable. This New Year offers all of us a chance to renew our commitment to Christ as Orthodox Christians and grow in our faith. Let us commit, or should I say, resolve (that way it is a resolution) to strive for the peace of God for ourselves and to help each other obtain it as well. In order to live within the peace of God we must allow our Faith to be a priority and not a once a week task or obligation.
There are five distinct ways to help us become a community more focused on Christ. This list will also help us find the peace of God. In 2021, let’s reset our focus and begin with the following:
- Regular and prompt attendance at Sunday Divine Liturgy. Regular indicates consisted attendance and prompt means being on time. We are on time for our soccer games, for work and school, and never pay $10 to walk into a movie 20 minutes late. It is time for us to reset Sunday as a “Day of Worship,” literally, “The Lord’s Day.” Services begin at 9:00 AM with Orthros.
- Daily Prayers. In order for our community to be focused on Christ, each of us, individually, needs to be set on Christ. Each day should begin with an intimate and personal conversation with Christ, TRUE PRAYER! Ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the evening. Prayer should also be offered before meals. As you pray over your food, 2 things should be included: 1.) Offering thanks to God for the blessings in your life, and 2.) A remembrance of the less fortunate.
- Volunteer! Join, sign-up, or assist with a ministry of the Church. Consider joining our Choir, Philoptochos, teach Sunday School, or offer your time to help plan and organize one of our many fundraisers.
- Educate yourself in the Word of God. Reading the Gospels and meditating on God’s Word is essential to Christian growth. Come to our Orthodox Study Classes at 7PM on Wednesday evenings and read the Bible daily. The ZOOM link is shared weekly.
- Forgiveness. Mend relationships that for one reason or another have deteriorated. Ask for and seek to offer forgiveness. Do not wait for the other person, you be the mature one and offer reconciliation.
May this be a year of spiritual strength and growth, may we all have a Happy New Year, and may the peace of God be with us all!
In Christ’s Service,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou