Message from Fr Gary Jan 2016

BE A PIG!

A pig and a chicken were walking by a Church one day. They noticed a sign that said, “Free Bacon and Egg Breakfast this Saturday.” The chicken insisted to the pig that they should attend. The pig was quite hesitant. As the chicken’s patience evaporated he asked, “What’s the problem? Let’s go! At least we can see how they prepare our offerings.” The pig scared and panicky said, “My friend in the preparation of a bacon and egg breakfast, you are ‘involved,’ however, I AM COMMITTED!”

As we begin the New Year I want to urge us all to be PIGS! How much more invested is one that dedicates their entire being to the community, rather than just making an offering. Anyone can be involved, (and that can be a good thing), but it is commitment to one another, to Christ and His Church that is going to make our community successful! And success is determined by our faithful desire to be true servants of Christ!

“Let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God!” This wonderful petition is repeated many times during the Divine Liturgy. In everything we do, every ministry, from the oldest parishioner to the youngest, this petition serves as our premise and foundation of faith.

In order for our community to be the light of Christ, we must be committed to our Church. Being involved in the ministry of our Parish is acceptable, but our commitment to our Church is the fundamental key to it’s success. There is a major difference between “involvement” and “commitment.”

In the Melanesian islands of the South Pacific during WWII, the natives watched closely as the American and British engineers came in and built airstrips. The islanders were amazed to see that when the airstrips were completed, planes began to arrive filled with cargo: food, building materials, machinery, even vehicles. This, they decided, was something they wanted in on. The Melanesians deduced, that if they built airstrips, then planes would come to them, too, likewise bringing cargo.

They accordingly hacked makeshift runways out of the jungle and built mock-up control towers out of grass and mud. They put fires along the sides of the runways, and put a man in the grass-hut control tower, with two coconut halves on his head for headphones, they rigged antennas out of bamboo and then they waited for the airplanes to land. As far as they could see they were doing everything right.

The form was perfect. It looked exactly the way it was supposed to. But it didn’t work. No airplanes ever came. (John Derbyshire, National Review Online, June 14, 2002 "It’s All America’s Fault: The cargo-cult mentality")

We, like the natives, can come into the sanctuary, light our candles, kiss the icons, do our cross, and make believe that we are fruitful Christians, or we can “commit ourselves and one another to Christ” and be the bearers His light! Commitment is defined in three ways: 1.) noun: the trait of sincere and steadfast fixity of purpose, 2.) noun: the act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action, 3.) noun: a message that makes a pledge.

The New Year presents us many opportunities to offer ourselves to one another, Christ, and His Church. The first way to commit ourselves is to become true stewards of the Church, by submitting an adequate pledge and financial donation to our Church. Our giving must be elevated to reflect the beauty and true needs of our new Agape Building. Prayerfully consider a pledge that reflects the responsibility that has been entrusted to us. Another way to show your commitment is to attend wor-ship services faithfully. Divine Liturgy begins promptly at 10:00 AM every Sunday. Let’s set aside the early hours of Sunday morning to commune with God. Also, the coming spring brings with it Great Lent and the opportunity to advance our spiritual lives. Participate in the Lenten services with your family. Still another “commitment” is to serve at our Annual Greek Festival (June 24-26). The Greek Festival is a great way for us to display the richness of our Greek Culture and an even better opportunity to demonstrate our Orthodox

Faith, our Christian Ethos and “COMMITMENT” to one another and our greater community.

We all begin the New Year by making resolutions, promises we will fulfill, and some we may never realize. This Year may our shared declaration be our “Commitment to one another and to Christ our God!” I am committed to leading St. Demetrios along the sparkling path of our Orthodox Faith. Join me on this journey as we strive to serve each other, implementing the words St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

In other words….Be a pig!

Happy New Year!

In Christ’s Service,

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary Dec 2015

Challenges for 2016

St. Paul inspires the Hebrews to stand firm and increase their desire to be like Christ. In his letter to the Hebrews, at 12:1, he writes, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Life as a race is a metaphor we can easily comprehend. The clever athlete prepares weeks in advance, she doesn’t wait until the night before to start her training. As Orthodox Christians we are “ATHLETES FOR CHRIST.” In this month’s Myrrh-bearer, I would like to issue a “challenge” for the upcoming New Year, 2016. I ask that we all adhere to this “Spiritual Training” as a way for us to grow in our Faith.

Beginning January 1, 2016, as a Community New Year’s Resolution, I ask that we all:

1. Attend Sunday Divine Liturgy regularly and promptly: Sundays are SACRED. Our planners should indicate that we are busy on Sunday mornings, because we are called to corporate prayer. Always arrive promptly for Sunday Liturgy. Just as we are on time for our soccer games, work and school, and never pay $10 to walk into a movie 20 minutes late, let us set Sunday as a “Day of Worship,” literally, “The Lord’s Day.” Services begin at 10:00AM (Orthros at 9:00)

2. Daily Prayers. Constant communication with God is imperative as believers. I ask that we pray the following prayer each day for specific groups of our Parish:

O Lord, our God, please bless the _________________________ with a sacred desire to serve with gladness and dedicated hearts. Assign a Guardian Angel to walk before them so that they grow in faith and discernment. Multiply their efforts, sanctify their work and bless all of their endeavors. Grant them well-being and health. Grant them understanding, peace and happiness in this life to help them fulfill Your will. AMEN

· Mondays: Pray for the leadership of our Parish. Pray for our Parish Council, Committee Chairpersons and Members of: AHEPA, Building (PDI), Capital Campaign, Coffee Hour, Daughters of Penelope, Golf Tournament, Greek Festival, Legal, Stewardship and Website Committees

· Tuesdays: Pray for our Irene Chapter of the Ladies of Philoptochos.

· Wednesdays: Pray for the Youth of our community: Altar Boys, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Youth Dance Groups, Greek School and Sunday School teachers and their Students, and all the young people of our church.

· Thursdays: Pray for our Parea Group, VIPs and all of the senior citizens of our parish.

· Fridays: Pray for those who contribute to the enrichment of our Church. Pray for our Chanters, Choir, Staff, Stewards, Ushers, and Volunteers.

· Saturdays: Pray for the parishioners of St. Demetrios and any one that might be sick, suffering, lonely or seeking to find God’s peace.

· Sundays: Pray for the everlasting memory of our departed loved ones. Pray for the Orthodox Christian Church. Our Patriarch Bartholomew, Metropolitan Gerasimos, all clergy, deacons, monastics who God has established to feed the flock of Your Word.

3. Educate yourself in the Word of God. A weekday, Monday-Friday, reading guide has been prepared for the year. By sticking to this plan you will read the entire New Testament (The Gospel of Matthew through Revelation) by the end of the 2016. Milestones are easily set and marked so that you do not fall behind. Reading and knowing God’s Word is essential to Christian growth.

4. Offer 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 2016 be a year of spiritual strength and growth!

Have a Happy New Year, and may the peace of God be with us all!

In His grace now and always,

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary Nov 2015

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. For His mercy endures forever!” Psalm 136:1 On Thursday, November 26, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. This is an important holiday in our great nation; however, giving thanks is an even more important aspect of the Christian life. Businesses and schools will close so that we can enjoy the festivities with our families. What a splendid day! Surrounded by our closest friends and family, we stuff our faces with traditional foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, (and if you grew up in a Greek family, grape leaves; something the Pilgrims didn’t have!). In countries throughout the world, the last Thursday in November is exactly that, merely the last Thursday in November. It is nothing special, just business as usual.

It is an ideal American Tradition to specifically acknowledge gratitude in November, but as Orthodox Christians we must realize that we do this on a weekly basis (at least) in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The climax of the liturgy, the Eucharist (Holy Communion) is Christ offering His Body and Blood for our salvation! Eucharist comes from the Greek word eucaristo, which means, “Thank you.”

THE DIVINE LITURGY was in practice right after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Disciples of Christ on the 50th day after His Resurrection. It was officiated long before the beginning of the writings of the New Testament. The Divine Liturgy, as such, was the center of the inspiration of the first Christians in their communion with God and with one another. Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald writes, “The Eucharist is not so much a text to be studied, but rather an experience of communion with the Living God in which prayer, music, gestures, the material creation, art and architecture come into full orchestration. The Eucharist is a celebration of faith, which touches not only the mind but also the emotions and the senses.”

The description we clergy usually hear about liturgy is, “It’s too long!” or “We stand too much!” Boredom, during the Divine Liturgy is a classic symptom, however it is one that is easily cured. If you find yourself daydreaming during liturgy, try one of the following suggestions: 1.) Focus your attention on a specific icon and pray to that Saint. Pray that distractions are deflected and that your heart is opened. 2.) Open the Divine Liturgy text and follow along. Read the inaudible prayers that the Priest recites during the hymns. This will improve your understanding of the liturgical functions of the Priest. 3.) From the text of the liturgy choose a specific petition and dissect it, giving it a more precise definition (i.e. “For travelers by land, sea, and air, for the sick, the suffering, the captives, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.”) Who do you know that is traveling? Is your spouse on a business trip? Do you know any one who may be sick, suffering, or held in captivity? Then pray for them. This is what the liturgy is about. It is not a choir performance, or a chanting exhibition. The word “liturgy” literally means, “the work of the people.”

The work that we are called to do during liturgy is to pray, “pray for peace in the world, abundance of the fruits of the earth, and peaceful times.” All the prayers offered in the Divine Liturgy are presented in the plural form, “Let us pray,” “Save us, O Son of God,” “Let us be attentive,” “For our deliverance,” “We give thanks,” “Make us worthy, O Master,” etc!

Our Lord pours His blessings and mercy upon us daily! He makes us worthy to receive His loving grace, and His love for us is boundless. That our country puts everything on hold, and as great as an American Holiday that Thanksgiving is, we should find ourselves giving thanks on a more regular basis. Our Lord has blessed us with so much. Our community of St. Demetrios should be thankful for the many great blessings we receive on a daily basis!

In His grace now and always,

Fr Gary