Message From Our Vicar
As we have welcomed yet another New Year, let us thank God for all His care and blessings till now and look forward to His everlasting mercies. Let us build on the foundation of faith which has been laid down for us, and move forward ever fervently towards His Eternal Promise. In line with our parish tradition from previous years, the annual theme verse we have chosen as our focus and guide towards this Eternal Promise is Joshua 24:15.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” – Joshua 24:15.
These were the final words of Joshua, prophet and leader of Israel. He speaks these words to the Israelite people after calling them to assemble in God’s presence. There he recounts the history of Israel starting with Therah, the father of Abraham, and ending with the Israelites in Canaan. Joshua reminds the Israelites what the Almighty God has done for them throughout their journey from Egypt to Canaan. He projects the mighty work of God behind their victorious journey to Canaan and how much God showered His abundant mercy on them during their trials and tribulations. Through his words, Joshua paints for them the Great God of Israel and poses a very important question to them: Whom will you serve? Will it be the “idols of Canaan” or the “true God of Israel”? He does not wait for the answer of the majority; rather he himself pronounces thoroughly and deeply – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. The faithful respond with the same confidence, “We will serve the Lord and obey His voice”. Here we could think about our own Christian lives. Whom do we serve? The perishable idols of this world, or the True God – our Lord and God Jesus Christ?
Our family life is established by God through the Holy Sacraments of the Holy Church. During the first part of Holy matrimony, specifically during the blessing of the rings, the celebrant prays as follows: “Grant them the gift of blessed children and seasons of joy, enrich them with the riches of good deeds, confirm them in the true faith in you. May they remain in true faith and let their children also inherit the same”. However, where do we stand in this matter? Are we remaining in the faith and letting our children also inherit the same?
In reality, we give the least priority to our spiritual life. Just like the Israelites, we choose the vast amount of various idols in our surroundings. We continuously forget or disregard our vocation and commitment. We have been reduced to a group of people that have lost our faith. In the sea of this world, we find ourselves too weak to swim against the tides and currents that rage against us. A life of sacramental fulfillment was intended to provide us with formidable fins and scales that would armor us to pass through this temporary sea of life. As we find ourselves leading lives of spiritual laziness, lives without proper actualization of the sacraments, we find ourselves living as creatures that go wherever the sinful tides of this world take us. In a world that portrays even evil things as good, we often find ourselves as carriers and vehicles of evil rather than imitators of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are striving to live as Christians in a society whose majority has accepted idols of sin as “normal” and acceptable.
St. Gregorios of Parumala, our patron saint says, “Be obedient and yield to God in all matters. Separate good from evil, choose the good and discard the evil. Throw away laziness. Do good deeds day and night”.
The following Holy Biblical passages embody the real picture of a Christian home:
“10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. 11Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are [a]full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are [b]multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart [c]is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ 18 And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may [d]establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]homosexuals, nor [b]sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were [c]sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.Galatians 5:19-22
“19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: [a]adultery, [b]fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, [c]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”St. John 14:23
“If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my father will love him and will come to him and make our home with him”.
Let God’s Holy Spirit help and enable us to grow as people who call upon God, hear His voice, obey Him, and puts Christ as the leader, so that we can serve Him as individuals, as families, as a church, and as a parish.
With love, prayers and best wishes
Yours in Christ
Philip C. Achen