Greetings in Christ!
It is dually with great joy and solemnity that I write this letter following the great storm that was on our doorstep. In willful thanksgiving I pray to our Christ, God and to His Saints and our ceaseless intercessors St. Nicholas and the Archangel Michael, for guiding and protecting us unharmed through the storm. At the same time I pray for the renewal, peace, and health of our brothers and sisters in Christ who were in the path of this great thalassic storm. Our Parish has begun a relief fund from Wednesday night after the Great Doxology and Divine Liturgy that was held in thanksgiving for our deliverance. If we are at all able to provide relief both spiritual and physical in nature, to our brothers and sisters in distress, we should do so with joy so that they might be lifted up again and rejoice in Christ God.
On Saturday the twenty fourth of September we successfully hosted the first regional GOYA event of the year. The 2022 2nd Annual St. Nicholas GOYA Dodgeball tournament was a fantastic example of community, on a grander scale than our internal community alone. We received 100 participating Goyans at the doorstep of our cathedral in the morning. We prayed the daily orthros together, and proceeded with the sport activity in the Spanos Pappas Community Center. One thing that makes this event unique is the conscious decision to remove the barrier of parish allegiance by randomizing the teams. By doing so, the opportunity to create lasting bonds of kinship becomes plausible as we provide opportunities to see each other as brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors in Christ. Rather than competition against each other to prove superiority or capability.
As a side note, If we desire the latter, we have the whole world to look to, and there are no shortages of local teams to join and support to satisfy those desires. However in the church especially as in all things, everything that we do should be focused on Christ, whether it relates to the children of our community or our adults.
This Coming Wednesday the fifth of October, we have our second Parish Ministry Night to look forward to! The first instance of this new ministry was a wonderful success, we had over 80 parishioners of all ages, representing all of our ministries. The topic of learning in September was concerning the Holy Cross. This month we will turn our attention to the Holy Protection of the Theotokos! We hope to see you at six in the evening as we begin with Great Vespers, followed by dinner, break out groups for learning and discussion, and finally dessert before ending the evening.
Today we will have heard from the Gospel of Luke, 6:31-36. My challenge for us this week is simple: read the Gospel over as many times as you might feel necessary to absorb its message, contemplate the message and the weight they place on our own thoughts, words and deeds. Identify something that you might struggle with concerning this message, and finally make a concerted effort to adjust yourself toward Christ's teaching. The greatest enemy we have in reaching salvation in Christ is ourselves individually. The ego is often what prevents us from coming closer to Christ, and blocks us from salvation. The larger we inflate our egos, we become less sensitive to the needs of our own souls, and that of our neighbors, and quickly a jaded sense of reality consumes us. Opposing Christs call for us to become child-like, our ego prevents us from acting in God's Love. The deflation of our egos in the opposite sense allows us to see more clearly the benefit and joy of Christ’s calling for us to come closer to him as one.