My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Our Risen Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
WE ARE UNITED IN CHRIST OUR
"There is ONE BODY and ONE SPIRIT, just as you were called
IN ONE HOPE of your calling, ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE
BAPTISM, ONE GOD and Father of ALL, and in you ALL" (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The Church is also is ONE IN ESSENCE. There is UNITY in the Church among its members and with the Almighty God. The Orthodox Christian becomes a child of God, a member of the Body of Christ or the Church, and inheritor of Eternal Life through the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Baptism. By receiving the True Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Mysterion of the Holy Eucharist, the Orthodox Christian believer is united with Christ and Eternal Life. Being UNITED WITH CHRIST IN THE DIVINE EUCHARIST, Orthodox Christian believers who receive Holy Communion ARE UNITED WITH EACH OTHER. "WE, BEING MANY, ARE ONE BODY, FOR WE ARE ALL PARTAKERS OF THAT ONE BREAD."
The uniting power of our Holy Church is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Proof of Orthodox unity is, "the CORRECT AND SAVING CONFESSION OF THE FAITH." As we know and believe, our unity in Christ God is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, true unity in God the Holy Trinity is unity in Truth, for God is Truth. "The unity of the Christian Church must be UNITY IN THE TRUTH OF GOD."
The average Orthodox Christian believer is certainly not aware of Orthodox theology, the current inter-Christian issues, the interaction between Christian people and other concerns of the Church. The average Orthodox believer is content to simply be able to worship freely, to receive the sacraments, to be an active member of the local parish, to feel a sense of belonging in the local parish, and be accepted by the rest of the church family. It may be that he or she is only satisfied to be involved in the local parish ministries, i.e., Parish Council, Choir, Religious Education, Youth and Young Adult ministry, Philoptochos, and fund-raising activities such as the annual Gree Festival, etc. Others seeking greater participation may be involved in the Metropolis Ministries and programs.
Unlike other Christian Confessions and traditions, the majority of our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ have not been educated religiously and have, therefore, limited knowledge of the Faith. The unfortunate reality, however, is that there is hardly any interest among the faithful to learn something more of the Faith. Sadly, due to that prevailing attitude, the home or domestic church (‘e-kat’ oikon ecclesia’), the Orthodox Christian home, has ceased to exist. Orthodox Christian children who are baptized grow up at a home devoid of any Christian learning, nurturing or church traditions. There are Orthodox children who tragically have no idea who Jesus Christ is!
What this does is place the Church in a precarious sitation and make it vulnerable to attacks. Perhaps this is one of the major reasons why over 65 percent of the young adults of our Church are leaving the Church. One would consider this fact as a major crisis in the Church. Church attendance of all the major Christian bodies has dramatically dropped from 75 percent from ten years ago, to approximately 45 percent currently. Our Orthodox Church in America, among all the Orthodox Jurisdictions, has witnessed that and perhaps even more. Should we not be concerned and alarmed about this predicament?
Orthodox Christians, no matter what their ethnic background may be, should work together and cooperate with each other to find common solutions to common problems. As they say, there is strength in unity. The background may be different, the language, and the customs, but the faith is the same. We, Orthodox Christian parishes, are SISTER CHURCHES AND BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST. Members of the body of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and God.
The world as we knew it has changed greatly and deliberately. It will continue to change quickly and at greater speed. Christianity and Christian values and precepts are under attack by a secular society. Synergy among Christians is of the utmost importance and necessity. Christians by the grace of God are able to resolve any challenge and prepare for all possible threats facing us. Undoubtedly, all of us, without exception, need to pray more earnestly and unceasingly to Our Savior Who continues watching over us and His Holy Church. Our faith in Christ must be true and unyielding. What we believe is that without Him we can do nothing!
I do believe, however, that the average Orthodox Christian believer is well educated otherwise and very intelligent. With the extraordinary communications technology that we possess and use daily, we ought to go beyond the needs of the local parish and find out what is happening in the local Metropolis, the Archdiocese, and Patriarchates all over the world. It is important for the Orthodox faithful to expand their horizons and to learn as much as possible of their Christian faith directly from your smartphones and from genuine Orthodox Websites.
For thousands of years, Christianity has been persecuted systematically in many countries, but it has flourished and triumphed over evil. We must continue to fight the good fight and to make sure that we defend the purity of the faith with courage and fortitude. We must not ever deviate from the fundamental principles of our Faith, that it alone preserves the fullness of the Apostolic Church.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in the Holy Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George