|A Wondrous Gift Is Given|
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are come to the verge of our great opportunity for service to the Lord. He has led us to this point as surely as He led the children of Israel from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan, as surely as He came to dwell among us in His incarnation, as surely as He triumphed over death and sin for the sake of our salvation in His death and resurrection. Like the children of Israel of old and the new-made Church from among the remnant of His people and from among the gentiles, we are His people, we at this little parish of the Holy Apostles.
We know we are His because his gifts to us are miraculous and undeserved, and much needed, especially for the sake of our growth and future as a parish. He has given us an opportunity to carry forward and better a neglected historical legacy, to raise up that which has fallen. He has given this to us so that His servants might praise Him from this little corner of His creation. The English poet, George Herbert, says “Let all the world in every corner sing” to God, and God has shown us by His actions toward us that He means for our new corner of the world, our hilltop temple, to reawaken in divine song.
Let us take up the task as did Miriam, the sister of Moses, when it was time to dance and sing to God for His great victory. Let us fulfill His victory and move to our new land, given to us by Him. Let us not fear the “giant” of this land, the amount of money that it is going to take to complete the task, because God has already cut the giant way down to a very contained and finite size. It is a giant that with our sacrifice we can bring down. We can sacrifice our own money, of course. We can also sacrifice our time to ask others to work on the parish fundraising efforts, for another example. And we can always at all times pray, pray for each other, pray for the benefactors, the Christian Brothers, pray for the Historical Commission of Prince George’s County which will have a say in how we proceed, and pray for those people who will be our benefactors.
God has given us so much, not only that we might have a new larger temple, but that we as Christians might grow in grace and sanctity, in devotion. We remember that three years ago, our departed Metropolitan Laurus of most happy memory came to us on that Sunday of All Saints to remind us of saintly devotion, not only in what he said, but through his own example, in pouring out his waning strength for his beloved flock. Here is in part what he said:
“The first Sunday after the feast of Holy Trinity is called the Sunday of All Saints. On this day the Holy Church prayerfully glorifies all the saints who have pleased God from the ages. Included in this Sunday are the Holy Apostles, prophets, martyrs, bishops, monks, nuns, fools for Christ and all the righteous ones.
Honoring the memory of All Saints soon after the Feast of Holy Pentecost, the Holy Church desires in this way to show that sanctity is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which was abundantly poured forth on the Holy Apostles and through them in the Holy Church is poured forth on all believers.
The Holy Spirit made wise and raised to the ranks of the angels men like unto us, and others were crowned with sanctity for their ascetic and righteous lives. The ascetic feats of the saints were various, as today's Epistle reading informs us. The saints conquered enemies visible and invisible with faith. They patiently endured poverty and all kinds of adversity, persecution, martyrdom, and different forms of death.
The gospel reading of today testifies that the saints were true confessors of the Holy Faith as they left all behind that hindered them from following the Lord or that prohibited them from fulfilling His holy commandments.
And in the same way that they confessed the Lord before people, before mankind, does the Lord Jesus Christ confess the saints before His Heavenly Father. The saints whose memory we commemorate today followed the Lord, they followed His call, and took upon themselves the cross and carried it.”
Amen. Let us make no mistake. We are being called. Let us follow the call, and take up this cross with joy. Vladyka Laurus said at the very end of his homily, “May God help you. I will ask that all saints pray to God for us. Amen.”