Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last year at our clergy Lenten retreat, Father Artemy Vladimirov inspired us with his elevating talks. At one point, he spoke of a “land of miracles.” Of course, he was speaking of his homeland of Russia. As we look at the events of the past few weeks in our parish life, the realization dawns that the “miraculous country” can be found elsewhere as well.
As we go into our tenth year of life as a parish, we find ourselves rejuvenated by a series of miracles: an inspiring and timely visit by our long-time friend and spiritual counselor, Archpriest John Townsend; a blessed visit by the Mother of God in her miraculous Kursk Root Icon of the Sign; and a wonderful annual meeting of the parish. Yes, that’s right: a wonderful annual parish meeting.
How can this be? Has anyone heard of a wonderful parish meeting? How can such a mundane-sounding event be compared to the wonderful things that preceded it, especially the visitation from Her who bore our Savior?
We can dare to say that our parish meeting was wonderful because the preceding wonders brought us all in touch with that which buoyed us up. We say this because the uncertainty that clouded our minds as we entered the meeting was dispersed by the Holy Spirit’s aid and guidance. All present were brought in to the knowledge of and commitment to the principles of our founding. At this meeting, it was as if the parish was re-born, was founded anew.
Some attendees afterward said to me that a peace descended on the meeting that was brought about by the Mother of God. The general feeling was not unlike that which pertained when the wonder-working icon was with us. In reflection, this meeting was a moment to which Moses’ words to the children of Israel can be applied: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”
Would that all in our connection could have been present. We can all do something, though, with this and all the other gifts that have been rained down upon us. God’s love is the source of it all, of that to which Father John referred when he said, “you have everything.” We can love in return. We can, in fact are commanded to, return love, to love God and each other as we would love and have others love ourselves. Perfect love casts out fear, says our Lord. We can therefore in our divinely engendered love cast off the rags of fear and lack of faith that so easily snare us.
Let us show our love in our generosity and in our efforts for each other and, in short, in our faithfulness and devotion to the Church, the Body of Him who came and comes to save us who are her members.