Christ-Centered Parish, Fr. Gary’s Message
I learn a lot of interesting things at committee meetings. At one meeting, when discussing the newsletter of our parish, The Myrrh-Bearer, someone frankly said, “Nobody reads that.” That person is either right or wrong depending on how much further you go into this message. At our most recent Parish Council meeting, a parish council member, politely, combined the conversation about healthy church finances with the status of our relationship with Christ.
It wasn’t me, I wasn’t preaching, it was one of YOUR ELECTED OFFICERS, that was sharing this thought. I was mesmerized by his conviction; I looked around at the other members and they were too! The Holy Spirit was present. His inspiration moved us to take the conversation about Parish financial health to a new level.
“Every year we consider ways to raise money. What fundraisers can we hold? How will we meet our obligation to the Metropolis and Archdiocese? How can we motivate better giving? Instead,” he went on, “How can we serve Christ? How can we instill a deep love for Jesus, in every member, young and old, so that our Parish becomes financially healthy and shows greater concern for how Christ-Centered we are as a group?”
It was refreshing to hear a leader of our community express these thoughts. I have offered them in the past, but it is cliché for the priest to say it, because I’m supposed to. A group begins to reexamine the metric for success when a respected member of the Parish Council looks intently at his peers and says, “Are you concerned for your salvation?” If we look at our challenges through the lens of salvation, that is, how what we do will enhance our relationship with Christ, a new perspective is born.
Following this new measurement brings with it a greater purpose. Applying “concern for our salvation” on every ministry, program, event, and meeting at St. Demetrios declares us Christ-Centered people. The Sacraments of our Orthodox Faith: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, Holy Unction, Confession, Marriage and Ordination, lead us towards a strengthened connection with Christ. A Sacramental view of our Parish affairs, likewise will lead us towards a strengthened connection with Christ. Everything we do is to be considered sacramental.
Consider each component of our life in the Church. How can each aspect (ministry, event, meeting, or program) lead to a greater understanding of who Christ is in our lives? How can we make His love real in the lives of others that participate? Every gathering becomes sacramental! From Moms and Tots, to Orthodoxy on Tap, with our Acolytes and Budget Committee meetings, during our Festival weekends, Greek Dance practices, Sunday School lessons, and at every BBQ, we ask, “how is Christ magnified?”
During this coming year, we will have plenty of opportunities to GLORIFY CHRIST. Let us then GLORIFY Him through all that we do. Then, in the end, all that participate feel His presence and are motivated to carry that inspiration. Slowly we change our local perspective, eventually changing the world.
At the end of that meeting, a council member suggested we create a “Mission Statement” for our Parish. The inspired one, giggled and said, “It’s on the cover of every Sunday Bulletin:
Mission Statement of our St. Demetrios Parish
To proclaim the Gospel of Christ, teach and spread the Orthodox Christian Faith, energize, cultivate, and guide the life of the Church according to the Orthodox Christian Faith and Tradition
After all, I guess not everyone reads everything.
In Christ’s Service,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou