Focus On Christ This Lent
In an article entitled, The Abomination of our Fathers, Rev. Stephanou writes, “The church appears to be very busy, but in things that are secular and that engage her time in activities of this world." Rev. Stephanou then cites the words spoken by Christ to Martha, “You care and are troubled by many things, but there is need only for one thing. (Luke 10:41)” The one thing is Christ!
As Great Lent 2017 dawns, it is important that we take an inventory of our Spiritual investment. How focused on Christ are we as a Community? It seems that we can focus on budgets, financial statements, festivals, and dinner dances, but how do we fare when it comes to worshiping, glorifying and praising our God? Do we strive to fully please God in our actions? Are we focused?
Recently, during a Sunday Morning Liturgy, the Church was full and I mentioned to the Acolytes, prior to an entrance, how pleased I was to see the Church full in the middle of the winter and, also, admitted that I didn’t recognize one third of those attending. It was a joyful moment! The Liturgy continued and we glorified God in prayer and song.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew (Matt. 14:22-34), Peter asks Christ to allow him to join our Lord on the turbulent sea and walk on the water towards Him. Christ commands Peter to, “Come!” As Peter walks on the water, he loses focus and begins to sink. As Peter kept his eyes on Christ he was able to accomplish an amazing feat, a miracle! But when Peter lost his focus this physical world began to swallow him up. His focus was blurred by the stress and cares of the physical world and he began to sink! Christ, too, tells Martha, “there is need only for one thing.”
One thing . . . . CHRIST! Serving Him! Glorifying Him! Committing ourselves to Him! How well do we do these things? This community is blessed with so many brilliant professionals that share their talents with the Church Administration to help run a terrifically organized operation. It is apparent by the level of this professionalism how our Church excels. Oh, but how I wish on the last day we were judged by the quality of our Festivals, the dignity of our financial statements and the detailed precision of our budgets! Do not misunderstand me, these things are important, they keep the lights on and keep us afloat. It is imperative, though, that we evaluate our priorities in Christ! Why do we have a festival? Why do we have financial concerns? What is our budget for? To glorify Christ! To serve Christ! To show our commitment to Christ!
Starting with me, your Priest, let’s reset our focus this GREAT LENT! Let us reset our direction and let’s start to look deep within ourselves for spiritual growth and wellness. Here are some suggestions for our “Community-wide” LENTEN focus on Christ:
Regular and prompt attendance at Sunday Divine Liturgy. Regular indicates consisted attendance and prompt means being on time. We are on time for our soccer games, for work and school, and never pay $10 to walk into a movie 20 minutes late. It is time for us to reset Sunday as a “Day of Worship,” literally, “The Lord’s Day.” Services begin at 9:00 AM with Orthros. Orthros is a wonderful service, you should attend, but if you cannot, please arrive at 9:45 to prepare for Divine Liturgy.
Daily Prayers. For our community to be focused on Christ, each of us, individually, needs to be set on Christ. Each day should begin with an intimate and personal conversation with Christ, TRUE PRAYER! Ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the evening. Prayer should also be offered before meals. As you pray over your food, 2 things should be included: 1.) Offering thanks to God for the blessings in your life, and 2.) A remembrance of the less fortunate.
Volunteer! Join, sign-up, or assist with a ministry of the Church. Consider joining our Choir, Philoptochos, teach Sunday School, or offer your time to help plan and organize one of our many fundraisers.
Educate yourself in the Word of God. Reading the Gospels and meditating on God’s Word is essential to Christian growth. Come to our Orthodox Study Classes after Pre-Sanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evenings and read the Bible daily.
Forgiveness. Mend relationships that for one reason or another have deteriorated. Ask for and seek to offer forgiveness. Do not wait for the other person, you be the mature one and offer reconciliation.
It is easy for us to make ourselves feel busy and active in a Church with so many things and events happening, but the purpose of these “things” and “events” are to help us grow in Christ. Mother Teresa once walked out of a Christian conference on Mission and Evangelism in utter disgust. When asked why she left in the middle of the presentation, the saintly woman kindly responded, “Enough talk, let’s get to work.” Enough talk.
5 things to do this Lent: 1. Attend services, and be on time. 2. Daily Prayer 3. Volunteer 4. Read the Bible 5. Offer forgiveness
In Christ’s Service,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou