I want to thank all parishioners, visitors, and neighbors for attending this morning.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christ is in our midst!
This morning I read the gospel for the Martyrs we are commemorating today. In the Gospel of Luke, we heard:
Jesus said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And … there will be fearful sights … [and] they will lay their hands on you and persecute you … But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony … You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends … By your patience possess your souls.
I want to focus on “an occasion for testimony” – your testimony is evident today by your presence here this morning. Your testimony is your witness to the Truth, the truth of our faith, traditions, and canons. And your testimony is true. It is the same truth voiced by the martyrs we are commemorating today.
That we few are willing to give witness, to be strong in the faith of adversity, and not to yield to the world’s unholy powers is your testimony for eternity.
For your presence, I thank you with all my heart.
The Gospel reading also said, “By your patience possess your souls.” And I ask that we manifest our patience in all we do today and the coming days. We need to do this because of the journey to which we have committed ourselves. We need to let God lead us into the future to which He has called us.
In this regard, we need to “build our house, we need to [dig] deep and lay the foundation on the rock” (cf. Luke 6:48) that God has provided to us – in our diocese, with the blessing of our beloved bishop – who is providing us shelter and refuge during a time of turmoil, by remaining true not only today, but to eternity.
And it is the future that I want to talk to you about at this moment. We will build our house! We will make it different than the others around us. We will build it with our hands, with our love, and with our commitment – all the while giving thanks to God.
We will build our house, not with festivals and fairs. We will build it with our love.
We will do that which we know God wants us to do – by witnessing and taking care of our neighbor. Our philanthropy will be unprecedented. We will find a way to bake and share bread and food with our neighbors. We will be the example that every Orthodox Christian ought to be.
We will assume risks, believing and trusting that God will take care of us – and provide us the means needed to give witness.
We will go before the world knowing that “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And … there will be fearful sights … [and many will attempt to] lay their hands on you and persecute you” – but we will not yield.
Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ has led us to this moment, to this humble place – look around at the person next to you, beside you, behind you, and before you and remember this great day for the remainder of your life. Because never before in the history of mankind has such a crisis of confidence confronted our faith from within – and be ready to tell your children, and your children’s children, where you stood and what your choice was today . . . Because God is taking note and it may just be enough to merit His grace and enter into His kingdom.
“Live this day, and see old age.”
“From this day to the ending of the world, we shall be remember’d.”
We will move forward together, perhaps just a footnote in history, but it will be a bold story of commitment to Truth that you will be able to share – that historians will be able to share across time into the future – that a mighty few confronted the reality of this world and chose the reality of God as their compass.
Do not fear, for we are the people of Pascha.