“We will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” (Psalm 145:7)
Celebrating is a fundamental characteristic of the Christian life, as well as of human life. Everyone loves to celebrate and we all look for reasons to make merry and enjoy life.
As Christians, we have the greatest reason to celebrate and live in the joy of our Risen Lord. We live in the light of Christ’s Resurrection and under the reign of His victory over satan, sin and death itself. Of course, the final victory over evil won’t be complete until the Second Coming of Christ, yet we can still rejoice and celebrate knowing that His ultimate victory is ours and will indeed come!
Therefore, armed with this faith and knowledge of our Lord’s triumph, our lives should always be filled with a deep and eternal joy! Thus we can repeat with the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice.”
There are many different reasons and ways to celebrate and express the joy of our Lord. As we begin a NEW ECCLESIASTICAL YEAR on September 1, we rejoice for another new year of life! And within this new year we are reminded of the many joyous liturgical feasts and blessed fasts which complete our Church calendar. For example, this month of September holds several important moments when we celebrate the BIRTHDAY OF THE THEOTOKOS on Sept. 8th and the ELEVATION OF THE HOLY CROSS on Sept. 14th and special saints like St. Sophia and her daughters, Faith, Hope and Love, and St. John the Theologian.
Of course, I hope we always remember that the highest form of celebration comes when we gather together as the people of God, standing before the Throne of Grace worshipping our Almighty Lord and God in the Divine Liturgy. Our Lord Jesus Christ invites us to come to His heavenly banquet table weekly and receive His life-giving mysteries of Holy Communion! What a privilege it is to participate in a heavenly celebration joined by the angels and all God’s saints, and being united to Jesus Christ through the mystery of the Eucharist! Can there be a greater joy and celebration than this?!?
A more earthly form of celebration, though, which we all enjoy, comes when we gather together as a faithful Church Family and show our Christian love and hospitality to the larger community outside our church. Such opportunities offer us special moments to share our faith and love in concrete ways. Our annual GREEK FESTIVAL is one of these special times!!!
Our Church Festival is a wonderful time of Christian fellowship and stewardship. We offer our talents and gifts through our baking and cooking, we offer our love and kindness through our hospitality and love, as we share beloved traditions from our heritage and from our faith. We come together to eat and drink, to dance and discuss, to work and offer a witness of love to our surrounding community. What a joy it is to see our entire Church Family come out and help make our Festival such a success year after year. And every year I will inevitably hear numerous visitors comment about what a beautiful community we have, and what a delightful day of celebration our Festival is!
I want to thank the many people who offer their time and talents through volunteering during the two day festival, but also for the many people who have been working for weeks and even months to put the Festival together. A special thanks goes out to our Festival Chairpeople Lisa Healy and Marie McNally, along with the Festival Committee and all those who head up different parts of the Festival. They are a great example of being “good and faithful stewards” to our beloved Church.
I want to encourage everyone who is a part of our Sts. Constantine and Helen Church Family to please come out on September 7-8 and support our festival. Support it by volunteering and working on these two busy days. Contact Lisa or Marie or Evelyn Pappas to see where you can volunteer! Support our Festival as well by encouraging your family, friends and neighbors to come and enjoy the celebration here!
Our Festival is also a great time to overwhelm our visitors with Christ-centered love and hospitality. Who knows, maybe some of the hundreds of people who attend and enjoy our festival will think about returning and coming to join us during our weekly celebration in the Divine Liturgy! Maybe some will want to join this beautiful Church Family! I always look at our annual festival as a way to introduce people to our beautiful church family, and to invite them to “come and see” what our faith is all about!
May the Lord bless all of us during this special weekend of the Festival, and throughout this new ecclesiastical year!
With much joy and love in Jesus Christ our Lord,
True Greatness: Sacrificial Love and Selfless Service to Others
Our Orthodox Faith
Special Services and Blessings: Non-Sacramental Services Which Contribute to Spiritual Life