“Many members but one body - Working together for the glory of God”
Well, our annual festival is here once again, and what a hectic yet joyous time for our Sts. Constantine and Helen family. Many parishioners have been wonderful stewards of their time and talents in busily preparing for all the visitors who are coming to our church this weekend. What a beautiful sight to see our Church family working together in harmony and peace, all for the glory of God. As so many people offer their time and gifts to the Church, we have to say very clearly that no one person can say they hold the most important job, because the only way we can to do something beautiful for God this weekend is if we all work together – if we all realize that we are all essential members of the same body! One person is the hand, another the foot, another the eye, another the heart, but all together we make up one body. And that one body is the body of JESUS CHRIST!
Sometimes we forget to think about this Festival in relation to our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet we should carefully remind ourselves that all we do this weekend – from the baklava to the souvlaki, from the Greek dancing to the wonderful fellowship – any and every activity we do this weekend, we do out of our love for Jesus Christ and His Church. Even our main purpose for holding an annual festival shouldn’t be to solely make money, or to share our ethnic customs and foods with the general community. Our main purpose needs to be for our Sts. Constantine and Helen community to come together as a loving Orthodox family, offering a witness of Christian love to every person that comes to our festival, and ultimately glorifying God through our baking, dancing, fellowship, and love – through all our actions.
And I pray that each of us will keep this central goal in mind today. May the hundreds of people who visit our Festival feel authentic Christian love and hospitality. May they see how we work together in unity and love. May they taste a piece of our ethnic heritage, but more importantly may they go away with a better understanding of our religious identity and heritage.
As we serve our guests today in whatever capacity, let us consciously try to bring the love of Christ to each person in a special and concrete way - through a smile, with a touch, by a word of greeting, encouragement and thanks, and most importantly, with a contagious joy and love that proclaims the sovereignty of God in our lives.
Mother Teresa once advised her missionaries “to never let anyone come to us without feeling better and happier when they leave. Be the living expression of God’s kindness. Proclaim Christ by the way we talk, by the way we walk, by the way we laugh, the way we work, by our life - so that everyone will know that we belong to Him.”
Our Church Festival offers such an opportunity for this type of Christian witnessing. Remember, we are all ambassadors of Christ no matter what we’re doing. If we’re taking out the trash, let us do it with a smile. If we’re cleaning pots and pans, let us encourage each other and share in joyous Christian fellowship. If we’re cooking the gyros or distributing the pastries; if we’re talking with our guests and serving them, let them know that we love them because of the love Jesus Christ has for us.
This is what it means to be an Orthodox Christian and to live a Christ-centered life. When we don’t separate our lives into the religious and profane, but learn to relate everything that we do to Christ, no matter how menial or simple, and when we learn to seek out every opportunity to share the love of Christ with others, then we may realize that we are on the path of salvation. The Bible says, “Let all that you do, be done in love.” Love is our motivating factor, and love is the message we want to get across to all the visitors who come to the Festival.
Such divine love is the message we heard about in the Gospel reading for today. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” Almighty God loves each one of us, and if we accept His love and fill our lives with His divine love, we can then share this divine love with everyone we encounter – everyone at the festival and in our every day life that we meet.
So let us leave the liturgy today having worshipped our almighty God, having tasted of his eternal gifts, and having been filled with his ineffable presence, and let us go out now, continuing to live the liturgy among all the people who will visit our Festival today, sharing the joy, love and peace of Jesus Christ and glorifying His Name through our actions and lives.
God be with us all! Amen!!