“WITH THE FEAR OF GOD, IN FAITH
AND IN LOVE, DRAW NEAR”
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
After well over 40 days of preparation, hopefully taking an introspective look at ourselves in relationship with God and one another, re-living the Week of Passion and the Crucifixion of our Lord and then celebrating His glorious and life giving Resurrection, where are we now? What is this time really about for you and me here, today?
In order to answer these questions, let’s re-examine the first centuries of our Christian Faith. The Lenten preparation for Pascha was initially about baptism. Adults, some of whom had prepared for as long as three years, went through their final days of preparation for illumination into the Faith in the 40 days prior to Holy Week. Their baptisms were then celebrated on Pascha Sunday in the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection. Can you imagine how they must have felt, when they heard for the first time, after such a preparation, the words of the deacon or priest, “In the fear of God, with faith and love draw near”, inviting them to receive Holy Communion with the faithful? Their months and years of preparation surely would have brought them to a fear or awe of God. After all, this God—above imagination, All-Powerful—submitted to become a simple and humble man, taking the sins of humans on His shoulders. He died for all and for each person, so that all and each person might live eternally. “What God is so great as our God…” they must have felt. And surely they believed in Him. No god of the pagans was a god like God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No God became a man, died and resurrected like Jesus. No god of old was All-Powerful and yet All-Humble, with them yet separated from them, visible yet invisible.
And then, there was love. The fear or awe of God is most about recognition of God’s love for humankind and for each person. When the deacon or priest invited them to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord for the first time, he invited each of them personally, by their new Christian name, as the “servant of God”. The love of God, at that moment must have become for each of them, deeply intimate. Their time of preparation, of study, of commitment in faith, of prayer was realized as the warmth of “the cup of salvation” permeated their very being. The Bread and Wine transformed, now the Body and Blood entered and completed every member of their body so that they became a new member of the Body of Believers, the Body of Christ.
So, where are we now, centuries later? What is this time of Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha really about for you and me? We are invited to live anew, to renew our own baptism with fear and awe, with faith and commitment, and ultimately with love. We are invited to accept once again, the eternal love for us of our Lord and God, allowing Him into our lives most intimately and personally so that He may be our Lord and Savior and we His servants. We are invited to allow His love for us to set us free to love Him, by loving one another. This IS what it is all about. “With the fear of God, in faith and in love draw near.”
On behalf of our clergy and Parish Council, I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s holy days and Pascha so beautiful and special – our choir, chanters, acolytes, Philoptochos and Ministry Teams, cookers, bakers, cleaners, decorators, philanthropists, volunteers and staff. Glory to God for all you do. May His Resurrection shine brightly in your hearts today and always. Until next year . . . (Kai tou chronou!)
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
With our Lord’s blessings, Fr. Lou