Syosset, New York
November 1, 2002
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is Love.” (1 John 4:8)
On behalf of the thousands of people who were helped last year with gifts from the 2001 Orthodox Church in America Charity Appeal and the Special Emergency 9/11 Relief Fund, thank you once again for your loving support. Because of your offering, the Church was able to help people in need- especially in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States.
In the midst of a world embroiled in conflict, the imperative of love cannot be forgotten. Indeed, the imperative of love is the very life of Christ. Thus, for Christians love is not an option or merely something we are asked to consider. Rather, love—the love of Christ—is what we are called to embody in word and in deed. St. John in his First Epistle goes on to say: Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…and this commandment we have also from Him, that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4). It is God’s love that defines our relationship with Him. We know God because He loved us first, even unto death!
God’s love is charity or mercy. Showing merciful love towards us, even when we are mired in sin, is God’s love toward us. Thus, when we love our neighbor as God loves us, we are living out the way Christ loved us and continues to love us—each day! What makes this offering of charitable and merciful love meaningful is that it can help us transcend our limited selves. It can move us beyond our cares and concerns. It can move us beyond our view of the world so that we can see the world and those in it from another vantage point—and ultimately from the most important vantage point—through the eyes of Christ! One lesson we all learned from 9/11 was our capacity to move beyond our own limits and give more of ourselves than we ever thought possible—even to the point of giving up our lives for the sake of others.
My dearly beloved in the Lord, my prayer is that we can continue to offer more of ourselves to Christ and neighbor: that we can truly incarnate the words prayed at each Divine service, let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God. My prayer is that by our actions, Christ’s charitable and merciful love will be witnessed in our homes and neighborhoods, where we work and where we gather. My prayer is that our parish communities will be active and visible centers of charitable compassion and outreach.
I encourage you to give generously to the 2002 Orthodox Church in America Charity Appeal so that our Church may always be ready to help those who come to our doors for assistance. May God bless you for each act of love and care you offer and for your Charity Appeal gift that we can offer on your behalf.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada>