Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
At this time of the year, the secular media regularly reminds us of the number of “shopping days” left until Christmas. In contrast, our Church reminds us of the approaching Feast of Our Lord’s Nativity in a much more peaceful and loving manner through the Nativity Fast. The Church’s celebration of Our Lord’s birth is a celebration of the ultimate gift given to humanity—the gift of “God with us.” And in preparation for the reception of this gift, we are reminded to live a life of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, sacrificing for those around us in imitation of Our Lord, Who sacrificed so much for our sake.
In today’s society, it becomes more and more apparent to me that, while we live in the most prosperous region of the world during the most prosperous period in history, we also live in the most self-centered society—a society which turns a blind eye to those in need and to those who require our assistance more than ever before. And while the media reminds us of the uncertain economic conditions in which we live in and the need to stimulate the economy through increased spending, it fails to remind us of the many people who need our love, prayers, and charitable assistance.
The Orthodox Church in America’s Annual Charity Appeal was established to assist those who need financial assistance to offset medical expenses, loss of medical benefits, insurance premium increases, ongoing unemployment, and numerous other things we so often take for granted in our own lives. Requests for assistance arrive at the Chancery weekly, and the burden placed upon the Church to offer increased and ongoing assistance to those in need continues to grow. It is only through your support of the Charity Appeal that the Orthodox Church in America can address these requests.
This year, I ask you to make the 2003 Charity Appeal a family activity. Take a moment with your family to prayerfully reflect upon making a sacrificial gift to the 2003 Charity Appeal, and discuss how your donation to the Charity Appeal is a reflection of your willingness to return to God a portion of the blessings you have received. And then put your faith into action by sending your generous contribution to the 2003 Charity Appeal, knowing that you will be reaching out to others who desparately need your help with the same love with which Our Lord reaches out to you.
Your support of the 2003 Charity Appeal makes it possible for us to help ease the burdens of those in need and to provide comfort to those who have fallen on difficult times. I ask for your prayerful, generous and sacrificial support in our efforts to reach out to others. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who need our prayers, our love, and our support.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada