September 1, 2009
To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful
of the Orthodox Church in America
The Lord said:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18f.
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
The Blessing of the Lord be upon you!
As we celebrate the Church’s New Year, we meditate on the Gospel for this day, where the Lord went to Nazareth and was handed the Scriptures, and read the above. He then said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The question we have to ask ourselves is, How is this fulfilled in my life? How have I entered into the Lord’s ministry, preaching the good news to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, giving liberty to captives, and so forth? Am I even paying attention to this?
Our Church has many challenges before it, financial, legal, organizational. But we must remember that, as important as these things are, as critical as they may be the life of our Church at this time, they can quickly become distractions from the one thing needful: to keep focused on Jesus Christ and the ministries which He has given us as a means of participation in His own ministry. While we might have budget challenges, there is nothing that can prevent us from preaching the Gospel, consoling those alone and abandoned, and setting at liberty those held captive by their sins.
We have been “recreated in Christ for good works.” Let us do that work, not because we expect a paycheck or recognition for doing it, but because it is the very nature of who we are as Christians: to manifest the Kingdom by showing love for our neighbor. Let us recover our spiritual sight, in Christ by the Spirit, so that we may know that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and has anointed us to do the Lord’s will.
Each one of us has been anointed by the Lord do the works of God—in chrismation. We don’t have to wait for a program or a department to do them. In whatever walk of life, no matter who we are, we are called to enter into the Lord’s labors. So let us put aside all distraction, keeping all things in their proper perspective, with our attention and focus firmly on Jesus Christ. We then might just find that our distractions and crises are not so big as we thought they were and that we have been given everything that we need to resolve them, if we indeed can maintain our awareness of Christ, striving for the fulfillment of His will.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada