February 19, 2013

Seeking Peace, But Always Ready to Defend

“…Seek peace and pursue it… and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:11, 15)

In today’s Gospel, the Sadducees come together to see if they can trip-up Jesus with a question about the resurrection (they accepted only the first five books of Moses –the Torah—as authoritative and didn’t believe in the resurrection or any rabbinic tradition.) Jesus doesn’t meekly walk away, but engages them forcefully. “You know neither the Scriptures not the power of God” (Mk 12:24).

This is one of the antinomies of Jesus’ life and ministry. As “the Prince of Peace” He is entirely devoted to reconciling the world to God. And yet, in this process, on the ground in the day-to-day exercise of His vocation, Jesus shows us that there are times when wrong-headed, misleading and destructive ideas have to be called out for what they are. Because otherwise too many people will be led astray.

Peter’s first epistle says something similar, but here the emphasis is not on argument, but on willingness to know and share with others what it is that first made us disciples of Christ and to continue to follow him for the rest of our lives. That witness of our personal experience and our choices is often much more powerful than our arguments.

Diocesan Chancellors and Treasurers Meet at the Chancery

Chancellor & Treasurer meeting

Today the diocesan chancellors and treasurers from across the Orthodox Church in America will meet at the Chancery for a day of conversations and deliberations. We met last year as well and expect this to be an annual tradition, connecting with each other and catching up on the realities of what is happening in the parishes, deaneries and dioceses of our Church. Following a general sharing of experiences, the meeting will turn to OCA Treasurer Melanie Ringa for a focused discussion on church funding.

The 2011 All-American Council passed a resolution on reducing the “head tax” assessment and eventually replacing it with proportional giving, but the parishes and dioceses are at very different stages in that process. And in many parts of the US the economic downturn has taken a big toll. The OCA will have to look for alternative forms of funding and re-invigorate some that are already there, like the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards (FOS). There are hundreds of people who through FOS, as individuals—and parishes—believe in the mission of the OCA and support it well beyond the required assessments.