December 31, 2020
Bless the crown of the year with Thy Goodness, O Lord!
- Psalm 64
Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Happy and Blessed New Year!
Following our celebration of the Lord’s Birth, we now see before us the beginning of the Year of Our Lord 2021. At this time last year, we had plans and hopes for what the new year would bring; we certainly had no idea of what lie ahead of us. The early months of 2020 introduced us to a “novel” disease that affected the whole world as it quickly morphed into a true a pandemic. With the arrival of the novel coronavirus, our lives were drastically changed. With it there came new ways of social interaction- the wearing of masks, conducting much of our lives and business online, more time at home, limited travel and social interaction, church activities being curtailed, and even in some cases “attending” the Divine Services via the internet. Things that used to be so easy to do quickly suddenly became more difficult, complicating our routines and our established, “normal” way of life.
Clearly, the year that is now ending has been very difficult. To one degree or another we have all been affected by the coronavirus disease. Many are struggling financially. Parents have faced new parenting and scheduling challenges. Some have understandably suffered emotionally. We have all been asked to make personal sacrifices for the greater good. All too many families had empty chairs when they sat down for their Christmas dinner. And, in addition to worries about public health, political division and tension in our nation has been all too pervasive and consuming.
A saying that is variably cited as an ancient Chinese proverb, as a quote of Eleanor Roosevelt, or as having its origin in the writings of any number of notables is “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” It is also well known as the motto of The Christophers, i.e., “Christ-bearers,” a Christian organization dedicated to peace and unity among believers. Whoever and whatever its source, this quote is certainly applicable to our present days and circumstances in which, burdened with concerns about COVID-19, the state of society and the world and even our daily lives, we end up all too often simply complaining about the situation. We go to that “dark place” rather than seeing any of the good that still exists in the world and in our lives. All too often, we choose to sit in darkness rather than light a candle.
The Lord Jesus reminds us that we are people of light and urges us to bring light into the darkness of this world. In the Sermon on the Mount, He tells us “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). These words are a powerful reminder to all of us. As Christians, our very lives are meant to bring light into the darkness, love where there is hatred, peace where there is strife, and unity where there is division. Though imperfect, we are nonetheless all “Christ-bearers,” which means that we are also bearers of the Light of Christ which illumines all.
As we welcome the New Year, we remain unsure about what it will bring with it. We all have hopes for better, more stable, happier, and brighter times. Yet we are still uncertain and unsure. However, of one thing we can be sure: brightness will come more quickly and will illuminate the darkness of the world if we are willing to “light a candle” and not simply “curse the darkness,” if we are willing to let the Light of Christ which shines within us to also shine outwardly. As we enter this New Year, let us continue to support one another through our prayers. “Let us commend ourselves and each other and all our lives unto Christ our God.” May our first resolution of 2021 be to let our “light shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father Who is in heaven.”
With gratitude for each one of you and sending you and your families my prayerful best wishes for a bright, happy, and healthy New Year, I am, as always
Yours in the love of Christ,
CONFESSIONS- Everyone seems to be busy at this time of the year: busy traveling, busy working, busy getting ready for Christmas, busy making or purchasing gifts. As the Feast of the Lord’s Nativity draws near, do not forget to also prepare yourself spiritually before receiving the Holy Gifts on Christmas morning. An essential part of our spiritual preparation is the confession of our sins and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness. Confessions are heard before the Divine Services or by arrangements with Bishop DANIEL, Father David or Father Mihai. Social distancing and masks are worn for confessions.
TIME FOR THANKS: As we enter the season of the Lord’s Nativity, we pause and give thanks for the many blessings we have received throughout the year, especially the blessings received because of the generosity in time, talents, and treasures of our parish community. There are too many people to name individually. The Lord knows you all… But please be assured of the gratitude of Archbishop BENJAMIN, Bishop DANIEL, Father David, Father Mihai, Deacon John, all the clergy and faithful of our parish community. May the Lord Himself, He Who is “God with Us,” be your reward!