Monday, December 1, 2008
Picking Up Where We Left Off
Dear Parish Faithful,
For those who were travelling over the weekend, I hope that you are all back safe and sound and that your Thanksgiving weekend went well with relatives and friends. It is a blessing, indeed, to be able to consciously give thanks to God for our very lives and our salvation; together with the many blessings that we have in life, beginning with our families. And we thank God for the "family" of our parish, which gives us a deep sense of community and sharing together in the life in Christ.
The task now at hand, though, is to pick up where we may have left off concerning the Nativity Fast and our preparation for the Feast. Never more than now are we bombarded with every conceivable distraction, well-packaged in tinsel and warm fuzzy feelings, than these last three weeks before Christmas. Therefore, we need to be selective and manifest some spiritual "good taste" - one way of defining the gift of discernment. We want to enjoy the season, and desire the same for our children, but we do not want to lose our identity as Orthodox Christians in the process. Prayer, fasting and charity need to define us more than consumerism and a "shop-till-I-drop" approach to the season. Allow the Church to guide your life more than the shopping mall. The droning of piped-in-carols is superficial compared to the hymns of the Church. "Party" after we arrive at the Feast, not before. Reserve some energy for the festal season that marks the twelve days between Nativity and Theophany, rather than expend it all on the "x amount of days of shopping before Christmas." Budget charity into your spending, thus expanding your gift-giving in order to embrace the needy.
A good place to begin would be this coming Friday evening, when we commemorate our beloved St. Nicholas with a Vesperal Liturgy beginning at 6:00 p.m. Mark that on your calendar and make a point of being present. I hope to see many families and children at the service, since there is no school on Saturday. St. Nicholas prays for your children in heaven - not his later caricature, Santa Claus.
And again remember that our St. Nicholas Day Program and Charity Dinner are scheduled for this Sunday.