September 2020 Reflections
Dear St. John’s Parishioners,
With September comes the end of summer, but it also signals for us the beginning of a new Church Year. The Calendar of the Church with its cycle of Feasts and Fasts begins each year on September 1.
As we mark the passing of one year and the beginning of another, we find it natural to take stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going. To be sure, this past year has been a very difficult one. The COVID pandemic has caused enormous loss and suffering, and continues to do so. We all struggle with the limitations placed on us as a result of the pandemic, and so many suffer the economic hardship resulting from it. In addition, our nation in this election year suffers from deep divisions and conflict. There is much social unrest, and one can easily get the impression that we are sinking deeper into moral and social chaos.
In days such as these, however, as Orthodox Christians we are called upon to live from a very different perspective. We know that our lives are in Christ Jesus – no matter what the suffering, no matter what the hardship, we belong to Christ. His Kingdom is not of this world. His Kingdom is within us, as we submit ourselves to Him. We pray for an end to the pandemic and for the scientists working diligently to find a vaccine. We pray for an end to hatred, violence, and injustice. But we also know that true healing and peace comes only from being in relationship with Christ.
The myriad of problems besetting our communities, nation and world, are not ultimately solved by social programs or political movements. Rather, we must begin on the individual, personal level – we must begin with ourselves.
The beginning of the new Church Year is a time for us to examine ourselves and our life with God. What do we need to leave behind that has been an obstacle to our growth in Christ? What do we need to take on in the coming year if we are to grow more deeply into His image and likeness? How can we be more faithful to the grace God has for us in prayer, fasting, and regular worship and reception of Holy Communion? How can we be more faithful in the stewardship of our material resources?
I urge you to see this New Year beginning as a time to make some spiritual resolutions. I encourage you to re-commit to daily prayer and study of the Scriptures, to keeping the Fasts, and to be regular in attendance of the Divine Liturgy. I encourage you to examine your stewardship of the material gifts God has given you, to support the work of Christ in His Church.
Our spiritual growth does not happen automatically. Like everything in our lives, it requires discipline. God’s renewal of the world begins with our own renewal, as we pray, “Renew a right spirit within me.”