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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Communion

After several months of visiting with the Agape community of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church in Liberty, Tennessee, my wife, Cynthia, and I gave confession and partook of the Holy Eucharist, making Holy Annunciation our home parish, Father Gregory Williams our priest, and Bishop Agafangel, our Bishop.

A renown Roman Catholic politician once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."  Of course, he borrowed that concept from our Lord,

"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

"Ask not what your church can do for you but ask what you can do for your church."

We are overjoyed, not only to be a part of a faithful communion of believers, but that we are able to serve to promote the Kingdom of God and the salvation of men's souls. Sometimes this takes the form of changing a door handle or fixing a cabinet door. Sometimes it is chanting with others or being the lone chanter because heavy snowfall has kept the faithful away. In either case, I never feel much like a servant. Whenever I start to think in those terms I look at those martyrs of the faith and even those still living, such as Father Gregory and Matusha Anastasia who have faithfully served the community for 30 plus years. As I walk on the 400 acre property, nestle in the hills of Tennessee, I cannot help but feel the presence of the myriads of faithful servants who have walked there.

I will always feel like a babe in Christ, never having fully attained, with the constant need of forgiveness. Father Gregory has reminded me, several times, not to put him on a pedestal. Perhaps he knows his own frame too well, that all of us are but dust, and that "he who endures to the end will be saved." Perhaps this is why he can lean his head against mine in Holy Confession and join with me in my tears of sorrow and my joy of repentance. Perhaps that is why he can so quickly say, at the end of the Sacrament of Confession, "Now, pray for me a sinner." Perhaps that is why the communion at Holy Annunciation is so sweet. They have remembered that Christ is not just the Lion of the Tribe of Judah but He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He offers us His cup of savation, His body and blood... and I am included. 

4 comments:

  1. I'm pleased that you have found somewhere to call your own. I order things from Father Gregory from time to time and appreciate his work immensely.

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  2. Michael, I got the grand tour of Saint John of Kronstadt Bookstore recently. What a unique and valuable role Father Gregory plays in the life of the Orthodox Church. He labors for hours/years to preserve texts that are threatened to dissapear. Can any good thing come from the hills of Tennessee? Apparently, yes!

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  3. Anonymous2:39 PM

    May God now finally grant you the gift of stability.

    Konstantin

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  4. Konstantin, A cryptic note or lost in translation? In any case, I will thank you.

    ReplyDelete

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