Syosset, New York
To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America
The beginning of the ecclesiastical year offers us the opportunity to reflect on the place of worship within our parish communities. It is the cycle of worship that provides the content of the ecclesiastical year. It is this content which compels us, the clergy and laity, to examine what it is that makes true worship the core of Christian, and therefore evangelical, life.
By entering the ecclesiastical year we discover—perhaps for the first time—the mercy and love of God revealed in the celebrations which open to us the great acts of salvation. In these celebrations, culminating in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the body of Christians is made into the body of Christ. In these celebrations, the Kingdom of God is being proclaimed and revealed. With the proclamation of the Gospel we are given the opportunity to receive the living Word of God which renews and illumines those seeking “to run the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). By embracing this Word we are invited to draw near and receive from the table of the Kingdom the bread of immortality.
The ecclesiastical year has the potential—indeed the power—to establish ourselves within the saving acts of God. But this potential can only be realized, can only impact our lives, if we commit ourselves to a life that yearns to know and share the Word of God. This is why we gather corporately as the Church. This is why the services of the Church cannot be ends in themselves, but the context from which the ministry of Christ, manifested by the faithful, permeates and transfigures the world.
Beloved in the Lord, a great and awesome gift has been entrusted to us. By entering the ecclesiastical year we are given the opportunity to proclaim in word and deed the Gospel of new and eternal life. Let us draw near “in faith and love” and enter with great joy into the mystery of the liturgical life of our Church. And let us proclaim to the world the saving acts of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
With love in the Christ,
Archbishop of Washington,
Metropolitan of All America and Canada