The Vision of Ministry and Service
What is the Vision of The Ministry of Our Church As We Enter the Beginning of The New Year of 2006.
As we find ourselves in the new millennium and with the coming of
year 2006, the Church, and this branch of the Church: The
Orthodox Catholic Church wishes to lift high a banner of
commitment to the Actual, Absolute and Real Presence of our Lord Jesus
within the Holy Eucharist. Also that God truly dwells in our midst and
our Apostolic Catholic faith is even more necessary NOW, then it was in
early days of the Church.
The Church must teach its faithful about the deeply held spiritual
depth of prayer. Not just corporate prayer, but deeply held inner
prayer, the prayer that comes and dwells within us from us. It is
indeed unceasing prayer.
The Church must always strive to renew itself, as the church has always done, in the fullness of Jesus Christ our Lord. It must constantly and consistently look to the core of its worship: The Divine and Holy Eucharistic Liturgy for its strength, vitality, reason for being and platform for spreading the Kingdom and Gospel message of our Lord here upon earth. The Church must present itself as living and laboring in the present - making decisions, now, that will motivate and encourage surrender and acceptance to: the inner peace and obedience of and to God our Heavenly father. Especially with reference to His Holy Word and Holy Sacraments.
The Church must help to foster, and grow His Love, more understanding, more fellowship and friendship with mutual sharing at all levels within the Church. The Church must reach out to the people to whom God has called, and address the circumstances and problems of those it is called to minister to. The Church must bring them through love and not condemnation, through forgiveness and not through fear and in a prayerful way, a mystical way, a Sacramental way to our Lord, Savior and God Jesus Christ.
The people in our society, in our culture, and indeed our world are searching as perhaps never before, for the meaning of their lives, spiritually, mystically and yes, even physically. The Church must be present in the midst of their search, and address their needs, their concerns, their fears, their doubts, their joy and yes, also share in their sorrow, pain and loneliness. And Church must always point them toward the healing and renewal of their very lives, spirit, soul and body - to our Lord Jesus Christ within the context of His Church. The Church must bring the Light of our Lord Jesus Christ to bear in an ever increasing world of war and rumors of war, famine, disease, hunger, hatred, bigotry, acts of terror on a world scale and chaos.
It must take an active role in helping to heal the blight of guilt and shame that dysfunctionally infects, effects and affects within our families, our society, our culture, our country and thereby also our world. The Church must reposition itself as it moves forward in this new millennium, in this changing environment, to speak effectively to the absolute "Presence" of God in its teachings, its preaching, its outreach and in its worship, and deeply in its Sacramental life and prayer life. It must seek to help and not to blame, to heal and not make sick, to renew and not destroy, to Baptize, to Chrismate/Confirm. It must work to deepen the spiritual lives of the faithful within the Church, enabling them to grow and to to fulfill the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ when He said: "Feed my sheep."
The Church must bring the people to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom through love and not fear, and this must be done in equality, in justice and in truth. It must present the Gospel and Sacramental message of our Lord Jesus Christ in positive and life giving messages aimed at calling people into the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and into His Church.
The Church needs to demonstrate that its Holy Sacraments are there for the healing and salvation of the men, women and children of the world. A world often seemly gone mad with negative and destructive violence, hurtful and painful suffering and a society where people are turning to drugs, alcohol and other dysfunctional ways of living, seeking to obtain for themselves some kind of peace of mind if only momentary in nature, and fleeting at best.
This vision that is consistently and constantly being shown to the Church is indeed a process. As Orthodox Catholic Christians, both clergy and as committed members of the congregations, it must start with each individual, each and every one of us personally. It involves a commitment to renewal, to forgiveness, to both the giving and the receiving of the Love of God. It involves the commitment of all to seek first the Kingdom of God in all aspects of our living, prayer and worship. Not when it is just convenient, not just when we have time or can fit it in, and most certainly not to wait until all else has failed in our lives.
What is the "vision" of which we speak? It is this:
"It is renewal of the awareness in every aspect of our lives that our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in our midst and that indeed the Kingdom of God dwells within us and that our very life is renewed within The Holy Eucharistic Liturgy. Strengthened with an understanding of God's Holy Scriptures and how they apply to our daily lives."Within this vision of ministry and commitment, we must come to realize that the Holy Sacraments / Holy Mysteries are our very breath of life. Our participation in them, assures our strength, healing and our salvation, and is our witness to those who have gone before us, who have given their very lives and blood - to keep alive, well and safe, the awareness of the literal Presence of God dwelling among us, most literally in our midst. That we are indeed the body of Christ Jesus our Lord, that we / all of us, are His Hands, His voice, His tenderness, His gentleness, His compassion, His Healing and HIS Church. It must be our vision now, not in the past, and not just for tomorrow, but now.
The Church must be vocal in the process of self definition. It must focus on its Sacramental life, especially within the Holy Eucharist. It must be that vehicle which reaches out to the faithful and teaches the deep richness of prayer, inner prayer of the heart and spirit, indeed unceasing prayer. It is that strongly focused vision of the present needs of the faithful, that will become our future and has to be the first step toward a strong, living and vibrant ministry built around disciplined self-control and self-determination to speak to the message which has been given by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a call to each and every person that God indeed loves them, cares for them and desires that they turn to God for their strength, their very life and the guidance each and every Christian needs via the Most Holy Spirit of our God - in showing and demonstrating the very plan that God has for each of us in this life.
What must the Church define and present as the New Millennium unfolds? It is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is, has been, and will always BE the head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23). It is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who is our Great High Priest and the Chief Bishop of the Church. Yes it is He that is the eternal High Priest of the Church (Hebrews 7:23-25). It is the vision that Jesus as our High Priest and is PRESENT in His Church, in its midst, both now and always. That He is has never been absent and that He will dwell with us until the very end.
Finally, the truth and the unity of our Lord Jesus Christ's one Church must ring within our teaching and preaching of the Message of the Gospels. Its refrain is to be found in Ephesians 4:3-6.
"Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of PEACE. [There is] One Body and one Spirit - just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received. [There is] one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, One God and Father of [us] all, Who is above all [Sovereign over all], pervading all and [living] in [us] all." **(Taken from the New Amplified Bible)One cannot help but remember the wonderful and inspiring words of: Saint Gregory the Theologian to the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council:
"And there are those who reproach us for our poverty and are proud of their wealth? They consider great numbers of people to be a sign of the Church and despise the small flocks. They measure the Divinity and they weigh (judge) people. They place a high value on grains of sand (that is, the masses of people) and belittle the luminaries."The Church is not limited by place, for it embraces in itself all people who believe in the Orthodox Catholic Christian way and path.
Will you join us in that "vision" we have come to love and to serve
these end times within our world? Our Father in Heaven prays so,
Lord Jesus Christ awaits you, and the Most Holy Spirit of God calls
and I and all of us into His Church and His Kingdom.
May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you strong in His Faith (Hebrews 11:1) - renew you in your surrender to His Calling in your life to worship and serve Him with all of your heart, mind and soul. May He shower you with His Peace and keep you ever alive in His Sacramental Presence and at one with Him in your Prayers. And may the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ become the most real experience in and of - your life. This is my prayer for each and everyone of you. In the name of the Father (+) and of the Son (+) and of the Most Holy and All Life-giving Holy Spirit of our God. AMEN.
+Most Reverend Perry R. (Joseph Benedict OSB/bcsa) Sills, O.C.,
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