Orthodox Observer - June 1998



By His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon

Beloved in the Lord:

In not many days, our Holy Archdiocese will convene the 34th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress. The past two years have seen a great deal of ferment and change in the life of our Church, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about the spirit that should prevail as we undertake our deliberations.

Change is never easy, and yet change may well be the most constant and consistent factor in all of our lives. One of the beauties of our Holy Orthodox Faith is that for two thousand years, that Faith has remained unchanging, intact, and immutable. Despite the currents of history, the rise and fall of empires and nations, countless persecutions and billions of individual lives ... the Faith remains the same. We owe this continuity not to ourselves, but to God Himself, for Jesus Christ is the Same yesterday, today and forever.

We also experience this continuity of Faith here in this great land of America, but not perhaps for the reasons we think. Even though we live in the most tolerant and free country on the face of the earth, complete with fundamental guarantees of religious liberty, the Faith is not dependent on these conditions for its purity and authentic character. We are neither the arbiters nor the guarantors of the Faith, rather it is the reverse. It is the purity, the sincerity, the genuine quality and simple character of our Faith that makes us authentic.

In the contemporary world, our individual lives move and change at an often harrowing pace. And it is not only each of us as individuals. Families, communities, churches, even the Archdiocese itself must adapt to changing conditions and circumstances. But the Faith never changes.

Our ability to accept change and to meet the challenges of tomorrow is ultimately dependent on the authenticity of our Faith, i.e., whether we truly believe or not. There will be times when we do not want any variation from the status quo; times when we perceive any type of transition as threatening to our established understanding of ourselves in this wonderful universe that God has created for us. It happens in our careers. It happens in our families. It happens in our communities. It even happens in our Church.

These are the times when people "dig in their heals," as the saying goes, and often resist change, if for no other reason than for the sake of resistance. Holding on to the past, like a security blanket, may not seem so reasonable, but we need to recognize that it is at least something worth holding on to.

And this is precisely where the miracle and mystery of Faith can come enliven our sense of challenge and allow us to accept transformation and change as part of God's plan for all of us. The we can let go of our need to be in control, and trust in God's providential love and His plan for us. Living in God's plan, we can treasure the past, seize the present, and reach out for the future. The we can value the precious gift of faith.

My beloved spiritual children, as we enter this 34th Clergy Laity Congress, let us hold fast the promise of God, that our Faith is secure in Him, and devote ourselves to how we can best serve that Faith, and increase it in our lives, our Church and in all the world.

[ Orthodox Observer - June 1998 - p. 10 ]