The Future of St. Peter’s
Our discussion after Liturgy two weeks ago about moving St. Peter’s to a permanent location went very well. I appreciated hearing everyone’s comments. I was especially encouraged, as I think we all were, hearing about how our small community affects the lives of each one of us. We come for the right reasons, particularly to seek Christ and in finding Him (a journey that never ends) find stability, meaning, direction, and purpose in our lives.
We have been meeting at the hotel for over three years. Yes, perhaps we have grown a bit too comfortable there, but I also think it may have been necessary to stay put for that amount of time. People make up a parish. And the health and vitality of a parish depends on the relationship that the parishioners have with each other.
It takes time to develop those relationships, and if the relationships are healthy, then the parish can prosper. There is no way to rush this process. It takes time just like it takes at least a season for a rose to bloom.
We are members of St. Peter’s to serve each other in anyway that we can — offer an encouraging word, offer emotional support, to make new friends, to worship with like-minded people, to help mitigate a crisis in another parishioner’s life, to model love and respect for our children, and so forth. My hope is that Sunday morning serves as a touchstone for the rest of the week and I think that very often it does.
Moving to a permanent location will require a commitment from each one of us. What that will be we don’t know yet but the Parish Council is busy crunching numbers, scouting locations, and all the things necessary to responsibly determine what the next step should be. When they have looked over everything we will call a meeting of the entire parish and present ideas and plans and take it from there.
I believe we are on our way to establishing a vibrant parish that will grow. St. Peter’s will have its own character and flavor just as all parishes do. Most encouraging to me was that everyone is open to people coming who desire to find Christ within our Orthodox faith and tradition. My hunch is that those people are waiting for us (they just don’t know yet that we are the ones they are waiting for) and that once we are established they will find us.
I think that we have a very bright future.
Every Child is a Gift from God
Nothing is closer to God than a child, and if we help a child by showing love, patience, proper instruction and so forth, God blesses us for it.
I learned this working with children from six years old to teens. I remember the friend of GOYAN coming to my youth group in Minneapolis years back. She was isolated, a little defiant, and hard to connect with. But she kept coming and we treated her well. She broke out of her shell, was chrismated Orthodox and is now the wife of a priest with three children.
Imagine what would have happened if we would have let our natural impatience or perhaps our resentment that our normal patterns and routines were disrupted rule our hearts? She would have left us thinking that we were no different than anyone else she had met. Instead, she found herself and it changed her young life and put it on the right track very early.
Children matter. In fact they matter a whole lot and not only because they are our future. They matter because their minds and hearts are naturally open to God.
Children are relational. You can talk all you want about theology and most won’t comprehend a word of what you are saying. If you tell them that God loves them while you show them your love however, they will see that God really does love them and it will shape their lives in the right way going forward.
Sometimes when a teen complains to me about their parents I ask, “Are you perfect?” “Well, no” they answer. “Then why are you expecting your parents to be perfect?” As an adult I’ve been required to change that around. “Am I perfect?” “Well, no.” “Then why am I asking this child to be perfect?”
In all things “love covers a multitude of sins” St. Paul tells us. If we approach our children with love, then we will learn when to exercise patience, when to instruct, when to say yes and when to say no in the right ways. The child will sense the love and that allows our words to be heard.
Bible Study Meets on Thursday, November 15, 2012
We will meet at the home of Jack and Angela Long at 204 Cheshire Way, Naples, FL 34110 (in the Audubon neighborhood, entrance on Vanderbilt Drive) — get map.
Spread the word and invite your friends!
Sunday Scripture Readings
Ephesians 2:14-22 (24th Sunday after Pentecost)
The Lord will give strength to his people.
Bring to the Lord, O sons of God, bring to the Lord honor and glory.
The Reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
BRETHREN, Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the diving wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Luke 12:16-21 (9th Sunday of Luke)
The Reading of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
The Lord spoke this parable: “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.'”
“But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” And when he said these things, he cried, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”