St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

November 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord, Christ is in our midst!

I am a voracious reader. You probably know that. My sermons are often speckled with quotes I glean from books because other people say things better than I could in a shorter amount of time and, frankly, I don't want to waste your time trying to say in paragraphs what Aristotle managed to say in a sentence.

I picked up Russell Brand's new book, REVOLUTION, because he fascinates me. He's funny and smart, not a little bit eccentric, and honest to a fault and I like that in people. In the book he quotes a friend of his by the name of Radanath Swami - a Hindu, I suppose with a name like that - and I like what he said. Here goes: "All desires are the inappropriate substitute for the desire to be at one with God." I like that too.

Of course, that is not the way we have been taught to think. We are told that fulfilling our desires will make us happy, so we must give our whole lives to the goal of making ourselves happy by getting all the things we want. The Great American Dream is built on that very thing. But it doesn't work and we know it very well because after a while our desires begin to reveal the unhappy secret about them: they are insatiable. There is not one thing we can buy, or win, or steal that has the power to fill the black hole of our desires.

God is different. The thing about the desire for God that is different from our desire for material things is that at its core is the truth that God is unlimited, so becoming one with him is a perpetual, eternal thing. You can never come to the end ofHim and He also never disappoints because the experience is always fresh and God is, after all, the very point of existence, its source, its sustenance and its fulfillment. Not like shoes that go out of fashion, get boring, wear out and start to lose their relevance like white shoes after Labor Day. God becomes more and more relevant, rich and beautiful as we enter into Him. God cannot become irrelevant, dull or out of date.

For me the Church is about making that real. So my goal, my hope is that together we are creating a loving and supportive community where we can all get a glimpse of what it means to be one with God. That's the point of Liturgy after all, the reason for its celebration.

It also means that all along the way, through the ups and downs and twists and turns, the community can be trusted to be there even when our individual experience gets messy, which it often does and we get ornery and hard to handle, which we sometimes do. No matter. The journey is the thing.

So, thank you Russell, for a provocative and important book and for introducing us to your friend.

Yours in Christ,

+Fr. Antony Hughes