St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

October 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The beginning of happiness is to repent of the belief that God is not with us, that we and he are not always, inextricably connected. In his first sermon Jesus invites us to, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Among possible interpretations is this: to change our minds about the nature and geography of the kingdom. In essence the kingdom of God is wherever God is and God is by definition everywhere.

When we embrace these truths, a change of perspective takes place, a real change of mind, a metanoia -- a change of mind that can set us free from fear, from loneliness, from despair. We begin to see the world in a very different way, as the place of God.

If we contemplate the world as a fearful and dark place, then ofcourse it will appear that way. That is why St. Paul encourages us to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" and explains what this means writing, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience," and keep our minds on things "that are noble...right. .. pure... lovely...admirable...anything excellent or praiseworthy."

By having faith in the omnipresence of the All-Compassionate One, our minds are set free from crippling fear and our lives are transformed. Our senses are clarified, our eyes and ears opened and so, when Jesus says to his disciples, "Do not be afraid," we can accept that His words are meant also for us. Freedom from fear is an essential element of a happy life and exactly what God wants for us.

To be free from fear is the mark of faith. We are not afraid if we have faith that everything that life brings to us, the ups and the downs, the victories and tragedies, all happen in God since there is no place he is not. We live and breathe and move in an ocean of Grace which is God himself, so there is nothing to fear, not even death.

Faith is letting go of the need to be in control and the desire for security in this life in which there can be no lasting security. Instead we rely on the gracious goodness of God and keep our minds on the kingdom present here and now.

Alan Watts, compares faith to floating in water. If we grasp and cling to the water, then we will sink. If we relax, then we will float. Free from fear we are able to experience abundant life in Christ.

Yours in Christ,

+Fr. Antony