Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
It is important to remember that the reason St. Mary’s exists is to celebrate what God has done for us through our Lord Jesus Christ. We exist as a community for the propagation of Gratitude.
The heart of an Orthodox parish is the Eucharist, the Great Thanksgiving, and it is in this divine service that our gratitude is expressed in unison. The one reason the Divine Liturgy is celebrated is to give thanks for the gift of salvation that has been freely given to us. Freely, St. Paul insists, which means that all has been done, the gift is given, nothing is expected from us in return. God invites us to respond as we wish and our response, as a family of Christians, is thanksgiving. Christian life is a continuous thanksgiving.
Fr. Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic author and retreat leader, speaks of faith that understands this great, unmerited, unconditional gift of salvation.
“Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.”
The river of God’s immaculate love is flowing and through no merit of our own we are in it. There is no way to earn it, the gift is free. As we awaken to this truth we are overcome with joy, The Good News is simple. We have been saved. Joy is the mark of the Christian who has awakened to this magnificent truth.
It is a beautiful faith we have. Our thanksgiving-centered faith brings joy; it wipes away the stress of having to perform for God, of trusting in our works rather than in God’s mercy. Grace is ours because God has willed it and not only for us, but for all humankind. All there is left is for us is to embrace the gift for we are no longer under the law. We are swimming in Grace.