The Destiny of the Church is Mission

The following address was delivered by Archbishop Demetrios to the graduates of Hellenic College Holy Cross on Saturday, May 21, and is presented here with slight editing.
The Destiny of the Church is Mission
San Francisco’s Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow”. Photo: http://synod.com/

We are in need of a very special kind of mission: an “internal mission.”

I’ll give you an example. If you notice what happens during Holy Week, especially during Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or on the night of the Resurrection, you will usually see large crowds of people in attendance.

There are churches on Palm Sunday that are necessitated have two liturgies to accommodate the influx of people. In New York, a few parishes have four liturgies on Palm Sunday, one in the main church and one in the community center next to the church simultaneously, followed by two more liturgies. In some instances, even a fifth liturgy is needed.

The question arises: Where are these people the rest of the year?

arch-DemetriosMy beloved people, mission must start at home. While it is good to work in Africa and in the Far East, we have to start here with the internal mission. We have to connect and bring all these people to our churches.

There is a very interesting statistic on the percentage of the population who go to church at least once a week. This statistic does not apply to Orthodox Christians only, but for all denominations and all religions.

In the geographic region of the Northeast, the population that goes to church once a week is 37 percent. In other words, about one third of the population goes once a week to the church. In the Midwest and the South, the number is around 65 percent. Two thirds of the population go to church at least once a week. Why such a difference?

Where are the young generation of graduates and prospective priests and clergy and Hellenic College graduates? This mission must be a collective effort by all, not just a matter for the priests and bishops. We must strive to have a very high percentage of church attendance.

This is our mission, to bring people to Christ. We have to help these people to share the beautiful treasures that we have, and then invite more people to share in these things.

Open the New Testament and read the parts of the Gospels and the Book of Acts that follow the Resurrection; they are only a few chapters. Read them and think of what the Lord is talking about.

These are his last words before the Ascension and are extremely important. What does He say? “As the Father sends me, so I send you” (John 20:21). We are sent by our Lord the same way Christ was sent by His Father. It is a very heavy theological and biblical statement.

We see in the Gospel of Mark, “Go into all the world” (Mark 16:15), and in the Book of Acts you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Look statistically at the number of words that deal with sending people out to take part in the mission of the Church. Christ on earth as the incarnate Son of God was on a mission.

The Church is in a constant state of mission.

So, on this occasion, I would like to renew this core thought to be the voice of Christ and do the action of Christ in a world that is in terrible need of action and His word.

We live in a world that is oversaturated with words; our means of communication facilitate that.

But this world needs Christ, the Word of God that saves, renews, gives hope, gives perspective, and gives a future.

 

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