I hear every now and then, how can this small group of believers build a church? The task is enormous and the cost seems to be beyond our grasp. And now we can add the COVID-19 as another stumbling block or reason to question moving forward with this project. Has Fr. Gabriel lost his ever so limited connection with sanity?
Well, first of all, tithing is a spiritual discipline we all need to practice if we profess to be Christians. Simply put, if we don’t tithe now, why should God entrust us with more? I hear every now and then someone say that we just can’t afford to support the church as their bills are so high! This can mean that they have chosen to live beyond their means and not put God first, or they have truly been overwhelmed with unforeseen expenses! However, tithing is a necessary tool that we need to align our financial decisions with our spiritual growth. You can either choose to put your faith in God or in the paper dollar.
Secondly, you must know that our Father is very wealthy! We hear again and again these true words chanted: Everything that is, is His! (1 Corinthians 10:26) “For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” (Psalm 49/50:10-12) You see, money simply is not a problem. So I ask, is everything His?
As a group of believers living in this community for decades, it is frankly our duty. We must plant our roots here in this fertile soil. We must provide a proper space to worship God correctly. We desperately need a correct space for Worship, Communion, Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. We need a place to rear our children in the ways of God. We need a mighty fortress to weather the storms with a hedge around it to protect His fruit! (Mt 21:33) The church building is a sacred place where man can offer himself fully. The church building is the heart of Christian life and it is where God offers Himself to man and man offers himself to God. The buildings architecture reflects this truth and helps our deification process. St. Athanasius the Great says: “God became man so that man might become god.” “Let the Christian consider well when he enters the church that he is entering another heaven. That same majesty of God which is in heaven is also in his church, and on this account the Christian must enter with reverence and awe.”
So then how do you eat an elephant, one fundraiser at a time? Yes, we need projects and many willing hands, don’t expect others to do all the work! After all, we are instructed to tithe our valuable time as well! Don’t sit back and miss this opportunity, we need you! God is calling you and we need your talents! We need folks that can organize a fundraiser and include help from the church family, and include our neighbors. It will be a blessing for you and for them! This is a time of growth! This is a time to grow spiritually and grow deeper into the community by inviting our neighbors. As we remember: “Let all your things be done in love.” [1 Cor. 16:14]
Here the words of St. John Chrysostom: “The church is an enclosure, if you are within, the wolf cannot enter, but if you stray outside, the wild beasts will get you… Do not wander from the Church; there is nothing more impregnable than the Church. She is your hope and your salvation. She is higher than the heavens, firmer than rock, wider than the world; she never grows old, but is forever renewing her youth.” (St. John Chrysostom)
Next week, we will break ground! Glory to God! Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan is coming to break the ground and prepare it for spiritual fruit! There will be plenty of opportunities to help in the near future! But we need sweat-equity, don’t be lazy! We need a thousand small money-making projects. We need continuous prayers. We each need to attend to the body of our Lord, His people!
With faith, we will not only take a bite out of this elephant, but with thanksgiving we will keep on chewing until this beast is consumed, ears, tail and toenails! Through the prayers of the Holy Myrrhbearers, who sacrificed so they could attend to the body of our Lord, pray to God for us!