© 2012 Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church 1230 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06905 | Rev. Fr. Evan Evangelidis - Presiding Priest (203) 322-2093
Greek Orthodox Church
Father Evan's Pastoral Reflections
Dear Family and Friends of the Annunciation Church,
During this time of anxiety brought on by the Corona Virus pandemic, priests, pastors and church leaders have an important role in setting the appropriate tone for the churchís response and for keeping you the faithful spiritually engaged even though our church doors are temporarily closed to public worship. I as your priest and spiritual leader, along with your Parish Council, take seriously the facts of the situation at hand and are keeping the best interests of our church community in mind. Know that our response must be faithful, gracious and wise, trusting God in all things, remaining calm during this time of distress, extending compassion to those who are suffering, praying for the healing of those who are infected, and doing some creative thinking to keep you the members and faithful of our beloved Annunciation Church spiritually engaged, even while our doors are sadly closed for the foreseeable time.
We are working hard to allow our church services to become live streamed and broadcast over the internet and in good quality, so you can watch them virtually from the safety and comfort of your own home. We expect this to be up and running soon. Until this is done, please watch the virtual church services from Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York City at https://www.youtube.com/c/ArchdiocesanCathedraloftheHolyTrinity/live. We know you miss your beloved Annunciation Church community by not being able to do the most basic act of personal worship like lighting a candle, saying a prayer or having your prayer request met. So that we may more fully meet your spiritual needs, you are now able to light a virtual candle on our churchís website, to submit names of your loved ones to be commemorated by me in prayer and to make prayer requests. Your candles will be lit personally by me at the beginning of each service and your names and prayer requests read at the appropriate times during the divine services at this link: http://www.annunciationofstamford.org/misc/virtual-candle.php This is a beautiful way for us to live our faith responsibly and creatively. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity, which also supports your church community financially during these troubled times, because our doors are closed to the possibility of generating any income in the near future. Even though the church building is Godís house, itís walls do not contain our faith. Our hearts do. It is there within our hearts that our Lord Jesus Christ appears to us ďeven though the doors are shutĒ to tells us that He leaves and gives us His Peace not as the world does, but as He uniquely and only can so that our hearts will not be troubled or afraid, because He has overcome the troubles of this world (John 20:19, 14:27). And through the Christís Peace, we too shall overcome and have our faith transformed from sadness to joy, just like the disciples faith was on that first Easter morning.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that there is hope beyond this life and a glorious hope at that of something more, something greater than anything we can ever imagine. With so much suffering and discord dominating todayís headlines ó and even in our personal lives ó we may miss some of the good things happening around us. For example, the opportunity to spend more time with our family and to use social distancing as an opportunity to become more grounded and centered on the things that matter most. Yet every day, there are wonderful opportunities to see God at work in the world and to express our gratefulness for His protection and provision. The above quotation from the Book of Lamentations tells us that Godís love and mercy for us ďare new every morning.Ē Now if this isnít something to be grateful and thankful about during our time of need, then what is?
In Christís love,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Ē
ó Lamentations 3:22-23
Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
-- 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Dear Families and Friends of the Annunciation Church,
Ever since I was young, Iíve always been a great soccer fan. Although, Iíve never really been a great soccer player. Now that I look back, a big part of the problem was that I didnít trust myself. I was always overthinking things. Rather than just play the sport. I was anxious about failing and I think that made me play worse. If I had just used my God given talent to kick and pass the ball, instead of overthinking everything, I probably would have had more success and a lot more fun playing soccer.
Everyone is insecure about something. While we may project an outward confidence whenever possible, there some things in every personís life that cause anxiety on the inside. Something this anxiety comes from overthinking, worrying about failure, and from fear of the unknown Ė especially now when the Corona virus pandemic is affecting us personally, financially and socially. It is during times like these that we need to get back to basics more than ever. It is time we get back to prayer. Prayer is not only about asking God what we want, but more about enjoying the riches of a fellowship with God. This is what St. Paul is talking about in the above bible verse. By choosing to give thanks in all circumstances, God blesses us with what He gives us and with what we have escaped. Godís will is revealed in His Word. The only way you can know Godís will, and especially during these difficult times, is to know His Word. Therefore, get into the Bible and allow the Bible to get into you. The more we meditate upon Godís Word, the clearer His voice will be to us daily, as we commune with Him in prayer.
Paradoxically, one of the benefits of social distancing ourselves away from contagion is creating an atmosphere for prayer. The secret to prayer is secret prayer. Our public presence is a direct reflection of our private prayer life. If we spend time in the secret place for secret prayer, we will exude peace in the midst of lifeís storms. If we donít have a secret place for prayer and for tuning out life for a while so that we can more clearly tune into God, in times of distress we become poster children for anxiety rather than for Christianity. What Iím suggesting is that you first bite off a small piece and then get into the habit of prayer. Habit will produce commitment. Commitment will produce a character that will not be able to imagine a day without fellowship with God because that fellowship grows sweeter the more time you commune with Him.
If you donít eat on a regular basis you suffer the physical consequences. Similarly, if you donít pray on a regular basis you will suffer spiritual consequences. So, letís get back to the basis because that is where the real experience is. Letís get back to prayer.
In Christís Love,