Beloved in the Lord,

A New Ecclesiastical Year invites us, once again, to recommit and rededicate our lives as disciples of the Lord. The Gospel reading for September 1st included what the Lord Himself read at the beginning of His ministry. They are words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

We must confess that too many of us are "Sunday only Christians", let alone "Christmas and Easter Orthodox". Our discipleship to Christ is larger than how we spend our Sunday mornings. Indeed, we must participate in the life of our parish because there we gather as fellow Orthodox Christians for worship, fellowship, learning and service. The Church teaches us that we cannot be Christians alone; we must be part of a community of faith. And while participation in our parishes is essential, we cannot compartmentalize our Orthodoxy to Sunday. Discipleship entails living the liturgy after the liturgy, living our faith as Orthodox Christians in our homes and workplaces, and among our neighbors.

Living the liturgy after the liturgy can take many forms. The Lord has given us a blue print in His words. In summary, as I consider them, He is calling us to be agents of peace and justice, compassion and forgiveness, and healing and restoration in the world. There are many opportunities for us to be active as individuals, families, and parishes. Select one or two, focusing your time and energy on them.

One area that we can commit ourselves to is environmental protection and advocacy. As we know, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Spiritual Leader of World Orthodoxy, has tirelessly raised our consciousness about our responsibility for the natural world. In the recent Summit, Towards a Greener Attica he said, “The destruction of the natural environment can only be reversed through a radical change of our perspective towards nature that results from a radical change of our self-understanding as human beings. How ironic it is that we have never possessed so much knowledge about our world as today, and yet never before have we been more destructive toward one another and nature.

Our advocacy for the natural world begins by praying for it. I encourage every parish or groups of parishes to offer the Vespers for the Protection of the Environment. Then, take time to study the ecological needs of your community and get involved with them, restoring places that need restoration and working to keep them clean.

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, may this New Ecclesiastical Year affords you an opportunity so that each grow in our faithfulness to Christ and His Church along with active discipleship.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco