"Watering all the earth that it may be fruitful"
Father James W. Kordaris
A few months ago, a young married couple was driving across Oklahoma and part of Texas. For a good part of the drive, the couple frequently noticed a car on the same stretch of road with a bumper sticker that caught their attention. Each time they saw the car, their eyes went to that curious bumper sticker which read, "Orthodox Christianity: Preaching the Truth since AD 33."
Upon arriving home later that day, they sat down at the computer and began to search the Internet for Orthodox Christianity, a faith of which they had never heard until that bumper sticker caught their eye. The couple came across the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and began to read. They took down one of the numbers they found there and called to learn more about Orthodoxy and to find an Orthodox Church in their city. They were active Southern Baptists, but were very interested in this Church that claimed to be the ancient Christian Church established by Christ and the apostles. "Would we be welcome in the Orthodox Church?" they asked.
The story of this couple ends here. But what do you think happened next?
Did they attend the local Greek Orthodox Church for Sunday Divine Liturgy?
When they arrived, did someone welcome them to the Church and offer them a Sunday bulletin?
Were they greeted during the fellowship hour after Divine Liturgy?
We can create our own ending to this story, and we do create the ending to this story every Sunday, because every Sunday someone will walk through our doors who is searching.
In the early
Church, pagans became Christians, not because of what they read in the
Bible ? because the Bible did not exist in those early days.
Pagans became Christians because of what they experienced in the Christian community. And the same is true today. If people come to our church and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit and see that it has changed people, they will come back. The Church doesn't need to create a demand for religious experiences. People are already seeking to fill a spiritual need. We need to address the demand that already exists.
theme of many of the parish ministry materials being produced this year
by the Archdiocese is coordinated around the theme of "Bearing Fruit:
Witness & Service." Let's think about this.
Jesus told us that He is the vine and we are the branches. From this we understand that if we are to bear fruit, we must always stay connected to Him -- through worship, prayer and sacraments. We bear fruit by the Christian example we set in our daily lives.
Consider this question ? If you were the only Orthodox Christian someone met, would they want to know more about the Orthodox Church? Would seeing what your faith in Jesus has done in your life make people you know want to seek Jesus for themselves?
Any of you who have traveled to the Holy Land have probably gone on tours to the Dead Sea and also the Sea of Galilee. The water of the Dead Sea is all bottled up and stagnant. By comparison, the Sea of Galilee is crystal clear and full of life. Yet it is the same Jordan River that flows into both. The difference is that the Dead Sea has no outlet, while the Sea of Galilee does.
How much have you received in your life through your faith in God? What outlet for His love do you have in your life?
Jesus has directed us not to hide our light under a bushel. This light is the light of our faith. We are to let our light so shine before others that they will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
We are not told to knock on doors or to wave Bibles in the air on the street corner or in the subway. We are called to simply reflect the light of Christ to all those whom we meet in our daily life by the way we live.
Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory was a great believe in missionary activity in our own backyard ? also known as "home missions." In 1989, he wrote the following about the need for missionary activity, "Without mission the Church ceases to exist. Christians are required continually to reach out to others to share the Good News of our Lord."
It is not necessary to go to some faraway place to do missionary work.
There are millions of unchurched people right here where we live. In fact we all know someone who was raised in the Church who has fallen away. Did you know that the number one factor in bringing the unchurched back to church is a family member or friend who continually asks them to come?
Think about this and pray for some specific person in your life who has fallen away from the Church. Pray for them and invite them to come to church with you. Be a spiritual friend.
The couple driving across Oklahoma was moved by a bumper sticker to learn more about Orthodox Christianity. How will you share this great gift with which you have been blessed?
Jesus tells us, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (Jn 15:8).
Jim Kordaris received his BA-Psychology in 1979 and MBA-Finance in 1982
from the University of Minnesota. A graduate of Holy Cross Greek
Orthodox School of Theology, Fr. Jim has served several parishes in the
New York area. In January of 2003 he was appointed Director of the
newly formed Archdiocesan Department of Outreach & Evangelism.