His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
Greetings to the Clergy Laity Assembly and Philoptochos Convention & the Northern New Jersey Honoree Grand Banquet
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey
May 15, 2023
The Venetian – Garfield, New Jersey
Your Grace, Bishop Apostolos of Medeia,
Honorable Dimitrios Papageorgiou, Consul of Greece
Honorable Michalis Firillas, Consul General of Cyprus,
Archimandrite Christoforos Oikonomidis, Chancellor,
Archon H. James Polos, our Master of Ceremonies,
Mr. Peter Arbes, Vice-President of the Metropolis Council
And Esteemed members of the Council,
Mrs. Eleni Constantinidis, President of the Metropolis Philoptochos
Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Honored Members of Leadership 100,
Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers,
Dear Sisters of the Metropolis Philoptochos,
Esteemed Delegates to the Clergy Laity Assembly,
Tonight’s Honorees, families and guests,
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is Risen!
Tonight we come together as one Metropolis – fifty two parishes and two hundred and fifty delegates from the communities and the Philoptochos chapters. We assemble in this festive meal to celebrate a successful Clergy laity Assembly and Philoptochos Convention, and to recognize those who minister in this Metropolis and the surrounding community with the spirit of love and service.
As your Archbishop and the Patriarchal Vicar of this God-saved Metropolis of New Jersey, it always gives me paternal pride and satisfaction to witness your dedication and devotion as faithful stewards of the Church. Truly, this Metropolis is blessed with prudent and wise οἰκονόμοι, who give of yourselves in order to be of benefit to all. The diversity of gifts that we recognize tonight exemplify the extraordinary service and ministry that exist within our Church communities. We are blessed with so many Stewards, Philoptochos and Parish Council Officers and Members, Greek Education Teachers and Administrators, Choir Members and Chanters, Youth Workers and Catechists. The sheer magnitude and range of activities calls to mind the words of the Apostle yet again:
For just as in our individual bodies we have many limbs – and all the limbs do not have the same function, so also are we, who are many persons, One Body in Christ, and each one members of each other. And our diverse spiritual gifts are owing to the grace that is bestowed on us…. *
Indeed, my beloved Christians, grace has been bestowed upon all of us, for the purpose of service. We were not born into this world to merely live, acquire, and then expire. We were born to give to others, to enhance the lives of others, as the altruistic, compassionate, and loving People of God. That is why our gathering this evening is so important. We are taking time to recognize our own community, and to acknowledge that grace is given to each of us to make a difference. Whether you are being personally honored or not, we are all responsible to exercise God’s grace in the world. Each of us has a special contribution to make, which will slowly, but surely, transform the world into a better place.
You may have heard of this theory called, “the butterfly effect.” Simply stated, it says that the slightest action in the world can have an infinitely great consequence. And we know that this is true in our own lives. When you’re having a bad day, and a perfect stranger smiles at you, or holds a door for you, or someone simply and pleasantly says, “Good morning.” It is often the smallest, infinitesimal acts of kindness – actions based in grace – that have the most impact on us, because they re-frame our mindset toward goodness. We then can offer that same grace to others, without feeling that we are losing or being deprived of anything. It is truly amazing what can happen in our relationships, when generosity and friendliness are practiced. It is then, as the Scripture says, that we know what it means to be more blesséd to give, rather than receive.†
Therefore, beloved Sisters and Brothers in the Risen Christ:
Let us celebrate our Holy Metropolis of New Jersey, and this evening’s recognitions by more than our applause and our encouraging words for one another. Let us each make a commitment to finding opportunities for grace every day. Allow your every heartbeat to remind you that the smallest acts of courage and kindness, are the ones that transform this world into the Kingdom of God.
The Metropolis of New Jersey is alive and well! Our spirits are intact, and our faith is strong!
Thank you, and may the Good Lord bless you all!
* Romans 12:4-6.
† Cf. Acts 20:35.