As we enter the month of September, we commence an annual cycle of activity filled with much excitement and opportunity. For students, the month of September arrives after long anticipation, bringing a healthy resolve to begin another academic year with renewed focus and determination. For those at work, September comes at a time when our summer vacations come to a close, allowing us to return to our workplaces refreshed and revitalized. The lively activity of the month of September speaks to an important dimension of life that merits deeper reflection, namely, the characteristic of labor.

As persons created in the image and likeness of God, our human identity is predicated upon notions of labor and service. Remembering God’s instructions to Adam in the Garden of Eden “to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15), the important facet of labor has shaped both individual and communal life since the dawn of history. Viewed through the lens of Holy Scripture, specifically in our duties to be stewards of our natural environment and to be in perpetual service to others, labor is as much a theological notion as it is a political or economic one, touching upon facets of human life that call us to consider more closely our interpersonal relationships with others from all walks of life.

As Greek Orthodox Christians living in America, it is difficult to imagine where we would be as communities without the diligent labor of our forefathers and mothers, many of whom immigrated to America from Greece. For well over a century, their selfless toil and dedication has strengthened our communities, resulting in high levels of growth for our parishes in terms of infrastructure, expanded facilities for education, and improved resources for ministry. Today, as a result of the collective and continued labor of our clergy and laity from diverse backgrounds, our communities stand poised at a critical point for expansion in even newer directions that we are only beginning to experience.

Indeed, labor comes in many forms, and the house of labor has many rooms. We are thankful for all those who have worked and toiled to improve our quality of life in our beloved nation and for our holy Church. As we return to our labor this month of September, I pray that the blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was raised in the household of a carpenter and who chose fishermen to announce the message of His Gospel to the world, may give continued strength and renewal to you and your families. May His grace keep you and may it guide our communities in peace and prosperity throughout this new ecclesiastical year.

+DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America