Peter Drucker, the well-known management expert was told of a museum that surveyed its visitors one day to find out why they had come to the museum. The greatest percentage responded that they came into the museum because it was raining outside. The second most frequent response was that they came into use the restroom.
Drucker responded to this story with a question: “How many of these people came back?”
Today our parish is hosting Family Outreach Sunday. Many of you are here because someone invited you, cajoled you, guilted you, or in some way persuaded you to be here. It is likely that you were baptized in this or another Orthodox Church, attended Sunday school, Greek School, and GOYA.
You may have been in the Greek Dance Troupe or played on the basketball team.
But then something changed. You went away to college, or got a job, or just got busy and slowly drifted away from the Church. Few people wake up one day and decide to leave the Church. Most just slowly drift away, always intending to come back – someday.
We are glad you are here. We have missed you. It is a blessing to be together in worship and we invite you to join us in the church hall for fellowship & refreshments, to renew old friendships, maybe establish new friendships and reconnect to the church community. We hope you will come back – often.
As Paul writes to the Corinthians (1Cor 12), “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body….” You are part of this body of Christ. Without you, we are incomplete.
The mother of a large family of children was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter. The reporter asked her the difficult question, “Which one of your children do you love the most?”
Her reply showed what a wise and loving mother she was. She told the reporter, “I love the one who is away until he returns home; the one who is sick until he is well; the one who is hurt until the hurt disappears;
and the one who is lost until he is found.”
This is how God feels about us. He has missed you too.
When we were baptized, God planted His light within our hearts, so that we may shine for Him in this world. In the writings of the Church fathers we read, “When we are baptized, our soul, purified by the Spirit, becomes brighter than the sun;”
Our baptism was not the ending but the beginning of our growth in faith in Jesus Christ. Our calling as Orthodox Christians is to strive toward the example of Christ. He is our great example.
One of the prayers of the Sacrament of Baptism prays that God “…be pleased to shine forever in our heart the illumination of His countenance….”
God truly lives within our heart ---- though He waits for us to call on Him. Sometimes in our lives we get away from Him and we are not even aware of His presence. But when we fall or when we suffer pain or loss, He is there for us when we call on His power.
God took the first step at our baptism as an expression of His love. Passively we received Him. But there is nothing automatic about becoming Christian. It has been said that “It is not mere belonging to the Church that saves, for there is no magic in Christianity, but we are saved by our personal acceptance of the Spirit of Christ.”
Each of us is born with a God-shaped vacuum in our heart. But this vacuum is in constant danger of being filled with the wrong things – love for money, our job, alcohol & drugs, and more. But God is what belongs there. In Revelations chapter three, Christ says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
It is my prayer that you will hear His voice and open that door, and that you will say to Him, “I commit my life to You. I now, from this day forward, place You at the center of my life, to be my guide and my perfect example. Show me the plan You have for me. Use me in whatever way You see fit. And in all things, I take no glory for myself, but give all the glory to You.”