His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros

Homily at the Divine Liturgy

Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church

Seattle, Washington 

September 25, 2022

 

Your Eminence, my beloved Brother in Christ and Concelebrant in the Holy Spirit, Metropolitan Gerasimos,

Your Grace Bishop John and Reverend Clergy,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

 

Yesterday, we commenced our commemorations of the One Hundredth Anniversary of this beautiful Parish with prayer and feasting – the Great Vespers and the Banquet. But today, the arc comes full circle in the greatest prayer of the Church, and its most exquisite Banquet of Faith.

The Divine Liturgy is the final point in our arc of celebration for this Centennial Weekend. We come together as a community, and as more than what we can perceive with our senses. For in the Eucharist, when we ‘do this in remembrance of Him,’ we step into God’s time – His Kairos, the Eternal Now where all is present, and all is possible.

In every Liturgy, through the Offering of Bread and Wine, which become the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we represent the past, the present, and the future. We commemorate – both with words and deeds, all those who have come before us. The Saints and those called to be Saints.

On the Paten, when we behold the Amnos and all the particles of Sacred Bread arranged auspiciously, we behold the entirety of the Church throughout all time. Here, today, your one hundred years of love and service are represented. And indeed, all the two millennia of the Universal Church.

It is a profound and sobering thought – that we, through this Liturgy and through every Liturgy, embrace all of time and space, and offer it back to God in thanksgiving. Of course, that is what “Eucharist” means! An offering of gratitude, and in gratitude.

Our coming full circle today is not a close, but an opening – an opening to the vast and expansive love of God for all the world. Here, at Saint Demetrios, within these lovely walls dedicated and adorned in the tradition of our Orthodox Faith, we open ourselves to the possibility of loving all the world ,as God so loves the world.

My friends: this is not easy to do, much less, easy to understand. You hear how in the Gospel reading this morning, when the Lord challenged Peter:

“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Peter answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word, I will let down the nets.” *

This is the loving obedience of the Church to Her Lord: “At Your word.” We may not see the fruits. We may not perceive the possibilities. Clouds may hide both sun and moon.

But it is not our perceptions that determine the will of the Lord. It is our willingness to risk, to believe, to put our trust in His word. As Saint Peter said: “At Your word….”

My beloved Christians of this beloved Parish:

You are turning to the next hundred years.

You are letting down your nets for a catch that might even begin to sink your boats! As today’s Gospel says, when they obeyed the word of the Lord:

They enclosed a great school of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

Would that every endeavor of the Church be so! That we would be forced to call for others to come and help us minister to the throngs of seekers pouring into our Churches. Just as Peter and his partners – the brothers James and John – were loading up their boats to the point of sinking.

* * *

Your “Vision Statement,” of which I spoke yesterday evening, highlights your dedication to “Make Disciples.” This ingathering of souls for the Kingdom of God is just like Peter pulling up those nets full of fishes.

It is the work of being “fishers of men,” as the Lord says.

Therefore, as we partake of the Eucharist this day, let us receive the divine nourishment to strengthen us for the work of the ministry.

Let us embrace the next hundred years with faith in the foundation that has been established, and go forth in enthusiasm and optimism.

Let us be obedient to His word, and cast out our nets – nets that do not strangle or trap people, but nets of love and compassion, of forgiveness and mercy, that welcome souls into the Church.

Thus, beloved brothers and sisters, we will be true disciples of the Lord, and our Churches will be the fulness of His Body.

The arc of our love – commenced last evening and completed today, will be a heavenly rainbow of God’s peace, and we will know the truth of the Kingdom of God in our souls.

Amen.

 

* Luke 5:4-5.
† Luke 5:6-7.
‡ Mark 1:17.