Reflections on the Clergy-Laity 2016 Theme

Clergy-Laity Congress Theme Article - Part III

“You are the Voice of Christ in a Changing World”
As the Father has sent me, so I send you (John 20:21).  You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our reflections on the theme of the upcoming Clergy-Laity Congress have focused on our connection to the voice of Christ, how we know His voice, and the content of His voice—what is being said by Him and offered through us as we are called to be the voice of Christ in a changing world.  This article addresses the need for the voice of Christ in our contemporary world as well as the priority of offering His voice.

As our theme affirms, we live in a changing world.  It is a challenging and complex world due to change.  We experience this in our own lives as we go through each day, as we reflect on the past month and years and consider the course of our lives over time.  Due to multiple means of communication and “real time” information, we are presented constantly with events and moments of change from around the world.   All of this can be overwhelming, causing many to become insular and reject change or to feel lost while attempting to find meaning and purpose in the midst of change. 

The voice of Christ is needed in our changing world so that all can hear what is true and constant.  His guidance as our Creator and Redeemer is essential, as He understands our human condition and challenges.  His voice answers the questions of life and purpose and offers the grace to make that life complete.  The voice of Christ is the voice of blessings, fulfilled promises, and unwavering certainty for today and for eternity.  He says to us and through us, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

We have seen rapid change in technology and the tremendous impact this has had on our lives and societies.  In this constant change many advancements have been made that save lives, enhance education and access to information, show the power of human ingenuity, and improve the quality of life.  We also see and experience many challenges related to these changes:  cost and access to technology, environmental impacts, materialism, and the threats from abuse.  Many are asking how to navigate these constant changes in our world and make wise decisions.  Others question how to live when so many things seem beyond our control.

The voice of Christ is needed in addressing such rapid change, for His voice is the voice of wisdom.  His voice offers discernment in evaluating the benefits of technological change in relation to human life, purpose and well-being.   His voice guides us to look beyond convenience and wants to reflect carefully on the broader impact of change in our lives, our communities, and the entire world.  The voice of Christ answers the questions regarding what is good, what is true, what restores our relationships with God and each other, and what leads to salvation.  He says to us and through us, I am the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Our changing world is a physical world, and we are challenged to define value concerning material things and property.  Much attention is given to the power and status associated with wealth.  However, it is evident that this can change over time.  Possessions can be gained and lost as the world and circumstances change around us. 

The voice of Christ is needed to affirm that this is also a spiritual world, and that the truth and promises of the Kingdom of God do not change.  In this spiritual relationship with God, we know that we are called to be good stewards of all that He has created; and in being good stewards of the Gospel, we are called to use the physical elements of this world in love to meet the needs of others.  He says to us and through us, Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).

This world of change is also a world filled with threats and fear.  We see the impact of sin through violence and exploitation.  We see ideologies devoid of compassion and the tragedy of the victims of hate and oppression.  It is a world of insecurity.  Many are focused on self-preservation with no concern for the needs and struggles of others.

In the midst of this changing world the voice of Christ offers assurance.  This voice through us speaks of His promises, offering hope in crisis, comfort in tragedy, and strength in weakness.  His voice and presence assure us of the protection and grace of God even in the face of death.  When many are frightened in the violent storms of a changing world He says to us and through us, It is I; do not be afraid (John 6:20).

In conclusion it is essential to affirm that our changing world is a world of opportunity.  Certainly, it is a challenging, sometimes even a provocative and complex world.  The pace and manner of change is at times astounding; but it is a world of great need.  We are sent by Christ to be the light of the world.  We are called to be the voice of Christ, to speak of truth and love, to offer hope and salvation.  In a changing world His voice through us offers comfort, healing, restoration, and purpose.  Many are in great need, and we have the blessed opportunity to go and offer the voice of Christ so that through faith they will find life in Him.

As we prepare to gather in Nashville in a few months, I ask you to consider prayerfully our theme and to reflect on how you are offering the voice of Christ through your lives and your parishes.  In the final article of this series, we will focus on how this theme applies to our ministry as the Greek Orthodox Church in America so that we can with the help of God engage in productive dialog and planning at our Clergy-Laity Congress.

With paternal love in the Risen Christ, 

Archbishop of America