Day Of Celebration For Creation
SERMON GIVEN ON 14TH SEPTEMBER 1997
(The Beginning of the Church and School Year and the Day of Celebration for Creation)
Today is a day of gratitude. We remember the creation of the world by God. And we can express to Him our own gratitude for the gift of life.
There are times when life is heavy on our shoulders, when there are fears in our hearts, confusion in our minds. But even on those days, if we had to choose between annihilation – not death, but total annihilation – or the struggle of life, we would choose to live. I remember the heartbreak of being the doctor of men and women who were coming out of concentration camps in Germany. For a year and a half I have seen people who were just surviving. Each of them had fought for one, two, three, four years to remain alive, because even life in the conditions of the concentration camp made sense to them: they wanted to live. Life was for living and they wanted to be alive in order not only one day to be free, but to be able on that tragic day of their imprisonment and martyrdom, on that day, to be alive and not dead.
And our lives are not so tragic. There are ups and downs, there is pain and joy, there is beauty and terror; but each of us is faced with life, and the call to be, and to outgrow all limitations, until the day comes when we will be united to Christ.
Remember the words of St. Paul, when he says: for me Christ is life, and death will be a door which will allow me to commune more perfectly than we can in this earthly life. Let us struggle for deep communion with God, for deep communion with life within us: and also struggle to share life with others in love, in compassion, in charity.
We keep also today the beginning of our school year. To teach children about God is not an effort to impart to them information. It is not a matter of letting them know facts of the Old or the New Testaments. It is an effort on the part of those of us who believe, for whom God is real, for whom He is the meaning of life, to convey to them what life is, what God is, what they are.
And I call upon all of you who have children to bring them to these lessons – not for them to learn what they could read in a book but in order to meet in the eyes, in the faith, in the voice and in the lives of real people, the fact that God has worked a miracle, brought them to life, to live because life is worth living.
And a last thing. This week Archbishop Anatoly kept the twenty-fifth anniversary of his consecration as a bishop, in which I was happy to take part in Russia. He is not among us today because he is at present in Moscow. But let us remember him. Also, today is the tenth anniversary of Father Alexander's ordination and the tenth anniversary of Patrick and Moussia Stephens' marriage. Let us sing 'Mnogaya Leta' for them all, that God's blessing will be upon them. Amen