All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (Hamilton, ON, Canada)

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November - December 2006

AND THEY'LL KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE
by Rebecca Redmile

We all know the parable of the sheep and the goats ... we hear it every Lent. But how does this parable transfer into our everyday lives? What if we don't have a calling to prison ministry or working in a soup kitchen? How do we show our love as Christians? The Church exists above all to be the ship which will pilot us to the harbour of Salvation at the end of our life, God willing. It is the ship in which we achieve our Salvation here, on this Earth.

We often look at Sunday morning church services as our opportunity to be fed spiritually - our one chance to relax, rest in the bosom of Abraham as it were. The problem is, it is the one most significant opportunity in our week when we have the opportunity to minister to our brothers and sisters in Christ and this often involves reaching beyond ourselves: forcing ourselves to go beyond our own comfort zone, because the Kingdom of God is taken by force. In our midst, we have several very obvious and almost cliché occasions to minister to our own.

Whatever our responsibilities, we need always to be seeking to stretch our spiritual muscles in an environment which is supposed to cultivate an icon of love. New people who look bewildered or have no one to talk to at coffee; someone who is physically unwell and could use a chair which someone may have to fetch; a mother may have her hands full with a demanding child and be cumbered about with much serving; a blind woman may be trying to make her way to venerate the Cross uncertainly; a man in a wheelchair may appreciate a hand other than that of his relatives.

As Canadians, we naturally do not wish to intrude, especially if our help may be politely declined, but the alternative is an environment that looks startlingly the same as the world. Let us eagerly overcome ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven; and keep transforming our little church community into a brighter and more radiant risa, for the icon of Christ, which is His Church.

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