+Fr. Leo Gavrilos, St. Spyridon - Sheboygan, WI | May 12, 2020
Dear Family of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago,
XRISTOS ANESTI!!! CHRIST IS RISEN!!! TRULY HE HAS RISEN!!!
"It is the day of Resurrection! Oh people, let us glory in splendor! PASCHA, the Lord’s PASCHA! For Christ our God has transplanted us who sing the triumphal hymn from death to life, and from earth to Heaven”.
“Though the present pandemic crisis has taken us away from the churches and the services that we so dearly love, it cannot rob us of the true joy of the Resurrection – the knowledge that God’s love is stronger than death, and that Jesus Christ shares His victory with us all.” (From Metropolitan Nathanael’s PASCHA MESSAGE)
We have all suffered a loss these past months because of this evil that has infected not only our church, but the entire world, killing hundreds of thousands of good people. It has taken many in our Chicago Metropolis. We pray that God will give all those taken eternal rest, and that he gives their surviving loved one’s comfort and peace.
BUT!!! Do not fear this virus, pandemic, whatever, and do not fear the future. Never fear the future, embrace it, welcome it. And you ask why? I believe I read in one of the Psalms, and I quote: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake. Yea, I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me!!!” AMEN!!
Do not fear the future! God has not left us. As some might think, God is not punishing us. He is here beside us all the way. He has shown us the Light of His Resurrected Son, who did not come to inflict us with pandemics. He came to save us. He did not suffer on the cross to make us pay. He was born as a Man, lived as a Man, He died as a Man and rose from the dead so that we could live with Him in Paradise.
Thru our faith in Him, with the hope and love that he gives us, we will not go quietly into the night. We will never give up. Several years ago, song writer Frank Stallone wrote the theme song for brother Sylvester Stallone’s move ROCKY. Now, I am not suggesting that we all put on a pair of boxing gloves and look for someone to duke it out with. Along with our love, hope and faith in our Lord, the lyrics of that song should give us courage, hope and strength. I quote: “It’s the thrill of the fight rising up to the challenge of our rival. Rising up, straight to the top. We went the distance, and we are not going to stop, just a man and his will to survive. It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival.”
Right now, in these difficult times our rival is this virus. In times like this, if we truly believe in our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, we will have the eye of the tiger, and with our Risen Lord at our side we will defeat this thing. Embrace the future with “the eye of the tiger”. We will not go quietly into the night. We will never give up! With Jesus Christ at our side we will win.
Our prayers go out to those doctors, nurses, health care workers, police, fire and first responders, those delivery people who put their health on the line for us. God Bless them and their families.
I will close with the confidence and the courage that we will all be together in our respective churches to shout: “XRISTOS ANESTI!!! CHRIST IS RISEN!!! TRULY HE HAS RISEN!!! Be safe, be well, stay healthy, and: “God bless us, everyone!!!” AMEN