Dear Parish Family and Friends,

One of the interesting things about being a parent is noticing how our kids act and say things that we ourselves say. It seems to be more apparent when they scold each other. There are times when it sounds as if they are saying word for word the phrases that we use to correct them. The reality is that our children imitate us. They watch and they listen much more than we tend to realize. There is a similar issue when it comes to our spiritual lives. We are called to imitate as well. We are called to imitate our Father.

This is most important as we enter into another Lenten season. The last Sunday before Lent is called Forgiveness Sunday. The Church is reminding us that in order to get the most out of our Lenten journey we must begin’with this essential act and we do this by imitation. Father Thomas Hopko once wrote, “The Christian life is called the ‘imitation of God’ by the fathers of the Orthodox Church. . .The greatest possible ‘imitation of God’ is to be forgiving. God is the One who forgives. All of His love for man (philanthropia) is love for sinners…” Our Lord Himself says, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  Forgiveness is the essential act which brings about real unity. It is forgiveness that frees us from feeling hopeless. Forgiveness helps to unlock the potential which we have for unity and growth. “ The triumph of sin, the main sign of its rule over the world, is division, opposition, separation, and hatred. Therefore, the first break through this fortress of sin is forgiveness: the return to unity, solidarity, love. (Alexanader Schmemann)

My friends and my family in Christ, as you read the ECHO you will see the many blessings we have received as a community. You will read about the wonderful things our ministries are doing. As you read about these blessings remember that continued growth both as community and as individual Christians will happen as we continue to grow closer to God and one another. This unity occurs with our Lenten exercises of Forgiveness. Let us remember to be a forgiving community, a community which is founded on the imitation of God.

In Christ,

Father Larry