Orthodox Mission – Hyde Park, Chicago

Short Exhortation

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Let us think how to develop a rule of prayer for our families. Bishop Paul has rightly talked about the need for families to develop a sense of how they are a Church. This time has been given to us to try to develop prayer within the home. Everyone should sit down and come to an agreement to pray in some coordinated way—maybe not all at the same time, but at some times together. We need to shape what can become shapeless days if we are stuck at home. If we are not and we are on some front line position and have to return to the home, we should also develop prayers to ask God to cover us and protect us by his power and grace so that we can enter the home safely and with peace.

Traditionally the Church has named, from the first century onward hours of prayer: starting with three and ending up with seven that we now have. We may not be able to do all of them, but should punctuate our days with prayers. We must not let time seize us! By the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the word by which the heavens and the earth were made, grasp time and sacrifice it in prayer! If you do this eternity enters in and floods us with light. In the midst of all the mess!  We see as the martyrs, the witnesses see, who sacrifice all their lives, the heavens opened and Christ the Son of Man coming on the right hand of Power. In some small way. Making the apocalypse less horror and more liturgy. Fewer monsters and more angels. In the midst of all, Christ sovereign over time, eternal.

He has seen, and in fact we have seen, too, all disasters. The Liturgy includes the sovereign view of all time and history. It is not troubled by each monster. Name it! God sees its end. Meanwhile He is enthroned and angels sing. We can hear it. The liturgy is our access and constant practice. But even if the building should disappear and we should all be locked up, the Liturgy is still going on. We are just poking our heads into eternal Liturgy when we celebrate here. Even if we cannot celebrate now openly in a place together, if we pray and love God and seek his peace and his eternal life and the victory over death, we can see it. The present small trial is a warning. Seek God! He is blessing and his hand is powerful. If we are not seeking a blessing we can be crushed by the weight of the blessing that he must give to all—especially when we are in the midst of folly and arrogance. We need God’s blessing, powerfully. So we have to be ready through prayer.

We will all be tempted by some despondency, some frustration, laziness. We will ask ourselves “What is the point?” Let us remember what the point is: God’s life and love known in difficulties, through difficulties, in the Cross that brings us the Resurrection.

So don’t just wait for the services to recommence before you pray. Don’t throw off the fast. Fast and pray and ask God to be merciful and show us his goodness, his love and power.

Fr. Elijah