A few years ago, I brought a small group of recently confirmed/baptized parishioners (and their families) to St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in NYC in order for them to see just how different an Orthodox Church, its priest and their worship is. Last Sunday evening, May 1 (which happened to be Orthodox Easter), I was saddened to see that a fire had started at St. Sava’s and very rapidly caused immense damage. This group of Serbian Christians now begins a new journey to find a place for worship and community and to try (if possible) to replace/substitute for the many liturgical, historical and cultural items now lost forever.
In the midst of such loss, I remind you all of our Church’s teaching that “Church” is NOT a building. St. John’s or St. Paul’s, and all that is contained within, as precious and historical it may seem, is ultimately the “work of human hands” and a place where we come together. But nothing is permanent and no “thing” is of ultimate value no matter how treasured.
Our being members of this parish is about a commitment to Jesus Christ lived within this community and in this liturgical and historic tradition which is called “Episcopal.” We the baptized are “the church” – not the stone or the wood or the vestments or the clergy or the “feelings” or the sermons or anything so transitory. We are Church when we gather together to pray with and for each other and then “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” What matters is our coming together and then departing from this “stuff” here to live the gospel in the world and be witnesses of our faith in Christ.