WHAT A WEEKEND! This past weekend – during which we celebrated the opening of St. Timothy & St. Athanasius church – was all that I thought it would be and then more…WAY MORE!
Words can’t describe the emotions and the spirit of the day. It was really one of those “you had to be there” moments and everyone who was there – especially the awesome team of volunteers who worked so hard before and after the event – felt the same thing I did: an overwhelming sense of amazement! Afterwards, we couldn’t stop saying “WOW!” We all truly felt that God Himself descended upon Arlington/DC and from here on out, the city will never be the same. For the sake of the many out there who weren’t able to be there but want to know how the weekend went, I am going to summarize my speech from Saturday.
The entire day was recorded and eventually we’ll put pictures and video clips on our website, but until then, you can at least get a taste of what STSA is all about and why I say that the area will never be the same again.
Below is Part 1 (you’ll see Part 2 tomorrow).
Those who know me know that it isn’t very often that I am too excited to speak. But today is one of those days. Today is a day that has been long awaited for many years. Why? Because today is more than the start of a new church. New churches start all the time, but today is much more. Today is the beginning of a tidal wave! A tidal wave that will land upon Arlington/DC and I truly believe the city will never be the same again.
This tidal wave – known as St. Timothy & St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox church – is being built upon three fundamental building blocks: Extreme Love, Ancient Faith, & Real Community.
The first building block is EXTREME LOVE – which refers to the extreme love of God towards every one of us. This is the foundation upon which everything is built. “We love Him because He first loved us” declares the evangelist St. John. There is no church and there is no eternity and there is no hope without the extreme love of God. And the starting point of STSA is that we seek to experience that love in a very personal and intimate way and then we hope to reflect that love onto others so they may know it and taste it as well.
We will not measure success by the number of people in our pews or the number of people that we baptize. In God’s eyes (which by the way are the only eyes that really matter), success is not based on results as much as it is on process. The process of scattering seeds of love – everyday, everywhere and to everyone – is ultimately what gives us success in the eyes of our Maker. So first and foremost, we want to taste that extreme love of God and reflect it to others as often as we can.
The second building block of STSA is ANCIENT FAITH. Once we taste of God’s extreme love, He desires to lead us into a deeper relationship with Him and deeper knowledge of Him. That depth of knowledge is given to us through The Church – which is the Living Body of Christ. Through the life and teachings of The Church, we are led to a deeper state of knowing God and experiencing Him personally.
Think about it this way. Imagine there is a young woman who has fallen in love with a man. He is everything that she ever wanted in a man and she loves him so much. He too loves her more than anything in the world and has told her that repeatedly. Now what? Is that enough? Is there a logical next step here? Or is it sufficient to remain like this?
Of course not! Her love for him will never be satisfied at this level – just knowing he loves her and that she loves him. The innate desire of every man and woman is to take that love to the next level – a level of intimacy and depth and true knowledge. That next level comes from joining together in marriage – a committed relationship which allows the two lovebirds to take the next step in terms of their love for one another.
That next step for every one of us is the The Church. God’s extreme love can not be satisfied outside of a committed relationship with His Body, The Church. Again, I am not speaking about “a church”. I am speaking The Church – the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Orthodox church of God which was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself during His time on earth.
I believe that The Church is alive today. I believe that with all my heart. I believe that the picture painted for us in Scripture about what The Church should look like applies to me/us just as much as they did to the Apostles 2000 years ago. Our goal at STSA is that together we would journey to discover The Church and what God expects of us in it.
Extreme Love. Ancient Faith. Tomorrow I’ll post the second half of the speech which focused on the third component, Real Community. Till then check out some pictures from this weekend's launch day.
Discussion: What are your thoughts about the first two building blocks of Extreme Love and Ancient Faith?