Dearest Beloved Fathers, Brethren and Sisters in the Diocese,
Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!
As you know, we have postponed our 45th Annual Diocesan Convention on July 17, 18 & 19, 2020, for the same time and Host next year (2021) in the city of Indianapolis, IN.
Can the pandemic lockdown separate us from one another? Only for these three days? What about for ever and aye? Are we united together once and for all?
As your Diocesan Vladyka, I would like to share with you my inner conviction that as we struggle during this pandemic and postponement of our Annual Diocesan Convention, it is good to remember that we are all united as one. We find our place of silence, sequestered in our homes and apartments, but in our aloneness, we encounter God. Even in our isolation from one another.
As we suffer separation from the communal services in our churches, kept apart due to the Covid-19 pandemic stay-at-home lockdown, we are together. Even as we are unable to physically participate in the Divine Liturgis during our Bulgarian Orthodox Youth Apstolate (BOYA) meeting, our Popadia’s and Deaconisa’s Gathering and our Annual Diocesan Sobor, we are united together in the Heavenly Banquet.
Each celebration of the Eucharist unites us with each other and the whole Church. Together, we who are members of the Church Militant (Ecclesia militans), are united with the Church Triumphant (Ecclesia triumphans) in heaven. Nothing can separate us from Christ, Who is and shall be always in our midst, and so nothing can separate us from each other. In our suffering and loneliness, we are one with the martyrs who have gone on before us, and with the saints on whose heavenly intercession we so depend.
Even as we are barred from our parish’s celebration of the Divine Liturgy, forbidden, as we are, to congregate in our Parish temples, we are together, united together in the Mystical Supper. Like the spokes of a wheel, gathered around the center, we are one with each other, through the unity of the Church, and made one flesh in Jesus Christ.
So, take heart, my beloved Fathers, Brethren and Sisters in Christ. We Orthodox Christians have endured pandemics before, and like our forebearers, we will survive this one. Remembering that nothing is allowed by God that is without salvific benefits, we will find ourselves, once again, standing next to our friends, relatives, and fellow believers, celebrating the Divine Liturgy, perhaps even experiencing it as never before.
The City of God is on a high hill, standing brightly before us, and we have reason to rejoice. God bless all of you with health and safety and may we see the end of this pandemic very soon. Be careful out there and follow what the experts are saying – we are not doctors or health experts – and we need to help keep everyone healthy in the world.
With love in the Lord,
July 16, 2020
(S) + Metropolitan JOSEPH