Pastoral Letter June 10, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Remember this one? Keep reading to the end. I have some updates!

“It’s that time of year again when schools are out, vacations are taking place, and our weekend hours become all the more precious. There are many reasons not to come to church on Sundays.

To be helpful, and to alleviate any pangs of guilt you may be feeling, I thought I should give you some more reasons. Though this list is not necessarily exhaustive, and I’m borrowing much of the concept from other sources, let’s make it easier for you to enjoy your Sunday mornings:

MY TOP TEN LIST OF REASONS NOT TO COME TO CHURCH THIS SUMMER:

1. The Church is not Air Conditioned.
False! While some churches may be sweltering during the summer months, that is not the case for us! In fact, we can make the sanctuary so cold, that you’ll need to wear a sweater and bring a jacket. Remember, I am wearing several layers of vestments while serving in the altar, so I actually prefer the church to feel like a wintery wonderland. Will that help us fill the church during the summer? Brrrr.

2. I Have a Boat
Of course you do! Every other person who lives along the Wasatch Front does. Boats are great – Jesus spent a lot of time on boats since His Disciples were mostly fishermen. He preached from them, calmed storms in them, and walked on water towards them. Attend the Divine Liturgy this summer before launching your boat and I guarantee you’ll hear at least one reference to boats and/or water.

3. The Lawn Needs Mowing
And the flower beds need planting and the vegetable gardens need weeding and the fence needs painting and…and…and! There will always be chores to do around the house – both inside and out. But don’t neglect being in the Lord’s house as you attend to your own. Christ, Himself did allot of planting, harvesting, cultivating and pruning. But He did it for our spiritual benefit, not to our detriment. Put down the edger and come to Liturgy!

4. The Kids Have Games
Since moving back to Utah, we have experienced much less of this annoying occurrence in sports, but it still happens. I remember attending a club (comp) soccer game on a Sunday morning, at 7:00 am; two hours before the Orthros. Of course I was wearing my collar and a black suit since I was leaving directly to celebrate services. A woman wearing a Notre Dame hat asked me, “Father, don’t you have somewhere to be?” So of course I answered. “Sure. Don’t you also have somewhere else to be?” Yes, kids play sports. But we really need to limit their participation on Sundays. We can’t use our children’s athletic schedules as excuses to stay away from church. Who signed them up anyway?!?

5. There’s Church in the Summer, Even though Pascha was so Late?
Yup. Every Sunday morning just like the rest of the year. With Fellowship Hour, too!

6. We’re Away for the Weekend
That’s great – I hope you have a relaxing time. Be sure to take your Sunday Best with you and look up the closest Orthodox Church to your destination. It’s always fun to visit other churches and attend the Divine Liturgy in different cities. The similarities are obvious, but spotting the differences can be lots of fun, especially for the kids. If you are planning on visiting another parish this summer, let me know in advance and I will call that priest and make your introduction.

7. There’s No Sunday School
Perfect! Your kids can remain in church with you for the entire Liturgy. You can spend more time together as a family. Isn’t that better than being all separated on a dirt bike trail or on individual jet skis? Where’s the quality time in that? Besides, this is a wonderful time to have your boys who are entering into 3rd Grade start trying on Altar Boy robes and beginning to learn what to do “back there.” Summer is a non-threatening, easy time to begin Altar Service. Don’t wait for school to begin before allowing your boys to serve. Give them a head start!

8. I Gave up Summer Church for Lent
Lent is over! And the Apostles Fast is only, like, two days this year (that’s what happens when Pascha is so late.) So…since you won’t be spending the entire month of June watching your friends eat hotdogs and hamburgers at neighborhood barbeques, while you a keep a strict abstinence through the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, you can thank the Lord for this fast-free summer – at church! See you there!

9. I’d Rather Be Outside
I have an answer for that as well. Everyone can take turns sitting on the left side of the church so you can share opportunities in gazing out of the window. We are uniquely blessed in that most Orthodox Churches do not have windows that offer such views of nature. While attending the Divine Liturgy, at St. Anna’s, you’ll feel as though we are worshiping up a Cottonwood Canyon; the view is that lovely from our one window. Enjoy!

10. I Have a 9:00 am Tee Time
How perfect for you! This Sunday, June 12th, the Divine Liturgy begins at 7:00 am and is perfectly suited for almost any golf course – public or private. Get your early golfing done this weekend. Consider it our GOYANs gift to you, as they depart for Camp Emmanuel!

I hope you’ve found a good reason in this list to stay away from the Divine Liturgy until after Labor Day. But if not, I look forward to seeing you each Sunday. Summer is for relaxing the body and soul. The Divine Liturgy is for engaging the body and soul. You see, they’re made for each other!” WARNING: THIS WAS THE SCHEDULE TWO YEARS AGO. THIS SUNDAY’S SERVICES ARE REGULARLY SCHEDULED.

Now, for today’s thoughts on Thursday, June 7th, 2018…

If popular TV shows can offer summer reruns, why can’t I? – Fr. Anthony Savas

You may have had this thought, so I’m here to confirm for you right now: when I am blessing the congregation during the Divine Liturgy, I am also scanning to see who is there. and who is not. Especially during the summer months.

Now I realize the seemingly blatant hypocrisy of this message, as I write it poolside in Honolulu, anticipating Saturday’s marriage of Alexander Nicholas and Sarina Donnelly…

And with the knowledge that I won’t be in church this Sunday (thanks, Fr. Elias)…

And realizing that I’m kind of lazy at the moment; republishing what has already been written (being in Honolulu and all)…

And reminding everyone, every chance I get that I’m in Hawaii (did I mention that? Oh, yes, that’s where Honolulu is, of course. My bad.)…

But all of this silliness is precisely my point.

Summer is a busy time, Its a fun time. Prayerfully, its a safe time. But there is no reason that we can’t make time for worship.

I’ve never offered a late spring sermon entitled “See You in the Fall'” and there are reasons for that. God does not take a vacation from blessing, inspiring, answering, healing, protecting and gifting us. We should return the favor, in kind, by remaining joyful to stand in His presence.

Being out of town is a good enough reason not to be at St. Anna’s this Sunday, or any other Sunday. But the Sunday before you leave, and the Sunday after you return, should no longer be in play for that excuse. The choir still prepares their hymns. I (or the guest priest) will still write a sermon. You should still prepare for Communion. Please attend to the tender care of your precious soul during these months.

Lastly, I want to remind you that many of the particulars of the original post on this subject, are out of date. Especially the big, red warning that I included.

But please recall that while Pascha was very late two years ago, it was a bit early this year. So the 2018 Apostles Fast lasts actually about a full month. Please be mindful of this Fast and the reasons behind it. We are filled with God’s grace, we enjoy union with Him, and have knowledge of Him through the work of His Holy Apostles.

God bless you, enjoy the rest of this week. And into the next.

With Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony

Please be aware that I will not be in Church next Sunday either.

I am taking our Jr. GOYANs to Camp Emmanuel.

Believe me, NOT a vacation or a tropical wedding. (But still a great time)!