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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message March 14, 2021

We were expelled of old, O Lord, from the Garden of Eden, for wrongly eating from the tree. But, O my God and Savior, You once again have restored us through Your Cross and Your Passion. Thereby, O Master, fortify and enable us purely to finish Lent and to worship Your holy resurrection, Pascha our saving Passover, by the prayers of Your Mother.                 

Hymn of Forgiveness Sunday

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday, the final Day of the Lord which precedes Great and Holy Lent is known as Forgiveness Sunday. It is the final day of the Triodion Period and stands as the entrance to what will be our “new normal” for the next 50+ days. Our Lenten journey will be filled with successes, struggles, victories, defeats, highs, lows, celebrations, laments, good days, and, likely some not-so-good days. 

But from the time we tasted of the fruit of the forbidden tree, stood ashamedly before God, blamed the other for our own offences, found ourselves expelled from the Kingdom, and felt true isolation, we have yearned to reconcile with God. Thankfully for us, He pined equally for union as well.

Standing in sharp contrast to the theme of forgiveness which defines this Sunday morning and evening, the Church also commemorates on this day the horrific event of our Expulsion from the Garden. Look upon the icon at the top of this message. Even as a mere fragment of the image, the depiction is clear. The Archangel Michael has his hands on Adam, literally shoving him away. There is a gate behind him, guarded by the Cherubim so that no man or woman could enter therein.

The eyes of our forefather and foremother are downcast and crestfallen. Their hands are lifted in a posture of self defense. But regrettably, they have no defense. The eyes of the angel are peering, laser-focused and stern. He is doing God’s bidding. He is casting out human kind from their natural environment, from their comfortable existence, and their familiar surroundings. Their every need was met. Their every, wholesome desire was fulfilled and they lived in a perpetual state of bliss. At least they should have.

But they ate from a tree that was forbidden, and suffered the consequences. Orthodox theology is quite clear on this concept: the Church does not teach the false doctrine of “original sin,” as the West supports. While we inherit the circumstances and the consequences of the Fall, we do not suffer, or participate in the actual guilt of Adam’s sin. The consequences are bad enough. 

Adam and Eve’s desire to acquire God’s knowledge as their own, as the serpent promised, was their downfall and the commencement of our woes. Every ill, malady, vice, addiction and disease flooded around us from that point and challenges our every moment to this day. Ironically, their hunger for that which was not theirs to take, is the direct cause of literal hunger in the world today.

My Beloved in the Lord, as we begin our new life in Christ through the Great Fast, I would like to introduce to you a new and ongoing ministry that will begin on Monday, March 15th, the First Day of Lent: 

St. Anna Food Support Program

In response to the critical need to address hunger in our community, St. Anna is establishing our Church building as a permanent collection/drop-off location to supplement two local pantries that distribute food items to families in need throughout the Sandy and greater area.

Donations of nonperishable food items can be brought to Church on designated days and times below and delivered regularly to the pantries at Copperview Food and Resource Center, operated by Utah Community Action, and Diamond Ridge Alternative High School/Entrada Adult High School in the Canyons School District. Both pantries partner with Utah Food Bank.

The pantries have provided a list of basic, most-needed food items, which will be collected on an ongoing basis. Additional requests for urgently needed items will be addressed by coordinating short-term mini-drives/projects with various parish ministries. Moving forward, we will expand our collection efforts to incorporate donations from the community. (See flyer with the attachments and in the Bulletin)

Most needed food items

Canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon, etc.); canned vegetables, canned chili, peanut butter, jelly, Top Ramen, Instant Mac and Cheese, Cup O’ Noodle (other instant meals); rice; flour, sugar, dry milk, and granola bars

Donation drop-off

Drop-off days/times: Sundays 9:00 am -12:00 noon and Tuesdays 9:00-11:00 am. Place donated items in the large blue bin in the Fellowship Hall. All donations from the above list are appreciated. Families can also join together to purchase case goods (e.g., WinCo Foods, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.).

Please do not misunderstand and think this is a passing food drive or seasonal project. The collection bin will be a permanent fixture at St. Anna’s. It will serve with the same level of importance as the altar table itself. It is my fervent prayer that going forward, when we prepare ourselves to come to church, it will be completely natural to always have in hand a case of peanut butter or a flat of canned green beans. Food insecurity is a very real and pervasive reality in our surrounding neighborhood. This project was developed out of a desired partnership between local faith leaders and school officials of the Canyons School District. 

We will help to supply small, local, educationally-based food pantries that serve the needs of thousands of families per year.

The realities of the Fall are just that…realities. Together, we as a community who strive for, and work towards the return to God’s Kingdom will do so, in part, but giving back was taken away at the Fall: dignity and sustenance.

This is an on-going project under the umbrella of our Service Ministry Team, and supported by our Men’s and Women’s Ministry Teams.

For questions, call Kathy Shand or Ann Sasich. 

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

Remember to participate in this year’s Lenten Challenge and pick up your free copy of “Toolkit for Spiritual Growth” at the St. Anna Bookstore. Gain insight into the spiritual principles of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Follow the five-week Study Guide and enhance your experience with the following link:

https://1788c8d2-cf52-49c6-b300-646496512c90.filesusr.com/ugd/17a549_d9de527ab76e4f81ae1a4bfaf7983f22.pdf