(By Professor Michael Anthony, lay preacher and founding president, Greek Orthodox Christian Society)
The year 2015 has seen many Communal events and festivities, showing the work of the Greek Orthodox Christian Society in our city, and to a lesser extent in other parts of the Country. These events were generally impressive, and succeeded in showing to our Community the amount of Christian work taking place in Sydney.
However, this was not the purpose of organising so many activities, which to say the least, were time consuming, simply for the reason to show our organising prowess. Our aim was much more serious and important. Whether this aim was achieved, is something which we must look at and analyse, because after all, this is the central core of our existence and the reason for so much effort and sacrifice in the field of Christian mission.
The assessment is best summarised by listing the problems that face our Orthodox brethren and the impact of our work on them.
- The problem of Ignorance/Indifference: We hope that the sale of Christian books, particularly of the Holy Bible, the operation of Sunday Schools, the Sermons by the members so appointed, the publication of “Lychnos”, and the personal example of our own life, has had some effect on instilling the deeper values of our Faith into our congregations. This is probably true, though more solid evidence is needed for one to come to a realistic positive conclusion.
- The problem of Repentance (Metanoia): This work, about which our Society speaks to its members frequently and forcefully, was pioneered by Fr Stefanos as a dedicated confessor, and gradually spread to some of the Parishes, forming groups of people with real insight into their Christian calling. We glorify God for this blessing.
- The problem of Spiritual Transformation: This appears to proceed slowly, at every level of group meetings (Society, Ladies Friendly Kyklo, Youth Omathes). It is a topic very difficult to assess with any degree of accuracy, as it is mostly a personal matter of the individual and his spiritual father. However, judging by external actions of people, one can assume with some degree of reservation, that there are instances of people with impressive improvement in this sphere.
- The matter of Sunday Schools: The operation of 67 Sunday Schools in Sydney is certainly a matter of success, and it is further a matter of Christian pride that their operation is so flawless. This is both due to the organisation as well as the obedience of the teachers to serve wherever they are told to do so. However, we need language improvement and more passionate interest in the concept of Sunday School and the children, by the Sunday School teachers.
- The problem of Witnessing/Confession: Because if you confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9). This is a problem we must all pay attention to. It is certainly one of our weak points, and it appears not to have improved much over the years. It affects the younger members more, because it is age related and is partly enhanced by natural reservation. However, older members should pay great/serious attention – refer to the above verse by Paul the Apostle – the unbelievable rewards and its negative implications! The courage needed for confessing Jesus, we should pass to all our members and those that support us!
Source: December 2015 – January 2016 Lychnos Edition