Sunday, 25 January 2009

Visit of Metropolitan John

Visit of Metropolitan John

Our beloved father and Metropolitan John will come to us at St. Michael’s on Saturday 21st February and stay for the Divine Liturgy on Sunday 22nd February. Sayedna John will be accompanied by Archimandrite Athanasios.

They will be with us for Memorial and Great Vespers at 6pm and will then rest.

On the Sunday, after the Divine Liturgy, we shall move to the Audley Community Centre for a shared buffet-style lunch, but they must leave early Sunday evening in order to be back in Cambridge for English classes on Monday morning.

When sayedna John came to consecrate St. Michael’s we arranged fish and chips for lunch. This time let us show our hospitality with some excellent “special dishes”.
Please sign up for this, indicating what you will provide. Whatever you can do well is a “special dish”. Remember that monastics do not eat meat so some dishes should be fish or vegetarian.

Whilst it is correct to address our Metropolitan as “your eminence”, and liturgically as “Master”, the more informal form of address is “sayedna”, like “vladyka” for the Slavs. We greet him, of course, by kissing his hand and asking for his blessing.

Why all the fuss?

The Orthodox Christian Church is not like any other kind of religious society, and we cannot find outside of Holy Orthodoxy anything which properly parallels our God-given concept of true Bishops.

Luke 9: 1&2 “ He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”

Matthew 10: 40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him Who sent Me.”
These are the very words of our Saviour Christ and the Church has always taken them literally.

St. Ignatios of Antioch, writing in 107A.D., “ The Bishop in each church presides in the place of God … Wherever the Bishop appears, there let the people be, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

At the consecration of a Bishop, he is given a threefold power: to rule, to teach and to celebrate the Mysteries.
The first Bishops, the Holy Apostles, and those consecrated by them formed an assembly.
The priests were the helpers of each individual Bishop in instructing the faithful and in performing liturgical services. Whenever a priest serves the Liturgy he represents the Bishop and the Bishop represents, or “stands in the place of” Christ Himself.

1 Timothy 5: 12 & 13 “We urge you, brethren to recognise those who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”

Whenever there is a clergy-meeting in London, I invariably thank Fr. Samir for his hospitality to us … very polite and very English! Fr. Samir, my dear brother, always points out that he has not offered “hospitality” which is for strangers, but rather he has welcomed us as “family”. We have been “at home” together.
It was such a shock to our English system when we first saw Orthodox men and women kissing each other in greeting, as instructed by the Holy Scriptures, rather than the somewhat cold and formal handshake.
When our beloved Metropolitan comes to us let us be excited and full of love, for he represents Christ and he is “family”.