January 14 2017

Khrystos Narodyvsya! Christ is Born!

Slavimo Yoho! Let us (all) Glorify Him!

By the always providential hand of God, I have been provided with this opportunity to offer some comments, news, information and any further thoughts from the Office of the Consistory (the national “head office,”) of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.

God willing this “Chancellor’s Corner” will be up-dated regularly, as life circumstances allow.

For this first “installment,” I wish and pray all of our hierarchs, clergy and their families, and all members, families, and supporters and friends of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada God’s abundant blessings for this New 2017 Year.

This “first installment” is the “column” that appears in the January 2017 issue of the “Visnyk – the Herald,” which was mailed out in the last several days.

“Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shone the Light of knowledge upon the world. …”

It is a crispy, clear and very cold day here in Winnipeg, (with lots of snow, after a third major snowfall in just over a month,) in this first week of January. By the will and Grace of God, I have another opportunity to offer some thoughts from the “administrative branch” of our beloved UOCC.

I begin with the quote above – the first line of our Nativity Troparion, which we joyously sing out through “Rizdvo,” along with all of our beautiful “kolyady” (carols.) And, I am inspired – no doubt by our God “who comes from way above,” to us, to us living and struggling to acquire the Kingdom of Heaven in and through this material world. Our God does indeed come to be with us “z namy Boh! – God (is) with us!” And, His Nativity shines a Light upon the world, and therefore upon every one of us, including those of us who seek to serve and lead in our parishes and communities, as well as on regional and national levels of our church’s administration.

I am inspired though, further to offer (to some extent a “development” beyond my thoughts at this time, one year ago, when we were six months into this term of the Consistory Board,) – what “Rizdvo” – the coming of God into the world, and on the “twelfth day” of the feast, the revelation by God the Father, that indeed, “this is my Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased …” (at “Yordan,” – the Feast of the Epiphany or Theophany of Our Lord,) may offer regarding “church life and administration.”

As the Holy Fathers have taught and handed down to us, the One Church of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has two aspects: there is the “Church Triumphant” and the “Church Militant.” As Christians we are at all times called and indeed challenged to bear these two aspects in mind, and to be willing to pay whatever price needs to be paid to support the Church, and in both aspects. Let me reflect a little more about how the world around us draws our attention away from our sustained and continued discipleship (coming from the words disciple and discipline,) in honouring both of these aspects.

When the Fathers write of the Church Triumphant, they are referring to that which we associate and often call to mind with a “beautiful service,” with that deep and profound sense of awe and wonder when we gather, for example on Rizdvo, and joyously and loudly proclaim “Boh Predvichnyj Narodyvsya. The Church Triumphant is that worshipping and proclaiming Church where the worship and proclaiming goes on without stopping, and the place where we are drawn to when we enter into our beautiful physical structures – churches, and in particular, when we are worshipping an praying together in those churches, many of which stand empty too much of the time on the western Canadian prairies, now. It is this Church Triumphant that we feel drawn to and into. It is this Church Triumphant that draws our attention and it is this Church Triumphant that we seek to build up in every way we possibly can, as God’s grace allows. And yet, at the same time, in order to have and continue to build the Church Triumphant (as God’s Gift to us!,) – we are called to engage in working in and for and with the other aspect…

When the Fathers write of the Church Militant, they are referring to the “business,” the “worldly administration” of the Church. Indeed the challenges that the heavenly institution (Church Triumphant,) continually faces in being the Church in the material, physical world in which we live. And here’s the key point – if we seek to be faithful to the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we all, everyone of us must bear the responsibility for the Church Militant and for the Church’s engagement in and with the world. For, without a sense of the Church Militant, (and without the paying of the price for it,) we will have great difficulty partaking of or perceiving even of the Church Triumphant.

To put this yet another way – and the Incarnation of God, the Birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ underscores this in a most direct and profound way … We need to give of ourselves fully, completely and without reservation to the Church Militant, so that we can experience the Church Triumphant. We cannot give minimally of our time, our energy or our resources to the Church (Militant) and expect to receive much (or even perceive or experience much) in the Church Triumphant. And if we either wait for someone else to take the lead, (or in our opinion to “give or contribute more time or money,”) first, then we collectively undermine the very One Church that is the Ark of our Salvation – our vessel to take us into the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, what do we do, to build up the Church, and our beloved UOCC, specifically? To repeat from one year ago, (and several other messages since,) we are all in this together, we are all on the same Ark of Our Salvation…

First, we pray – we give thanks always!

Secondly, in giving thanks for God’s blessings, we thank Him for His gifts to and for each of us, and we acknowledge our own limitations and short-comings, and strive to overcome them, first and foremost…

Third, we ask God to help us to be compassionate to the “other” – we do not know the cross or crosses they are bearing, we may have very little idea of why their “Rizdvo” may be so sad as to be un-bearable…

Fourth, we do what we can, to the best of our abilities, as we can, when we can … and without reservation – as we call each other to commend ourselves and one another and our whole life unto Christ Our God at every Divine Liturgy.

And fifth, we resolve to serve our UOCC – in every way we can, by seeking to be helpful and of service however, whenever, and to as great an extent as we can. In this 2017 year, our Canadian nation will be celebrating its 150th Birthday. Let’s make this year a prelude to an even greater and spiritually-edifying centennial celebration of our Church’s missionary endeavours and work in and for the Church Militant in 2018.

– Fr. Taras Udod, Chancellor of the UOCC