In September we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Cross. There are many ways we can think to the Cross and Our Saviour’s sacrifice upon it. One aspect which we do no often reflect upon is that Our Lord was martyred. He was the Protomartyr. For what is martyrdom; it is avoiding anything, any false teaching, any person, and any event which separates us from God; and it the upholding of this Truth without any deviation from it.
The Jews looked for a Messiah. They wanted a Messiah who would be a great leader in human terms; one who would raise an army and overthrow the occupation of the Roman Empire. They wanted a Messiah who would affirm that they held the correct understanding and interpretation of the Law; they wanted him to affirm that they were right. And so, they had no time for the Gospel preached by Our Lord; Love your enemies, be born again, become like little children, understand the Law differently; cursing a brother is murder, looking upon a woman with desire is adultery &c. Indeed, the whole of His teaching they wanted to set aside; to continue to be Pharisees rather than publicans. They did not want to follow the wisdom of the common man. Which leaders ever do? But Our Lord could not deviate from the Truth, He could not become the one they wanted. He was the Messiah but nor one acceptable to the Jewish leaders and, hence, he was put to death, martyred!
In this year we celebrate our 25 years as a parish and, in this, we have been potential ‘martyrs’. We have held the truth of the Holy Orthodox Church. In our personal lives and in our life together we have upheld this truth, ensuring that, as far as possible, we have not deviated from it, nor have we allowed ourselves to be swayed from it this way or that. We have tried to ensure that nothing, no teaching, no-one, no event has pulled us away from the truth of Christ's Gospel as understood in the Church. Of course, we have oft-times failed but our heart has been rightly directed. If we have suffered, been persecuted, been mocked or despised, for our belief, then we have suffered ‘martyrdom’ not of blood but of fidelity. (Perhaps giving up the church in Carlton and refusing to be involved in a legal wrangle was part of this martyrdom; when asked for our coat we gave our cloak as well, as Our Lord instructs in Matthew 5:40).
So, we can be justly grateful for this time of great blessing.
We have been well provided for. At this time, I celebrate 25 years since my ordination to the priesthood of the Holy Orthodox Church. I served my first Liturgy on the Feast of St Thomas 6/19 October. We became a Parish at Pentecost in 1995 but then we had a resident priest from October that year. Later Fr Peter was ordained and more recently Fr Julian. For many years we have had the devoted service of Fr Dn Ian. Yes, we have been greatly blessed. We were welcomed in our first year by the use of St Mary’s in the Lace Market, one of the oldest churches in Nottingham. Later were able to purchase our own church in Carlton. Then we moved to St Leodegarius, an even older church foundation than St Mary's and then we moved to St Aidan’s, perhaps arriving at last at a most suitable home; a Church dedicated to St Aidan, where we have been given such a good and firm welcome. We should also add that there are now two parishes in Nottingham welcoming British people into the Orthodox Tradition, whereas before 1995 there was not one so designated.
So, we celebrate with grateful thanks these 25 years, this Jubilee, and look forward to the next 25 years ahead. I hope that I have been a sufficiently good priest in these first 25 years and I ask your forgiveness where I have failed. Now we have Fr Julian to be priest for the next 25 years, I, God willing, shall not be with you for the whole of the next 25 years but perhaps for some years to come.
Rejoice with me, be thankful with me, may all our failings and shortcomings be forgiven, but may we go forward with the blessings of Christ Our Lord, remembering His words in Psalm 77; “ Hear my Law, O my people: incline your ears unto the words of my mouth. Let all put their trust in God and keep His commandments.”
Let us go forward in Joy and Peace.
Fr David, celebrating his Jubilee Year.
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others