Today is Mine — Tomorrow is Yours
by Fr. James C. Meena
“Be firm in your faith, don’t get involved in foolish contentions about the law”. Don’t get involved in foolish arguments, because there is a great deal more depth to your faith than you are even aware of. (I Timothy 1:3-7)
In the process of becoming mature, a process that we hope goes on for the rest of our lives, we develop concepts that we test throughout our lifetime. As a teenager I had the idea that our people were a bunch of stupid immigrants. I resented being called a foreigner and would have as little as possible to do with my heritage. The Church, was a social center where I could come and meet my friends, a point of departure from which my friends and I could go to a movie or bowling or roller skating or do the things that young people enjoy. As a spiritual entity the Church had no meaning for me at all. We did not have the resources that we have at our disposal today.
My generation went through a war and the adults and young girls held the Church together while the young men were off fighting. But when we came back the young people agreed, “This is our Church, and we’ve got to do something about it”. Out of that determination SOYO was born and became the volunteer agency through which all of the efforts of the young people of this Archdiocese were coordinated. Sunday Schools became better year by year and it became possible for us to organize choirs, to gather music and to have the inspiring services that we have today. These things happened because my generation decided that we needed the Church and that the Church needed us. We would not abandon Her.
There was nothing magical about all this. I suspect that the Holy Spirit was working in us just as He is working in you. We did what we could to make the Church organizationally better than it was. Our parents were concerned with survival. Our generation was concerned with improvement. Your generation must now be concerned with re-establishing and renewing that which is Orthodox.
The challenge of your generation is to make the Church better than it is today; to make the Sunday Schools more effective; to broaden the choir’s selection of Liturgical Music; to inspire the adults and to bring in the young people. It won’t be long before you are the old timers in the Church.
Just yesterday I was sitting wearing the vestment of an Acolyte. Just yesterday I was singing in the choir. Just yesterday I was a member of the teen class. Just yesterday I considered it a great privilege when the “old men” of the parish would let me help them count the offerings. That was just yesterday! And tomorrow it shall be you who will be thinking about what you were, JUST YESTERDAY.
When you are going to assess what is happening in the Church, don’t compare our programs with those who have had institutionalized programs for generations, who have had an opportunity to learn by trial and error for two hundred years, and who have budgets for their youth programs alone which outshine some of our total parish budgets. Don’t make those comparisons because they are unfair.
Our problem has been that we were content with little things, with small Sunday Schools, with untrained teachers, with small untrained choirs, with miniscule budgets, and that’s why I think that God has not given us more. We didn’t reach for more! We didn’t strive to go beyond what we were and are today.
Reach for the sky! Even if you fall short you might come up with a star or two in your hands. If you refuse to be limited by earthbound things, if you refuse to be satisfied with things the way they are, if you get involved, you the young men and women of God, if you’re going to really care about what is happening in the Church today, then when you become the “old timers” in your Church with the responsibility to take care of the Family of God, you are going to be fulfilled and happy with yourselves. Don’t wait!
Start to commit yourselves from now. Start to get in the habit of knowing that God never says “impossible” to those who believe. Never! If you believe that you can reach for the heavens, God will help you. If you really believe that you can reach your limits, then God will make you taller than you are, not physically but spiritually. You can stand as tall as you want to be. You can stretch as far as you want to. You can accomplish all the things that you wish to accomplish for the glory of God.
Children of God simply hang in there even when things look bad. Even when they look desperate they hang tough because they know that God is on their side. “Who can be opposed to me if God is for me?” (Romans 8:31) “whatsoever you shall ask in my name, it shall be granted unto you! (St. John 14:13) “All things are possible to them that believe.” (St. Mark 9:23)
Be affirmative! Say, “Yes God, I am your servant.” Then go about with living your life as if you meant it. Your life is precious to God. You are His Children. He is our Father.
Youth of the Church, yesterday belonged to my parents! Today is mine! Tomorrow is yours! What will you make of it?
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America