UKRAINIAN AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX CHURCH
OF NORTH & SOUTH AMERICA
SPIRITUAL MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR - 2005
"The winds of change blow straight
into the face of time.
Like a stormwind that will ring
the freedom bell for peace of mind.
Let your balalaika sing
what my guitar wants to say . . . "
"Take me, to the magic of the moment
on a glory night
where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
in the wind of change . . . "
- (The Scorpions, "Winds of Change" - 1991) -
Devoted Clergy and Beloved Faithful:
Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!
Khrystos mizh nami! Je i budet!
At the threshold of another new year, we all have much to ponder and much to pray about, for our families, friends, parishes, all those who suffer throughout the world, people who have asked our prayers and in particular, for our nation, the United States and our ancestral Motherland, Ukraine. Moreover, we have a Christian duty to keep in our thoughts and actions, those many who have suffered from natural disasters and other tragedies, in these recent weeks.
While every January 1 is a time for new beginnings and resolutions, this New Year's Day carried with it, an especial mood of hope and promise. The quote with which I began this message, through its poetic genre of the culture of our time, sets the atmosphere for these positive expectations for the future. While they were aptly written about the events surrounding the early 90s, the Velvet Revolution, the taking down of the Berlin Wall and the new found freedom that many East European nations experienced at that time, they are just as poignant today, following the courageous "Orange Revolution" which has brought justice and hopefully, full freedom to Ukraine. The ancestral land of our church is now known around the world for the strength of its people to stand up for their principles and to follow the "winds of change."
Just a short time ago, we witnessed an unprecedented event in the land of our forebears, both those in the flesh and in the faith. The courage and fortitude of our people, young and old, in the name of freedom, democracy, liberty and justice, to stand firmly and unresistingly for these principles has been crowned with the election of Ukraine's first truly independent president. Now is a time to rejoice in this victory of goodness and to give thanks for the opportunity to see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears, the ringing of the "freedom bell for peace of mind."
The New Year is a time for change and improvement, and the "winds of change" have certainly blown throughout Ukraine during these long past weeks. Now comes the time to apply these principles to our own lives. The opportunity for change for the better and for the freedom to accomplish that which leads to the fulfillment of God's reign on earth are the foundation of these strongwinds. As the message of Jesus' coming among us was one of "peace on earth and good will to all," it implies the freedom and self-determination to make the world a place in which God's peace can be felt and spread to others.
It is our sacred and moral duty to make sure that the "winds of change" continue to blow and to work for the good - for the building up of God's reign. This means that we must labor on behalf of what God's reign, his kingdom, really implies - equality of all, freedom of self-determination and expression, justice for those who have been wronged or cast down in life and the liberty which will allow all these things to happen. We must be attentive to Jesus' words in the Gospels, particularly those associated with the beginning of his public ministry, when he read from the scriptures, words very similar to this theme (Lk. 4: 16-21). We find also, these teachings of Our Lord in Matthew's well-known "Sermon on the Mount" (cf. Mt. 5: 1-11; 29-30) and Luke's parallel "Sermon on the Plain" (cf. Lk. 6: 20-49).
"The world is closing in
Did you ever think
That we could be so close, like brothers
The future's in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change"
- ("Winds of Change" - 1991) -
The time has ended, when we can judge solely by standards handed down to us by the agendas of others or by our own experience alone. It is past, when we were able to look at things from one side only, without consideration for the situations or circumstances of people. Time has run out, for us to be narrow of thought or close minded, without taking to heart, the real truths that God has given to us in the sacred texts and which he continues to reveal to us through the world today and those in it. God gave us the gift of reason and expects us to use it for our own good and that of the whole world. God's reason means casting off stereotypical models that have long been disproved and have plagued people's minds and opinions, and move strongly into the light of day, where the real truth lies. History can teach us many lessons, but none so important as learning from the experience and yes, the mistakes of the past, so as to make for a better, brighter future.
I urge you all to make these first weeks of the New Year, ones of determination that flow with the "winds of change." These "winds of change" will not stop and will continue without us, whether we choose to follow them or not. The important point is that every year and every day, God gives us new opportunities, to make a difference in life. The signs are always there, if we only choose to listen to God's voice - the voice of reason. Often, we choose not to follow God's lead and prompting and are left in the same, stagnant position as before - still complaining, still unsatisfied and more than likely, still unhappy. God says that "Behold, I come to make all things new . . . " (Book of Revelation). It is not He that wishes us to continue down the path of anachronism and stagnancy, but rather, the choice is ours. Let each day be one in which we offer to God, all the opportunities he gives us, and let us pray constantly for the courage to follow through with them and accomplish His will.
Be assured dear friends, of our continued support, prayers and love as we begin this new year together. It is my sincere hope that it will be a time of increased faith, advancement in all good things and productive cooperation with God's will, that will lead us all to participate in the advancement of His reign on earth.
With the pledge of our blessing upon you all, I ask you to remember me in your daily prayers, as I remember you all in each Divine Liturgy that I celebrate.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Michael Javchak Champion, DD., MA Th.
Archbishop-Metropolitan of the United States & the Americas
Back to Main Page.