The above is a beautiful certificate of gratitude given to my father-in-law, V. Rev. Stavrophor Lazar Kostur. What’s even more special and touching was that it was given to him in retirement. He’s a snow bird in the North Miami area where he attends the local Serbian Church, serving and singing at the chanter’s stand whenever needed. In short, helping out wherever he can.
Recently I had a conversation with a parishioner about something I’ve discussed countless of times over the years: How to get more people involved. It’s an issue I’m sure all priests have dealt with regardless of the size of the parish. Wherever you go it seems like it’s always a small group of people who are the ones doing all the work. We’re reminded of Martha who complains to the Lord that she’s doing all the work while her sister Mary is just sitting at the fee of Jesus. And even though the Lord replies to her that Mary has chosen the better part, the fact of the matter is someone has to prepare all the food in the kitchen.
For what it’s worth I have the feeling that this will always be the case. There will never be enough help at parish events. And by that I don’t mean to dishearten anyone. On the contrary, the fact that our parishes have survived for so many years with so little help can be nothing less than a sign of God’s presence and His help.
There is a story in the Old Testament book of Judges about how Israel was going to war with the Midianites. Gideon was judge at the time and he gathered some 32,000 men to go to battle. Even though they were outmatched to the 135,000 Midianites, they knew the Lord would grant them victory. But there was a problem. When the Lord saw how many people Gideon had He immediately said that that was way too much. And the reason the Lord gave: “…I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’…” (Judges 7:2). So God told Gideon to weed out the cowards and those unfit for battle until his army went from 32,000 to 10,000 and finally to a measly 300. Against 135,000. That’s when God told Gideon, Now you’re ready for battle.
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” says the Psalmist (20:7). Let’s not forget that some of the most beautiful Orthodox churches throughout this country were not built by the wealthy but poor immigrants. They worked hard and sacrificed much. We have awe inspiring temples, filled with beautiful frescoes, iconostasis made of richly adorned woodwork, etc. etc……Is it really that miraculous a feat or was God with us all along?
Like I said, I’m sure we will always be complaining about not enough help. The question is, however, when will we “remember the name of the Lord”?