Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

On December 6, we commemorate the feast of one of the most beloved saints of our Church, Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra, the Wonderworker. His life and ministry to God’s people and the Church so many centuries ago has become a model for all Christians, but especially for our clergy. As we sing in his Apolytikion, he is a “model of faith and the image of gentleness” (κανόνα πίστεως καὶ είκόνα πραότητος).

What makes him such an exceptional role model? First was his commitment to the truth of our Orthodox Christian Faith. Saint Nicholas was present at the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD, where he defended the Orthodox faith against Arianism. As we know, the teachings of Arius were condemned by the First Ecumenical Council and proclaimed the Orthodox Faith, that Jesus Christ is “True God of True God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father.”  In our lives, and the lives of our clergy, our goal should be to have the same zeal for the truth of our Faith.

Second, he had concern for his people. There are many stories about how Saint Nicholas intervened to care for his flock. In this Christmas season, we recall the story of how Saint Nicholas secretly helped the less fortunate. Through his compassion, we can see how Saint Nicholas modeled generosity and philanthropy, all to show God’s providential care for His people.

Perhaps we did not make the connection at the time, but we have imitated Saint Nicholas’ zeal for the faith and the care for the people during this pandemic. Our clergy and faithful continue to check on parishioners who have stayed at home during these months. Our parishes have organized ways of feeding the hungry and providing relief and support for those who have suffered economically. Through social media, the Orthodox Faith is being shared very creatively, from live streaming of worship services to online broadcasts of discussions and classes, reaching many people near and far.

Our Metropolis is blessed with Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center which has been a cornerstone ministry for over 40 years. The Ranch has been integral in the development and expansion of our Metropolis ministries including the Greek Village Camp, Clergy Continuing Education programs, expanded Youth and Young Adult Retreats, Summer Camp and Church Music Conferences. Through the life of worship and fellowship, a combination of fun and serious activities, those who spend time at the Ranch leave with refreshed spirits, a deeper knowledge of our Faith, and equipped to live that Faith in the world.

In our Archdiocese, we are watching the building of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. On target to be opened in September 2021, the twentieth anniversary of the terrible attacks of 9/11, the Shrine promises to be a witness of Orthodox Truth, and as a Memorial for the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the airplane crash at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In the walls of the new Saint Nicholas Church there will be space devoted for all to find comfort and healing from that devastating and terrible day. We are grateful to the many faithful of our Metropolis who have been so generous financially and with their wisdom to see construction resume so it can become a beacon to the world, just as Saint Nicholas was in those early days as he proclaimed the True Faith.

Beloved in the Lord, we can learn so much from Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker about how we can conduct ourselves as Christians in the world and imitate his example. Each of us can become a witness for truth. Each of us can be agents of care and concern for the suffering. Each of us can be instruments of quiet generosity and philanthropy, especially in this Christmas Season, but indeed throughout the year.

May Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker bless you and inspire you. And to all who celebrate their Feast on this day, may you be blessed.

Hronia Polla!