Chancellor’s Corner – June 2023

Chancellor’s Corner – June 1, 2023 Martyr Justin the Philosopher

During this season, we’ve been reading from the Book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles. I find this to be one of the most exciting reads in the Bible, if one can say something like that. I have a distant but still powerful memory of being a young child reading the selection from Acts on Ascension (Acts 1:1-12) at one of my father’s small missions and reveling on being able to intone the Lord’s words “like a deacon” at the Gospel reading. But what truly makes the Book of Acts exciting is that it is a fluid continuation of the Gospel in the lives and work of the Apostles and first Christians. From chapter to chapter, we have real humans sharing the News and living the News. And the sharing and living both happen under the obvious rule of the Risen Jesus.

This Saturday we reach the conclusion of the Book of Acts (Acts 28:1-31). If you haven’t been reading along, I encourage you to organize your nightstand or your phone or Kindle to read this good, short book over the Summer. At the end of the Book, the Apostle Paul providentially reaches Rome and this means that His Lord’s command that “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) can evidently be fulfilled. “All roads lead to Rome” through a transportation network that goes from Britain to the Tigris-Euphrates and from the Danube River to Spain and northern Africa. So when the Gospel reaches Rome, it symbolically means that it is going to the ends of the earth — everywhere.

The good news for you and for me is that we continue to live in that Holy Spirit-guided “last minute” of history and get to continue the Acts. Our world may feel very different than A.D. 58. But there are some startling similarities. The authorities and media continually create entertainment, causes and even news and celebrations to engage the populace (take, for example, the ubiquitous messaging in the government and media around June’s “Pride Month”) to mask the dominant nihilism.

What we Christians have, on the other hand, is real news. News big enough for St. Peter to risk everything right after the Descent of the Holy Spirit to address the Men of Israel about Jesus of Nazareth whom they had crucified and whom God raised up (Acts 2:22-24) and for St. Paul to spend his last days solemnly testifying the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence (Acts 28:31).

It’s the magnitude of this Good News that propels us on our best days. Like the Apostles visiting the churches, His Eminence our Archbishop Benjamin visited a number of parishes and missions in the Diocese this past month. He had a variety of meetings in Oregon, some of which Fr. Matthew Tate and I joined as well. A dinner of Oregon clergy in both the Missionary Deanery and the Pacific Northwest Deanery with His Eminence was a highlight. His Eminence served at Holy Apostle Mission in Vancouver, WA. He awarded the pastor, Fr. Michael Rozdilski, with the honor of wearing a gold cross. He visited the Mission of the Holy Wisdom in Grand Junction, Colorado and Holy Ascension Mission in Hilo, Hawaii. We were honored to have His Eminence twice this month at his Cathedral in San Francisco.

A highlight of my month was attending the semi-annual retreat of the Rocky Mountain Deanery in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Fr. Anthony Karbo hosted us with a thoughtfully organized program of divine services, talks by guest speaker Fr. Silviu Bunta, and time for conversation around deanery business and to catch up.

Two things became clear to me in my meetings in both Portland and Colorado Springs: that the Good News is reaching people (lots of people!); and that there is so much more work to do. Relatedly, we really need more people to take up the task of spreading this precious Good News: “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38). Especially for priestly vocations, this means that you and I need to be optimistic and encouraging about that holy work.

Speaking of spreading the Gospel to the ends of the Earth: On May 22, His Eminence established the Sequim/Port Angelus Mission. In addition to his other duties, Fr. Daniel Lattier is priest-in-charge of this “daughter mission” of St. Herman of Alaska Church in Port Townsend.

His Eminence has also blessed Fr. Benjamin Huggins to relocate — later in July — from St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Delta, Colorado, to become rector of Holy Ascension Mission in Hilo, Hawaii. We are grateful to Fr. Daniel Jones who is stepping in as acting rector at St. Andrew’s and to Fr. Joseph Sharman who will also be assisting at St. Andrew’s in addition to the mission in Montrose.

I am looking forward to this weekend’s parish feast at Holy Trinity Cathedral. It’s a weekend when we receive more Good News – the Good News of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. I am also looking forward to our regular Diocesan Council meeting on the Wednesday after Pentecost (held by Zoom this time to better steward the financial gifts of our faithful).

In the midst of all the “stuff” we deal with in our life and in our time, I keep coming back to the Book of Acts. I am struck by how the Holy Apostles and their first followers kept their focus on the Good News and what they were called to do. And how this approach found favor with all the people. Let us also continue our regular post-Pentecost work:

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

Last but not least, I join all of you in wishing His Eminence a very happy birthday! Many Years!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Kirill