October 9, 2020
Fellowship of Saint Moses the Black
2020 Annual Conference
To the Reverend Fathers and Esteemed Faithful present,
Christ is in our midst!
With this letter, I greet all of the attendees of the 2020 Conference of the Fellowship of Saint Moses the Black, I congratulate all of the conference organizers, and I ask for God’s mercies and blessings upon the work of the conference. May the Holy Spirit guide you all to greater wisdom and understanding!
This conference meets at a very difficult moment in American history. Our country, politically polarized for some years now, was hit with the horrible COVID-19 pandemic in the early spring of 2020, and this caused pain, suffering, and loss. But it was in the late spring of 2020 that something much more evil happened: the torturous murder of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin in a city street in broad daylight.
When we see a man murder another man, when we see a brother murder his brother, we think of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were two brothers, the first two brothers to ever exist. When Cain gave a lower quality sacrifice, God was better pleased with Abel. This difference provoked Cain to jealousy and hatred, and he murdered his brother in the field, out in the open, in broad daylight.
This evil of murder, this evil of brother killing brother, is the first sin after the fall of Adam and Eve. And what sin can be greater than murder? The murder of a brother, the murder of one of a different race, the murder of an unborn child, are all abhorrent. For all of us are equal children of our Father in Heaven, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of the Spirit He has given us.
And this is why we must protest the great evil of hatred and murder. We must let our speech be heard, to build up and edify our fellow children of God. We must let our voices ring out, so that the Gospel which unites all humankind in Christ may be heard. We must let our light so shine before men, so that they may see our good works, so that they may recognize their Father who is in Heaven, and glorify Him for the gifts of unity, fellowship, and communion that He has given to all.
Concerning our spiritual life, we must not only condemn every kind of murder and hatred that we see around us, but we must individually endeavor to uproot any traces of murder and hatred that lie within us; for we cannot change what is out of our control, but we can change what is within our control. Each of us must recognize that we too have failed in many ways, that we too have been led astray by the lies of the Serpent, and that we too have become subject to death in our sins. If we strive to be honest with ourselves, we see that we do not love one another as we should, that we have not reached out to our neighbor, and that we have not made reconciliation with our fellows, who are children of God with us.
When we do this, when we make this personal, individual battle to uproot the sin within us, we become less like Cain and more like Abel. We find the kingdom of God that is within us, and becoming bearers of the light of Christ, Christ will shine out from within us, and bring greater unity and peace to the world, bit by bit.
May we always be encouraged by the word of our Lord, in the same night that He was given up to be slain, when He said:
The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:32-33)
Despite the tribulations in the world, may we always focus on the one thing needful, and be of good cheer. For our Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world, and if we make space for Him to abide within our hearts, we will learn to see one another as the children of God that we are, and will spread this message of unity to the world.
With Archpastoral blessings and prayers on your behalf, I remain,
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America