"Leaping up with joy,
let us and all the faithful cry aloud today;
How marvelous are your works, O Christ!
How great is your might!
For you have made us of one mind
and brought about our agreement."
(From the First Ode of Matins)
To all the Clergy and the Laity of the Holy Orthodox Church in the Americas Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the tone of unity in Christ sounded by this hymn of our Holy Church we greet you on this Sunday of Orthodoxy. Truly, this is a day upon which we celebrate the triumph of our Orthodox faith over the forces that have sought to diminish it. It is also a day upon which we affirm our unity in tradition, worship, and faith and our oneness of mind as the Body of Christ. We do this as a witness of true unity in a world that is constantly divided by geographical, social, economic, racial, cultural, and religious barriers that are often the result of hatred, prejudice, greed, and ignorance. As the Church, the Ekklesia, those who are called and who gather in the name of our Lord, our task is to reveal the true, eternal unity that is built upon faith, love, and the peace of God.
We manifest this unity through the essential elements of our Holy Tradition that have been revealed through the Holy Scriptures and confirmed through the Ecumenical Councils, the holy lives of the Saints and Martyrs, the writings of the Fathers, and through the diakonia of the Church to a world in need of guidance and truth. Specifically, on this day we celebrate the restoration of the use of icons in our worship and affirm the proper theological understanding of their role in the life and faith of the people. This shared use of icons, along with all of the elements of our Holy Tradition used in both our communal and personal prayer, confirms the unity we are accorded as "God's chosen ones" (Colossians 3:12).
In speaking about "God's chosen ones," the Apostle Paul offers precisely the basis of true unity. While it may be visible in our Holy Tradition--"let the word of Christ dwell in you richly"--and in our worship--"sing songs and hymns and spiritual odes with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16)--ultimately our unity is rooted in the faith that "seeks the things that are above, where Christ is," and "thinks the things that are above" (Colossians 3:1-2). Such faith transforms our lives and renews us in the image of Him who created us as we "put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony," and as we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, "to which indeed we were called in the one body" (Colossians 3:14-15).
May we love one another so that in one mind we may confess the unity that flows from the Holy Trinity, one in essence and inseparable.
With paternal blessings and love in Christ,
Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Metropolitan JOSEPH, Secretary
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos,
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Orthodox Church in America
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada
Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA