November 2 and 3, 2013 His Grace, Bp. Michael visited to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the parish. It was a grand day! The altar was packed to the gills with 14 (1 bishop, 2 priests, sub-deacons, readers and altar servers). One young man, the one in white in the front, served for the very first time. And a fine job he did! The Nave was nearly shoulder to shoulder with people. Aside from Pascha, it was the fullest I’ve ever seen the place.
The Gospel reading for the day was Luke 8:41-56 and included the story of Jarius’ daughter who died while Jesus was speaking to the woman with the issue of blood.
His Grace spoke of two deaths. One is spiritual death. He said we have control over it by our choice of accepting Life from Christ or denying. It is in our hands. The other death he said is known as being “asleep in the Lord.” This death was redefined by Christ’s action on the cross. It was trampled down by Him. One day He will awaken our bodies from that “sleep”.
His Grace recounted his own suffering and brush with death many years ago. He was involved in a devastating automobile accident, hit by a drunk driver, in which his beloved wife was killed on impact and in which he was rendered comatose for three months. He went on to say, “They debated whether the plug to the life support machines should be disconnected. My very good friend, a young priest at the time, came to the hospital to pray and anoint me with holy oil. His prayers, united with his faith, brought me out of the coma and to life again.”
That “very good friend” and “young priest” was none other than Fr. David Moriak, now His Grace, Bishop Matthias (retired). Bp. Matthias’ faith in God, prayers to Him and love for his friend drove him to the act which God saw fit to bless and restored his friend to ‘life’. We have much to thank God for because if it were not for Bp. Matthias we would not have Bp. Michael. To this day, they remain close friends and brothers in Christ.
As the anniversary luncheon concluded, Bp. Michael addressed the crowded fellowship hall. He said, “So many have come to Liturgy and this wonderful luncheon. I challenge you to this. Come to church for Christ. Not to see the bishop.”
Life eternal. Christ. Salvation. God’s love. Come to church for those reasons. And be blessed.