Acts in the Spirit of Christ's Love
|Volume 13, No. 1
At Pascha, the feast of all feasts, we joyously gather in our churches for that beautiful moment when we can sing the hymn of all hymns:
Christ is risen from the dead by death trampling on death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life.
But the question we wake up with is, "Now what?" How do we take the truth of the resurrection and incorporate it into our daily existence? How do we let the world know that Christ is indeed risen?
Hamena and Mukhel are teenage brothers in the village of Wolyto in Ethiopia. As Orthodox Christians they heard the words, Christ is Risen! But when their parents died from AIDS they were forced to live homeless, with barely enough to survive. Their lives were filled with fear and darkness, and the resurrection of Christ seemed far away from their world. If we are honest, we too have to admit that once the hoopla dies down, the resurrection of Christ can seem far away for us as well.
The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, understands our difficulty. Just as the Church prepares us for Pascha with a period of fasting and special readings, so too, after Pascha the Church introduces into the liturgical cycle the Acts of the Apostles.
How appropriate that it is named Acts because it is about the work and life changing actions of the Apostles and their followers in response to Christ's Resurrection. In Chapter 1, Christ instructs the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit, and then they will be His witnesses to the whole world. In Chapter 6, we read that the Apostles eventually choose seven deacons to help with the daily distribution to the poor. Christ's work continues through the Apostles.
The time after Pascha is the period of Acts in a time for action. After we proclaim, "Christ is risen!" we are to live as little risen christs in our daily actions. Like the Apostles we are empowered by the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) to continue Christ's work and to serve the needy of the community like the deacons.
Hamena and Mukhel are still orphans, but they experienced the reality of Christ's resurrection through IOCC when they became part of an IOCC program in Ethiopia that gave them $80 in start-up capital for a small business. They bought a ping-pong table and charged other children a few cents to play. They were so successful that they also bought a foosball table. Today, they are self-sufficient, with a place to call home, enough food to eat, and the chance to go to school. After the pain and uncertainty of their parent's death, Hamena and Mukhel have been resurrected. The impetus for that change was you and everyone who supports the work and mission of IOCC. Your daily Christ-like actions make the words, "Christ is Risen!" a reality, not only in your own life, but for children like Hamena and Mukhel.