Tuesday, November 11, 2014
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During this holiday season, many of us are turning our thoughts to welcoming beloved family and friends into our homes, to share with them the best that we have to offer, and to share our gratitude for the many blessings our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us.
As we prepare to open our homes to guests who are dear to us, please consider welcoming one more guest into your heart with whom to share your blessings.
Sharing Christ’s love with our brothers and sisters in need and caring for them in the same way that we would wish to be cared for lifts us all closer to Him, and expands the reach of His Kingdom. This “hands-on” expression of our faith is how International Orthodox Christian Charities, or IOCC, puts Orthodoxy into action daily, tirelessly responding to Christ’s call to help our neighbors in need without discrimination.
IOCC, which serves as the humanitarian arm of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States America, has been sharing the compassion of the Orthodox faithful with those in need since 1992. With the generous support of our church parishes, IOCC has delivered nearly $500 million in humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families and communities in more than 50 countries. Through IOCC’s close work with the Church, almost two million Syrian people either displaced or living as refugees have received relief to help ease their suffering as a result of the current war; impoverished parents in Greece have access to fresh, nutritious food and medical care for their children; struggling farmers in the West Bank are learning new ways to grow cash crops and rise out of poverty, and survivors of epic flooding in Serbia and Bosnia have the supplies and tools needed to restore their damaged homes.
St. James wrote, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-26) We are called upon, in Christ’s name, to care for those who are suffering in the face of poverty, war or natural disaster. By sharing today with the "least of our brothers”, we reveal the truth of our love, compassion, faith, courage, and commitment to our relationship with our Lord.
May this blessed season fill you and your family with the Holy Spirit, and join you in love and harmony as you celebrate the blessings of our merciful God during Thanksgiving and always.
With paternal blessing and love in Christ,
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America