Nativity Message from Father Alexander
With the advent of Nativity Lent, we already hear the joyous refrains of “Christ is born, glorify Him! Christ cometh from Heaven, meet ye Him!” during the Vigil services, reminding us that the year is coming to an end and a new one is beginning. Lent is always a time for reflection and prayer, but also an opportunity to “take stock” by counting our blessings and seeing where we are on our spiritual path—especially at the beginning of a new year. To be sure, each year has its “ups and downs,” and this year has been no exception. Nevertheless, we still have much to be grateful for here in Santa Rosa.
To speak of “lows” this past year, one in particular comes to mind: the unsuccessful closure of our cemetery project. After ten years of work and significant costs, the project was doomed by the impossible expenses associated with the mitigation of special plant and animal species. When we embarked on this project years ago, we understood from the start that if this project were to be in accordance with God’s will, it would succeed. We persevered through many obstacles over the years in the knowledge that few things of value come without great difficulty. In the end, however, the aforementioned impossible costs seemed to be a clear indication to us of God’s intent in this regard. To try to force the issue further would be to risk bankrupting our parish—something that I truly believe would not have been well pleasing to God. From this point, the Sts. Peter & Paul Fund LLC, together with our Parish Council, are working on the best possible disposition of the property with the intention of covering all costs associated with the project, paying back loans from the Russian-American Women’s League, and it is hoped, realizing a net profit to the parish.
Indeed, however, much has been successfully accomplished for which we should be truly grateful. Several years ago, we laid out a plan of major capital improvements to our church building and surrounding property. I called upon our parishioners and friends to concentrate our fundraising activities around this plan, and I cannot find the words to express how grateful I am to all who answered that call with such great efforts and incredible generosity. Thanks to these efforts, we have completed and paid for almost all of the major projects we had envisioned several years back. Only a few details are still outstanding with regard to preparing the church for its full Consecration, and those, God willing, should be completed within the next few months.
Now that the cemetery project has closed, our major capital projects and expenditures are done, and our parish financial situation is stable, I believe it is time to go back to dedicating more of our time and fundraising efforts toward the charitable activities we have supported in the past. Our Russian Church Abroad has an excellent fundraising and charitable organization (the Fund for Assistance of ROCOR) through which we have channeled thousands of dollars in relief to Ukrainian refugees, hurricane and earthquake relief in Haiti, Mexico, and elsewhere, support for our ROCOR youth groups, missions, and other worthy causes. We were very successful in our 2017–2020 Wine Country Fire Relief fund, and I look forward to giving assistance to people in need on a local level as such needs may arise. Our Heavenly Father has rewarded our efforts with unprecedented success. Glory be to Him for this, and now, let us turn our attention to those in need to help in any way we can.
As we reflect upon this past year and prepare for the new one, it is good for each of us to learn from the ups and downs of the last few years, to remember the mistakes we made, the good things we should have done but didn’t, and, most important, the promises we made to God to do our best to be better Christians this year and every year. Let us, indeed, consider these things and truly show our appreciation to Our Lord for His unending patience with us by celebrating Him during the Divine Liturgy in our church, going to Holy Confession and receiving the most precious gifts of Holy Communion. Let us do more than just make a New Year’s resolution to be better, but as we hear in the Divine Liturgy, truly “commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ Our God.” The celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity gives us yet another opportunity to recommit ourselves to our faith in Him. We have seen the benefits of such faith. May we make ourselves more worthy to receive those benefits even more bountifully in the coming year.