Over the first 3 1/2 years of ministry of St. Anianus, we have seen God do remarkable things. He has healed countless people of sins that have kept them in bondage for years. He has brought a diverse group of people together to form a community focused on sharing the love of Christ with each other and anyone who God brings our way. And He has humbled us every step of the way, reminding a small Church family of His love and providence, and that His grace truly is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9) His Loving and Guiding Hands have been present in some pretty BIG STUFF, after all God has been doing great things since the beginning of time.
We Closed Today
Today another BIG THING happened! St. Anianus Coptic Orthodox Church purchased a beautiful piece of land, which God led us to just 6 months ago. WE CLOSED TODAY! As I shared with a friend of mine about this “big thing” God had brought to fruition, she reminded me that it was actually a relatively SMALL THING in comparison to the BIG STUFF He has been doing, afterall “the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48) but in you and me, who He decided to make “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19) and transform us “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18) into His image. “Fair enough,” I thought, “but today is still a great day!” St. Anianus Church took the next step in Putting Down Roots in Monroe Township, NJ. Small thing? Certainly in comparison to the big things of changing lives. But let’s be clear on something:
Small Things Do Not Mean Unimportant or Non-Essential
In fact, God uses “small things” to bless and transform, as we seek Him. Today is the Feast of the Ascension in the Orthodox Church, when we celebrate the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to heaven, 40 days after His Resurrection from the dead. My Hope? That God would use this “small thing” in order to accomplish some BIG THINGS in our lives.
One of the things I love about the the Coptic Church is that we begin every prayer – whether it is a Baptism or Eucharist, Wedding or Funeral, Unction of the Sick or the Agpeya (Book of Hours) – with the same Prayer of Thanksgiving. Why is that? The teaching of scripture! “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) With thanks due all-around, I would like to give thanks to:
God: The Most High is truly worthy of all thanks. God’s presence in the Big and the Small things of life, make this life a heavenly experience. “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12)
Coptic Clergy: The loving support of the Coptic Clergy over the past several months has been beyond imaginable. From the blessings of His Holiness Pope Tawadrous II, to the encouragement of His Grace Bishop Karas – who helped through every step of the process – to the moral support and financial gifts of the Coptic Orthodox Priests (over 20 Coptic clergy in New Jersey alone personally supported St. Anianus during the campaign, along with countless others throughout the US), I am grateful to God for granting me to serve with such a supportive group of Christ-loving servants.
Ministry Team: By the grace of God, today was a smooth and easy closing. As I sat at the table preparing to sign the closing documents, I realized that a big part of the reason for how seamless everything has been is due in large part to the incredible ministry team God assembled at St. Anianus. Before we began the closing, I mentioned to the team members present, “Every NBA team would love to have Steph Curry on their team. For the 29 teams NOT named the Golden State Warriors, they’re not so thrilled to be on the court with him.” (OK, so for full disclosure, I actually said LeBron James, but just did not want to put his picture up. So, sue me!) Anyway, our fundraising committee, real estate professionals, Church treasurer, legal team, and prayer warriors, you have all been an integral part of making today so blessed. I give thanks for you!
Each of You:The generosity each of you have offered, with your prayers(which seasoned each step with the grace of God), your encouragement (lifting up our spirits), and your financial gifts(over 400 unique donations from all over the world), is beyond what we could imagine. Thank you all!
Today I share all of this with you in order to encourage you! Invite God into the Big and Small things! Give thanks to Him and the amazing people He brings into your life every step of the way! And learn to stand together and support one another – not only in the”big things” and during the good times – but also in the”small stuff” and when things are tough.