20th Annual Diocesan Days Continues

Day One | Day Two | Day Three

              20th Annual Diocesan Days - Day TwoJackson, CA - Saturday, September 3, 2016 – Chanting, the ancient melodies and hymns in glory and honor of the Holy Apostle Thaddeus whose memory the church commemorated on Saturday, 3 September, resonated through the crisp morning air. It came from the makeshift chapel under the tent at the St. Sava campgrounds and the morning Matins that prayerfully marked the start of the second day of this year’s Diocesan Days celebration. While the clergy filed in one by one, they received a blessing from their bishop and spiritual father, His Grace Maxim. During the course of the Matins service the clergy vested and gathered once more around their bishop for the start of the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” His Grace stood before the altar and announced to the gathered faithful. “Whenever we celebrate one of the Apostles, as we do today, we remember that they went out to preach the gospel and they preached exactly this dimension of our salvation, that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, it is here with us in our Eucharistic gathering and celebration.”

               A reception for the clergy followed the liturgy after which the clergy and faithful gathered at the main hall for lunch.  Towards the end of lunch the guest speaker, Dr. Bogdan Lubardic, delivered an address entitled: Learning with St. John: How are we to understand and overcome death – on the Mystery of the Raising of Lazurus. Professor Lubardic noted that the gospel is not a sentimental narrative but it is filled with meaning and should subsequently be read with the search for a deeper meaning of the text. This is precisely what he did in recounting the episode of the Raising of Lazarus found in St. John’s Gospel which is a lesson in overcoming death through the confession of faith, the repentant shedding of tears in order to be seated with Him. It was Lazarus who sat with Jesus in the gospel narrative and many of the Jews came not only to see Jesus but to see Lazarus whom angier 1609 20th diocesan days 02 1076aJesus had raised from the dead. This seemingly small detail in the narrative of the Raising of Lazarus played a major part in the professor’s talk as he pointed to this seating, this presence with Christ at the breaking of bread of the Holy Eucharist which is a foretaste of the Heavenly Kingdom. In the presence, and the participation of the Eucharist, we overcome death.

              Immediately after this talk the clergy and faithful made their made to the St Sava Church hall where the Annual Diocesan Assembly was held.  Of course, the campgrounds were not left completely abandoned, as there were soccer games and youth activities that lasted all afternoon until the time allotted for Vespers. Protopresbyter Nikola Ceko served Vespers, assisted by Deacon Paul Germain and the beautifully voices of our visiting seminarians from Prizren Seminary.

               That evening, as everyone gathered in the main hall once more for dinner, Jasmina Boulanger, Vice President of the Diocesan Council, took to the microphone for a surprise announcement; a surprise for the bishop. She recalled how ten years ago the Western American Diocese received a wonderful gift at the enthronement of their then newly appointed Bishop of Western America, His Grace Maxim.  The members of the Diocesan Council wanted to mark this occasion with a gift to the bishop as a token of not just their appreciation but a sign of the love the entire Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America has for their dear Bishop Maxim. Upon opening the gift everyone in the hall rose to their feet in applause and loudly and joyously sang “Mnogaja Ljeta”.

               Live music and dancing followed and lasted until late in the evening.