Stories of conflict and division are rapidly consuming more and more of our collective attention as the nation barrels toward another Presidential election. Headlines feed us stories of suspicion and mistrust. Social media lets us curate and edit the stories we hear from our online communities, and allows us to block our so-called “friends” at the click of a button. Stories that separate us from each other are amplified, while stories that unite us are lost in the chaos.
During these divided times, we are reminded to be grateful for what binds us together. Is there a story powerful enough to unite us in both times of joy and struggle? As Christians, our faith points us to find the answer to this question in the story of the gift of Christ’s Cross.
When we view life through the context of The Cross, the things that divide us fade away and we can more easily be grateful for what unites us. “The Cross of the Lord is unpleasant and sorrowful to the ear, but it consists of joy and gladness,” St. John Chrysostom reminds us. Embracing the gift of Christ’s Cross allows us to co-suffer with others in times of need and also reminds us to celebrate with others in times of joy.
Saint Ephraim the Syrian tells us:
“The Cross is the resurrection of the dead. The Cross is the hope of Christians. The Cross is the staff for the lame. The Cross is the comfort of the poor. The Cross is the deposing of the proud. The Cross is the hope of those who despair. The Cross is the bread for the hungry, a fountain for the thirsty. The Cross is the clothing for the naked…”
We are grateful to you for all you have done to make stories like these possible:
Hope of Christians
Over the past six months, Gabby has relied on Youth Equipped to Serve to connect with and serve her community during COVID. Virtual YES trips teach young people about servant leadership, and equip participants with the courage to embrace the call to live out the Gospel every day.
“YES has made an amazing impact on my life over the past few months and has definitely shifted my mind into a more positive way of thinking. I learned to be more thankful even during these tough times and stay hopeful.” -Gabby
Bread for the Hungry
FOCUS Volunteers in Southern California have united this year in a huge way, together distributing 1,480,294 pounds of food to over 250,000 individuals in the region. Thanks to your support, thousands of people experiencing hunger in FOCUS communities across the country can share in the comfort of a meal.
“A life of service is a meaningful life, and serving with Orange County has brought meaning to my life. As difficult physically as it is sometimes, as difficult emotionally as it is sometimes… this is what Christ commands us to do and that pain gets turned into joy.” -Stella Georgoulis
Comfort of the Poor
FOCUS is joining forces with Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s Homeless Ministry. Annunciation’s ministry is part of a larger pan-Orthodox outreach effort in Philadelphia where volunteers prepare and serve a hot meal for people experiencing hunger and homelessness every week. Together with FOCUS in October, Annunciation’s outreach will include backpacks filled with hygiene items including hand sanitizer and masks alongside their meal – a small comfort to those living on the streets.
“When the decision was announced that Philadelphia area schools would be virtual this year because of COVID, the Homeless Ministry at Annunciation was very grateful and excited to be able to pivot the FOCUS backpack program and fill backpacks with essential items for the homeless.” -Angela Godshall