This is our fourth newsletter discussing orderly matters in our church. I pray that you are enjoying this series as much as I am. This month we are going to discuss property. When I say property, I mean to deal with/care for our church property, including the buildings, icons, pews, grass areas, etc. in a Christian way. When I speak of property, I am speaking of temporal goods, movable and immovable items. The proper objective of these temporal goods or properties is to provide support for worship, ministry, and charitable work. Therefore, we can look at these temporal goods as ecclesiastical goods. Of course, we all know that the church buildings, icons, and altar vessels are ecclesiastical goods because they are used during worship, are consecrated, prayed upon, and anointed with Holy Chrism. The church buildings and icons have very special importance that we not only respect, but we treat well because they offer us blessings. The scriptures speak to us about the consecration of the tabernacle…saying, “Also Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them” (Lev 8:10). Everything in the tabernacle was consecrated and, therefore, dedicated to God. The tabernacle was not to be handled in a sloppy way. It was to be carried by specially selected Levites, who handled the tabernacle in a certain way and walked in a specific order. The reverence given to the tabernacle was an expression of the reverence the Levites offered to God. Similarly, we offer respect to the church buildings and all the properties inside as a sign of reverence to God because they are consecrated to the worship of God. For this reason, food (including Chips, gum, cookies, etc.) and drinks (Soda, Coffee, etc.) are not allowed in the church buildings because they are a place of worship.
Iwill extend this further to items/areas outside of the church buildings, such as the playground, parking lot, basketball court, grass areas and anything that is not officially consecrated. Although all these items/areas are not consecrated and are not used directly in the service, we must respect them and treat them properly. This is simply the Christian way to treat property and show good citizenship by keeping and maintaining our common items/areas. It’s a matter of stewardship to keep and maintain property in which we worship. I am not talking about civil behavior that governs our attitude towards church property, but rather, a true Christian attitude, which reflects good citizenship. The scriptures call upon us to “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities…Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Rom 13:1-7). We understand that citizenship is part of who we are as a person and that we are to be good citizens in the world, especially within the church and towards its properties. The Ten Commandments tell us, “Thou shall not steal;” this commandment means to not deprive someone from their property. The church buildings and all of its contents belong to God and are cared for by the congregation. When we vandalize, misuse or abuse the church properties, we break this commandment as we deprive others from its full and proper use. It is also a waist of the church’s financial resources as the church attempts to replace or fix what has been vandalized. These financial resources could be used for other much needed services. Caring for the church properties is an active way to keep us all connected, not just as a group of people who practice the same religion, but as a real community that shares and takes care of their church properties together. As true orthodox Christian, we should not have a violent or destructive spirit, or express hostility towards any property, including the church property. I believe if our congregation starts to participate more in serving one another and in serving the church, we will develop a sense of ownership, respect, gratitude, and honor towards the church and its properties. Above all, we will obtain the spirit of joy and humility.