Athens, OH 7 November 2017 –
This past Sunday, the Ohio University Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) was blessed to celebrate the Divine Liturgy served by His Grace, Bishop Paul of the Orthodox Church in America, with the St. Ephraim’s chapel community in Athens, OH.
It was an unseasonably warm, bright, and colorful November morning as members of the community formally welcomed His Grace with traditional gifts. The parish community brought forth bread and salt, a symbol of hospitality in eastern Europe, while the youth of the church presented flowers. Although the OCF has not been around long enough to have a “traditional” gift of its own, we brought forth fresh fruit for His Grace as a symbol that the OCF is a fruit of the labors of the church community which also aims to be fruitful in growing the faith of college students.
As the Divine Liturgy was served, the chapel itself was filled with a special warmth and beauty as community members of all ages and backgrounds came together to joyfully worship our Lord. The incense was especially sweet, the clergy’s vestments shown as with the light of Christ, and the choir offered up beautifully embellished hymns of praise — all to remind us that the Lord is always in our midst.
As college students, it can be so difficult (yet is imperative) to look past the ever-present mountains of school work and social pressures. But it is by doing so that we may be reminded of the Kingdom of God. Only then will we regain our eternal perspective and be renewed in our pursuits to serve our God and our neighbors with love.
Thankfully, our community blessed us with an opportunity to do just that. At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, everyone was invited to a luncheon served in honor of His Grace. This was a time of fellowship and relaxation that could not have been more timely — our second round of midterms just ended! We all left the event closer in friendship and renewed in spirit.
The OCF is a relatively new student organization on campus that my fiancé and I work closely with and are excited to see growing. The opportunity to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with one of the patriarchs of the Church (who came all the way from Chicago, IL) was a wonderful signal that though we may be a small community, we are always a part of something much larger.