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My Big Fat Greek Festival

October 3rd, 2011 by Fr. Vasile

Reposting this older article as we get closer to the 30th Greek Festival in Eules, October 7,8,9 2011.

Festival page here

We just closed the doors of another Greek Festival at Saint John’s. We are all happy, but tired, and some may think, and we cannot blame them, why we do this every year? A short answer would be: we need the money! And it is a good answer, but maybe we could find other ways to raise the needed funds. Still I think, even though we might manage to get there, we should continue doing the festival. And I will present my argument for it.

In the present times the American society has an identity crisis. Most people have a hard time defining even what makes them American: the simple fact of living in the USA or speaking English or eating steaks? It is not an easy answer.  It is even more difficult for the people that come from an ethnic background. Because it is apparent that we cannot give a unique answer to this question, we tend to accept more and more that maybe we shouldn’t even try to find a unique answer, but we should rather accept the multicultural complexity of our world.

However, even if we may not be able to define ourselves as a nation, we can do this at a community level. We have to do this exercise because if we do not know who we are, we will find ourselves somewhat lost in space and time, without roots and without a direction for advancement.

So who are we at Saint John’s in Euless? Many of us are Greek by descent, and this is why we are called a Greek Orthodox Church; but others are not. So how can we define ourselves? As a contemporary Greek theologian was writing, what makes the Greeks to be Greek it is not a place of birth, but is rather a mode of life that, throughout the centuries and despite the occupations and struggles, was shared and preserved, and eventually incorporated in the ecclesiastical Orthodoxy. This is one thing we all have in common: the Orthodox faith.

Orthodox faith is not just another Christian denomination, but Orthodox Christianity is a way of life: Greek or not we fast together, we pray together we all partake of the same Eucharist during the Holy Liturgy. We are first of all a community of Faith; we are members of the One Church of Jesus Christ and here, as Saint Apostle Paul says: “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave or freeman, but Christ is all things in all.” (Colossians 3:11) We belong to the new people of God; we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. This way of life makes us at Saint John’s to be all alike.

The Greek Festival gives us an extraordinary opportunity to rediscover this shared identity and reinforce our ties within the congregation. During a weekend at least, we all work together, we endure the heat together but we also rejoice together. And year after year we keep doing the same because we need to constantly remind ourselves of this identity so we can offer it down to our children.

So, as you can see, in the end we are all Greek! Ooopah!

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4 responses so far ↓

  • The problem I see with the festival is that the focus was on Secular Greekness, and not on the Faith. None of the stores in the tent were selling Orthodox Bibles, Icons, Prayer ropes and I saw no introduction to the faith.

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    • There are two parts to the festivals, as there are two parts to every man: body and soul. We had the food and the dancing but also we had about 6 different Church tours in total for the weekend lasting about one hours each, explaining a little of the Orthodox faith to those interested, we also had a full offering of books and religious items associated with this activity. Yes, we did not had them under the tent, was crowded there anyway, in the current conditions, but those who were interested found also food for their souls in our festival. Each year I speak in these tours with over 2-300 people and some come back and few even convert. We try to offer as much as we can, keeping also in mind that too much at once can be scary for some. Peace and joy into the Lord!

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  • @Nik, by the way I read from your blog tonight, quite an interesting mixture of information, I like it. Btw, I used to be a world traveler too and have spent time looking for and even serving in various Orthodox Churches in Asia. Maybe one day we can sit down and tell travel stories. I’d love to meet (formally) your family also. Maybe after the next Vespers we see each other.

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    • Father, Bless! It seems that more people have attended Vespers and Daily Liturgies since the Festival, so I hope that helped. I was actually hoping to by an Orthodox Study Bible at the Festival for a friend who is in need of a new Bible.

      I would love to sit down formally with you outside of Confession sometime when we all have time. Sorry Daniel can be so loud at Vespers.

      Kissing your right hand,
      -Nicholas

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