There are only two people in my life who use the term “Dear Ones.”
The first is my father when he sends out letters to all the family – five children and their spouses and 17 grandchildren (plus a few more spouses). It is a fatherly greeting, one that warms me every time I read it. I read those words and I know this truth: we are dear to my father, the dearest thing he has beyond my mom. We are loved — absolutely and completely.
The second is my priest in this new journey of Orthodoxy. This is how Father Patrick of Holy Resurrection Church addresses us in his newsletters or email updates.
“Dear Ones” he says and then goes into the message. Sometimes it’s a quote from a Church Father on how to love God; other times it’s an exhortation or an encouragement; still other times it’s a reminder on why we have a certain tradition and what it means.
And each time I read the words “Dear ones” it warms my heart.
As a priest, he sees us as his “Dear ones.” We are beloved by God, and loved and cared for by our Priest as our spiritual father. We are his “Dear Ones.”
In my long journey of faith, I have never had a pastor use those terms. It is a gift to hear those words in relation to learning more of how the Church is critical to this journey.
“Dear Ones” “Dear Friends” “Dear Children” – these words are used over and over in the books of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. This term of endearment softens any admonition, it prefaces any advice or challenge with this one truth: We are the speaker’s “dear ones.”
And if my father and my priest, who are not God but love God, can use those words with the ones they love, those they care for, how much more must I be a “Dear One” to God? Somehow through these men, leaders and spiritual examples in my life, I am better able to understand that at my worst, I am still God’s “Dear One.”
Blogger’s Note: This picture came across my twitter feed yesterday and it struck me as appropriate to this post.
Incredible image from Ukraine of Orthodox priests standing between pro-European Union activists and police pic.twitter.com/IUygfii0tt
— HuffPostUK Pic Desk (@HuffPostUKPics) January 24, 2014