Xristos Anesti! Christ is Risen!
Last week, I had the blessing of speaking to the parents and contestants of the 2013 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival for the Atlanta Metropolis. We discussed topics like being Modern Day Apostles, Practicing the Jesus Prayer and Creating a Home Church. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the response my presentation received. It’s nice to know that what I say out loud actually makes sense to someone other than myself.
It was such a pleasure meeting all of the contestants and their families. God bless the parents for encouraging and supporting their children with their spiritual efforts. That is such a big deal! And it is apparent through each one of them. Watching them gave me such hope for the futures of my own children. Hearing them talk about things their parents did at home while they were little and what sort of things stand out in their minds as important, really made me think and gave me the encouragement I need as a mother of three young children; a push to keep going. It whispered, “Keep pressing forward. One day this will all be worth it.” I’m always surprised when people invite me to speak because I always bring home more than I could ever offer. And for that, I am so grateful.
Ace wanted to come with me to help with my presentation and listen to the students. So, he filled folders with a handout I created (can be downloaded for free below), some bookmarks and pens. It was great for him to be there. I think seeing older kids taking their faith seriously, really gave him something to think about. He watched and listened to them pretty intensely. I had also brought some prayer ropes for the contestants that Metropolitan Alexios passed out. Since then, Ace has been doing his prayer rope more often without me asking him to. I wonder if maybe by my talking to others about the importance of the Jesus Prayer, it made more of an impression on him. I tend to get a little preachy at home, so hearing all of those things indirectly may really have proven more effective.
I was totally caught off guard by the impact the student’s essays had on me. I was literally in tears through most of them. The level of awareness of Orthodoxy and God’s teachings that these kids had literally stunned me. Honestly, they had a clearer idea than many adults. They are not deterred by things of this world, they realize that these things are nothing and are working toward a greater prize.
I cannot say enough about them. They were one phenomenal group of kids, that’s all I can say. Each and every one of them will have a positive impact on the world if they continue the path they are on right now. I don’t know how the judges chose, it would have been impossible for me. Every essay, even the ones on the same topic, were so completely different and conveyed such powerful messages. I wish I could have recorded them for DH to hear and for Ace to hear again.
Giving my presentation:
Metropolitan Alexios passing prayer ropes out to the Junior Division:
Metropolitan Alexios and me:
Junior Division (plus a photo bomb by Ace, lol):
Senior Division Contestant (and winner) Sarah Hunt:
It was such a great experience that I feel very blessed to have been a part of. I look forward to seeing who wins the National Finals coming up in June. Good luck to everyone and it was a pleasure meeting all of you!
Also, if you’re interested in seeing the handout I distributed, it can be downloaded here: Modern Apostles Handout