We, as young Orthodox Christians, living in this multi-ethnic, multi-faith and pluralistic society of the United Kingdom, often have several friends and classmates belonging to other Christian churches and faith groups. The late Hierarch of Switzerland, Aimilianos, writing on the theme of the Orthodox Church’s relations with other faith traditions and wider society, states: ‘Truth needs sharing!’ These simple yet profound words perhaps summarise the openness, the embrace and the dialogue we are called to cultivate as Orthodox Christians.
Our closest friends at our schools and universities may well be of another Christian tradition, or perhaps of another faith group altogether. Surely, living in such a diverse society and setting, is for us a gift, an opportunity to understand, share and learn from our neighbours. We undoubtedly believe that the fullness of truth and the experience of the Triune God is lived and indeed present within the Orthodox Church, however, we can simultaneously recognise elements of this Truth – the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6) – in other traditions, practices and in their actions of philanthropy.
With this in mind, as our friends of both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions currently celebrate Holy Week and Easter, perhaps we can think of ways in which we can cooperate with them, joining forces in order to unite our voices. We may want to work together in the area of charity, of caring for those in need, or raising awareness regarding matters of physical and mental wellbeing. As His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, states: ‘Christian unity and a common approach to the great modern problems is not only a current request but also a command of the Founder of the Church.’ (Jn 17:22-23) Let us as young Orthodox Christians, therefore work together with our fellow Christian believers, particularly in difficult times and in our context where secular values prevail. Let us wish our Western Christian friends a Blessed Easter, not only by our words but primarily by our love and cooperation in Christ, for ‘, ‘by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ (Jn 13:35)
Visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Permanent Delegation to the World Council of Churches – working towards further Christian unity and understanding in a world of division: www.ecupatria.org