St. Luke Core Values
By Pearl Homiak
St. Luke parishioners both love God and our fellow man. This was
underscored when the results of our Core Values Survey were tabulated and reported
(The Evangelist, Summer 2002). But how do we fulfill these core values? To determine this
various members of St. Luke parish have gathered on Sundays after Liturgy to "flesh out"
the core values. We will present the results of these discussions in the next five issues
of The Evangelist.
I. Putting God at the Center of All We Do
What We Know About God. God has a multitude of characteristics, and we
found that the more we tried to describe Him, the more difficult it became. We all know He
is greater than us. Yet, more than that we know that He is omnipotent (almighty and
all-powerful), absolute, and awesome, as well as changeless and perfect. He is holy,
divine, eternal, wisdom, and love, while at the same time being loving, forgiving, just,
generous, and merciful.
We agree that God is visible and invisible, as well as judging and the
performer of miracles. God is everywhere and yet a mystery. He is One God yet Trinity, the
alpha-omega (beginning and end), the Way, and the Light. God is Truth, and He saves our
souls. He is our Creator, Savior, Protector, Shepherd, and Listener. And this is only a
Because it is impossible to really know God (to say what He is), the
Orthodox Church characterizes Him in negative terms (what God isn't, called apophatic
theology): ineffable (unutterable, inexpressible, unspeakable, indescribable, indefinable),
inconceivable (unthinkable, unimaginable, unenvisionable), and incomprehensible.
How Do We Know This About God? We first learn about God through human
relationships: loving and being loved, joy, sharing, and bearing each other's burdens. But
this is only the beginning. "We love [God] because He first loved us" (I John 4:19), and
we come to know God through faith (belief, trust, and loyalty). Sometimes we learn this
the hard way, such as when wilfullness overtakes common sense. Some of us experience true
miracles, perhaps through an unexpected healing. But all of us can continually increase our
knowledge of God through prayer and meditation, as well as reading and reflecting on the
Bible and other spiritual literature. (It's a lot easier to deeply love someone you know
than someone you don't know).How Do We Put God in the Center of All We Do? Surprisingly, the ways
are numberless. The most obvious way to put God in the forefront is through prayer. We are
actually called to pray constantly (I Thessalonians 5:17). Although this may seem
impossible, it becomes more probable as daily focus on God increases.
Prayer and meditation can be done anywhere-at home (morning, mealtime,
evening), at work [try bathroom breaks at 9 AM (the Third Hour), 12 Noon (the Sixth Hour),
and 3 PM (the Ninth Hour) and pray along the way], while driving, shopping, doing laundry,
showering, grooming, etc.
Another way to keep God in the forefront is to praise and glorify Him,
and not just at Christmas ("Christ is born! Glorify Him!"). Tell Him He's awesome,
changeless, the Way, the Light, and all the other attributes listed above, and do it
frequently each day. Also acknowledge His presence in your life: "You always know what I
need, Lord"; "You know my needs better than I do"; "You've been so good to me [us]"; and
"I can't do anything without You." (We really can't; we often just think we can). Read
some of the Psalms out loud to God as you stand in front of your icons at home, especially
Psalms 7, 9, 21, 22, 30, 33-35, 40, 42, 43, 51, 56, 63, 66, 67, 69, 71, 89, 95, 100, 102,
104-107, 109, 111-113, 117, 119, 135, 138, and particularly 145-150. This action will
change your life!
Listening to Christian programming and music can also
be fruitful, as long as they are compatible with Orthodoxy. In addition, The Bible is
recorded on audiotapes that can be purchased and played in the car on the way to and from
work and other places.
One of the best ways to keep God in the forefront is to develop an
"attitude of gratitude." Thank Him constantly. At first it may feel strange, but after
awhile it becomes both joyful and calming. Thank him for everything, no matter what. For
example, as I drive to work and back, I thank Him for both the green lights (I'm grateful
that I can keep going) and the red lights (He knows I need a short rest or that I'm being
prevented from involvement in something unpleasant occurring at this moment further up the
road). I thank Him for a parking place at the mall (a close place to speed me along my way
and a distant place to provide me with exercise). I thank him for safe turns and
opportunities to turn in heavy traffic. I also thank him for car trouble (I learn a lot
about cars that way) and for lack of car trouble (what a blessing!). I thank Him for cheap
gas (it saves me money) and for more expensive gas (which reminds me to keep my eyes open
for cheaper gas and/or sometimes walk rather than drive-more exercise again).
Continually thanking God increases awareness of His creation and of the
good senses he gave us. It helps us see the good in others, use our gifts to help them, and
There are other ways to keep God in everything we do. When I wash
dishes, I often rinse them three times while saying, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
Thirteen grapes in my lunch remind me of Christ and the twelve apostles (how "lucky" can
an "unlucky number" get?). And I frequently recite the Jesus Prayer during my exercise
Keeping God in the forefront sometimes also involves making tough
choices. Turning off inappropriate TV shows (no matter how enticing or "funny"), refusing
to gossip or judge other people (that can be tough), or even driving within the speed
What are the ways that you keep God in the center of all you do? Write
them down and transmit them to The Evangelist. Together we can help each other.