Offering Thanks to God On My 75th Birthday
My Dear Brother Bishops, and Reverend Fathers, Deacons, Panis, and Good People Gathered Here:
I greet all of you in the Name of our Great Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ:
Slava Isusu Christu! Glory to Jesus Christ!
I have been thinking of many things since we gathered at 5 o'clock today for the Prayer Service of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral. First of all, let me tell you that the service was very prayerful. The choir lifted us up. And you sang our Prostopinije beautifully! Never forget our plain chant, for it is the jewel of our church. And always sing it! It is the pride of our liturgical services, and we do not want to lose it because of a lack of usage.
Secondly, I am grateful to the bishops who have joined us today. I know there are many things that tax your daily schedules, and yet you made time to be here. I will remember it always.
I am grateful to my family also. Even though they live many states away, they call regularly, and they visit. They extend many kindnesses, and I will always remember.
I also want the priests and deacons, and your wives and families to know how grateful I am that you are also here! Many of you traveled great distances to be here. All of you and your ministries are important to me. Without you there would be no diocese. Without you there would be no way to keep parish churches open. Thank you for your loyalty to the Church and your service to the good people of our parishes. I know that your service is often made with great sacrifice. I want to thank you, and I ask God to bless you.
And then I am grateful to all of you dear people who occupy the pews in our parishes. You made time today to be here. This was a great sacrifice for you also in many ways. And I will not forget your kindness.
Now I am thinking about something. In the Second Epistle of Peter, Chapter 3, this is what we read in verse 8: "But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
It seems that the older we get, and more spiritually mature, it is easier to understand that a person's life is just as complete at twenty-five years old, or fifty-five years, or seventy-five years. There is one thing that we must keep in mind: with the Lord, a day can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years can mean a day. Remember that the purpose of life is living, and not counting years! And a life well-lived achieves its full potential.
At seventy-five years old, I have stopped counting years. I realize that God doesn't want it, and I don't need it. We can celebrate our birthdays, and please don't leave here saying the bishop doesn't want you to celebrate your birthday! I do want you to do that, but especially for the right reasons. We can celebrate our birthdays, and we should. But we should be celebrating something even more important than how many years old we are. We should be celebrating the years of Christian life God has given us. We should be celebrating what we have done with all those years God has given us. Have we used those years wisely, or have we wasted them? Did we glorify God in all those years, or instead did we give ourselves glory?
I hope I have been a wise steward of the years God has given me so far. I have enjoyed my 52 years being a priest. The last 28 years have also brought me great joy working for you as your bishop. Even though I am struggling with sickness right now, I am dealing with it. I don't regret any of the 75 years God has given me, and I would not change them in any way. I can sing "Happy Birthday to me", and really mean it!
Remember the words of scripture; "With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day".
I thank all of you for coming. God bless you. The day has been long. I feel tired, and I know you must be tired. May God send the angels to take you safely back to your homes. S Bohom – Go with God!
+ METROPOLITAN NICHOLAS
Remarks Offered at Metropolitan Nicholas' 75th Birthday Party Dinner at Christ the Saviour Educational Center - February 22, 2011. This was the final public address of His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas - Eternal Be His Memory!