If Christ is with me, whom shall I fear?

This was the theme of this year’s Saint John Chrysostom day retreat, held by ACOY NSW.

The attendees gathered at the Youth Centre to discuss and learn of the worldly fears that often consume our minds and how to take courage with Christ our role model, to overcome these fears.

His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios delivered the first keynote address for the day, discussing the fear from God in comparison to the fear of God. In his talk, Sayedna highlighted the fact that the words “do not be afraid” are spoken many times throughout the Bible, starting in Genesis where God promises Abraham that he will be his shield, all the way to revelations where God speaks to the people of Smyrna in preparation of demonic attacks.

Further, His Eminence highlighted the different stages in our spiritual life and the relationship we hold with God. We start off obedient in fear of his punishment, and then this progresses to doing good for the sake of reward (salvation), until we reach the stage of Sonship, where we do good out of our love and respect for Him. This is the ultimate Fear of God, to be in awe of His greatness and omnipotence, the fear that was intended for us to have from the early days of Adam and Eve.

Our second keynote address was delivered by ACOY’s clerical advisor, Archimandrite Nabil, who discussed the practical ways to take courage and overcome our fears. Father Nabil demonstrated and discussed how various saints and prophets through the Bible have done so, including Saint John the Baptist, Saint Paul on his journey through Christianity and many other prophets, including Moses, David, Daniel and Joshua who so beautifully wrote of Gods courageous message in Joshua 1:9 “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

These inspirational addresses were complemented by 2 great, thought-provoking workshops led by members of the ACOY committee, discussing real-life situations which would see us having to take courage and address worldly fears, as well as discussing our own fears and worries in this world. Together as a group, we shared strategies, ideas, and inspirational techniques we can use to overcome the fears we face in the world and to lean on Christ to help us do so, reiterating the theme of the day “if Christ is with me, whom shall I fear?”

The day concluded with a vespers service at St Nicholas church presided by Sayedna celebrating the feast of the patron Saint of ACOY, Saint John Chrysostom, who perfectly demonstrated in his life how to be courageous to overcome the world glorifying God in all he did and achieved by the grace of God as a soldier for Christ.

ACOY would like to sincerely thank both His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios and Archimandrite Nabil, for their time, their dedication and their contribution to the success of the retreat.

Thank you also to all those who attended the day and participated in all activities.

We pray that we all take courage and face worldly fears with Faith and Love in Christ remembering the words of St Paul who said:“I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13):