Congratulatory speech of Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin of The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, February 9, 2020:
“It’s so hard to find a suitable gift for a bishop (I know it by myself: what can a bishop need?), but I thought since this cathedral is named after St. Mary the Mother of God, it would be appropriate to give the bishop this little Asian statue of the Mother of God. You know that we in Siberia are Asians although some of us look like Europeans, and sometimes, especially in winter, we are sorry we don’t live in exactly the right kind of Asia. If we lived a little further south, we would be much more comfortable in the wintertime. I have brought this statue for you, Vladika Ivan, from Thailand where some of our church members live.
Beloved Brother and Bishop Ivan, this day can be called the most important day of your life because you have become a completely different person and you will never be what you were before. You have become a bishop and received a miter and a staff [crosier], the signs of your episcopal authority. The miter means the crown which adorns the righteous in the Kingdom of God, the crown which we all have received through the crown of thorns and suffering of the beloved Son of God Jesus Christ who came to us for our sakes and for our salvation.
A bishop is not a position, and it’s not the first among equals. A bishop is a bridge between Christ and the priests. During the liturgy, the bishop stands in place of Christ, serves on behalf of Christ. The priests receive the priesthood from the bishop and then serve on his behalf. In and of themselves, independent of the bishop, the priests cannot serve. Remember what the ancients said that where there is no bishop, there is no Church because it is the bishop who relates the priests to Christ, it is through the bishop that the authority to forgive sins and administer the Sacraments is passed from Christ. It is through the service of the bishop that heaven and earth are connected, heaven descends on earth, and we become partakers of the everlasting heavenly life. The liturgy in the Church is the Kingdom of God on earth. The miter that is set on the bishop’s head like a crown means this Kingdom of God which comes through the bishop’s ministry. By the authority you have received from God, you lead the people to that eternal Kingdom.
The staff is the sign that God has elected you and appointed you to be a shepherd of His flock. Hold your staff in your left hand, so that you may bless your people with your right one. May the Lord richly bless also yourself in your ministry!”
Photo credits: Heikki Jääskeläinen