Orthodox Christianity has liturgies…

in fact a pretty good number of them including services that are done only once a year and they all have on thing in common. There not about you, or me for that matter.

The object is always God and that takes getting used to in a culture where our worship of our emotions, our needs, our thoughts, and our preferences bleeds over into our churches. If there is one thing that comes from Orthodox Christian worship it’s that you, or I, are not God. Weddings, funerals, divine liturgy, morning prayers, it makes no difference. It’s not about you, or us, or the world around or within,  just God.

You see you and I have been blessed all week with things like gravity, a heartbeat, food (usually too much) and a host of things that we’re often blind to in a society that counts on us always being addicted to more. For most of us, in this country especially, we are swimming in a sea of blessings for which we are, in the main, generally ungrateful and unresponsive. We’ve forgotten the Giver and even the time set aside to give thanks, to be grateful, to return a few words of worship for an eternity of goodness is tinged with our selfishness.

Orthodox worship challenges us to step out of ourselves, even if its just for a few hours a week. Orthodox worship calls us to to another Kingdom, not just the affirmation of the ones we’ve created. Orthodox liturgy is designed to break us out of our boxes and give us the opportunity to be what we were designed to be, creatures in communion with our Creator.

Only when our hearts are set on higher things can we transcend. The moment, any moment,  when we are truly present to God is the moment when we are most alive. In losing ourselves in the presence of God we find that for which we hunger.

Understand this and it will be easy to turn off the TV on Sunday morning.

It's not possible…

to truly enter into Orthodoxy if you come to change it, save it, add your distinctive (political, sexual,theological, etc.) or think that the addition of you is going to inevitably change the course of its stream. If you come in the door this way only three things can happen. You’ll leave when you finally discover that the Church isn’t going to accept your particular slant on things or if they do it might take a couple of hundred years. You’ll grow old in the Church in some quirky corner and always be partly disappointed.  Or you’ll decide that whatever you thought was so gung ho important coming in is not important as the mind of the Church over the centuries and you’ll start to “get it”.

The truth is that in the 2000 plus years the Church has been around it has seen and done more than you. You have nothing new to offer it, not your ideas, not your sins, not your perspectives, and every time you think you do the reply is the same “Been there, done that, let’s go to prayer.” If you understand this, or come to understand this, you’ll start to see the freedom that lies in it all. If you don’t you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time “kicking against the goads.”

Orthodox Christianity, with all the flaws of its adherents, still has an enormous amount to offer the hungry soul. Whatever else can be said, good or ill, about it it can never be accused of lacking depth.  Yet if there’s a label, a hyphen of any kind before the words Orthodox Christian, either in your mind or out loud in front of everybody,  you can spend a hundred years in the pews, know every rubric, and be correct in every step of the dance and still not understand what you’re doing.

Count on it.

A Prayer…

In the Antiochian Archdiocese Financial Report for the year ending on January 31, 2010, page 50, the Bishops of the Archdiocese are listed as “auxiliaries”. If this is a mistake it is a significant one and if this was a statement it doesn’t seem wise given the struggles that ensued and the decisions made following the attempt to return our Diocesan bishops back to auxiliaries. What good would be served by recalling old hurts?

I just want us, all of us with myself the first, to rise above. There are serious challenges to the Faith, a culture that is increasingly hostile, social breakdown, a world wandering in the dark. So what is the answer? Return to our first love as we are hard, cold, and lost without it.

Holy Spirit, come and renew us, refocus us, call to mind in our hearts the reasons why we embrace this Faith, make us tender again. Lift our eyes to heaven and our hearts towards God. Let the things You desire be our desire, forgive us where we have sinned, and set us again on the path of salvation.

Changing the heart…

is difficult. This is why there are millions, even of the Church, enamored of politics, power, and acquisition and only a few who are pious. Yet the world will one day be inherited not by the politicians, generals, academics, or captains of industry but rather by the meek.

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