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Archive for May, 2008

Icons – A window on the wall.  A view to an unseen reality. I love that explanation. I don’t know where I heard it. I am afraid to try to explain too much about icons, for fear of getting it all wrong and leading people astray. I don’t really have a full understanding of what the Icons of the Saints fully represent. But, it is like a portrait of a hero. Not a picture of an idol. It is not to be worshipped, it is to lead us to worship of God, the image of God in the Saint that is portrayed. I would much rather have my kids plaster their rooms with the heroes of The Faith than with images of pop stars, movie stars or sports “heroes”.  

Recently we went to an open house at our kids elementary school. I was shocked and dismayed to see that our daughter’s collage was full of pictures of one of the Jonas Brothers. He is a young kid that has a band with his siblings and a show on Disney channel or Nickelodeon. I didn’t realize that she had been so branded by the hype of those shows. Well, I must admit that I went through all those childhood crushes on teen and pre-teen stars. But wouldn’t it be nice if her admiration was spent on real heroes? Wouldn’t it be lovely if her (everyone’s) mind was full of stories of people who have lived and died for Christ Jesus? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the qualities we looked up to were not fame, good-looks and charisma but the very qualities of our Savior?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.

Humble, Servant, Obedient, Holy, Good, The Way, The Truth, The Life…

What would you add to the list?

I hope we can raise our kids to adore Christ. To WORSHIP God; fully, courageously, unashamedly, joyously, disarmingly, contagiously, and other good words like that 🙂  I think that we have found the Church that will help us to do that, God helping us. May His name be glorified in all the earth! 

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When we decided to “try out” the Orthodox church near us, I thought it would be a few visits. Then somehow my husband got the idea that we had discussed a plan (we probably did) and started telling a few people that we were going to try it out for a year and then make a decision. I felt rushed and maybe a little like, “eh, when did we decide all that?” But, then again, my brain is not the best at remembering, so maybe we did talk about it. Not that I regret it at all, I am just saying that I felt a little rushed. 

Now, our friends Mark and Barb are coming to the Orthodox church too and it looks like they are ready to dive right in, while I am still feeling cautious. That’s me, Miss Cautious. Do you know what happens to cautious people? They usually watch their feet when they are about to jump… which throws them off balance. Or they stutter step and trip over their own feet. I know that there has to be some value in my desire to wait and search this new church out, but I feel kinda foolish or like a coward.

(This quote is from a comment that I left in my husbands blog.) It is hard to put into words, what I am feeling. I have been raised Christian all of my life but found that I struggled with some of the teachings. I think that my desires, for a long time, have been for worship that is reverent and holy, like it was in the Old Testament and like you see it described in Revelation. People falling down, prostrating themselves before a HOLY GOD. People praying together in unity, not for themselves alone. I like the way the Orthodox Church worships and prays. Also, I feel that the teaching of Salvation makes more sense to me in the Orthodox church than it did in other Christian churches, because I could never make that verse about “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” fit in with “say this prayer and believe, and you are saved.” I have felt like we should be doing something to show that we are saved or to cooperate with our salvation. But that attitude would be dubbed “works based salvation” where I come from and that was frowned upon.

I think that the guarded feeling is from fear. I am afraid of being “led astray”, I am afraid of the unknown elements, and I am afraid that I will give my heart to this Church, these good people and that I will later find out that there is this THING or THINGS that we cannot accept about Orthodoxy and we will have to tear ourselves away. I do not want to feel that pain again.
So far, everything seems right. But, I feel like I have to give it more time or something. I am not one that likes to dive right into the deep end. I wade in at least halfway before I get all wet. I wish I could feel safe enough to dive right in.

So, I guess that sums up my answer to the question, “What’s the holdup?” 

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During Pascha or Passover, my husband, children and I were soaking in some OLD Christian Traditions with a local Antiochian Orthodox church. I wanted to know more about this form of Christian Worship, so I went to the internet and started checking blogs that had to do with converting to Orthodoxy and blogs that talked about the Pascha services. I saw a comment by a lady and I decided to send her an email. That email led to another and another email and we found ourselves sharing our very similar stories of past Protestant church experiences. Her husband had been a pastor, my husband had been a pastor. We both have 4 children. We have both been through church break-ups. Her husband got interested in Orthodoxy, my husband got interested in Orthodoxy… Why? Because it felt like there had to be more to Christian life. Her husband is now a priest in a Greek Orthodox church. My husband is happy to just be in a congregation now.

This is one of our exchanges about changing to Orthodoxy.

I said, “We have tried to incorporate some Orthodox prayers and practices into our home church.”

She said, “I think that is the best possible way to come along together in this great adventure of finding out about our full Christian inheritance – because that is what I think the Orthodox church is.  Some of what you know from your past is God-given and you keep it.  Some of what you know from the past is probably just wrong, and you leave it behind.  But mostly, I think, Orthodoxy fills up the empty spaces and makes a whole fabric out of what used to be patches.” 

That got me to thinking about a quilt.

I had my quilt started, with all I had learned from my early church experiences and training, but there were still holes and gaps. About 1500 years of early church history and stories and Traditions were missing. And beyond that… the reverence that I remember feeling in church as a child, the feeling of being in a holy place, a place of AWE and respectfulness, was quickly becoming a distant memory. Would I only feel that “holy place” feeling in the mountains? At a retreat? At the distant sites of the HOLY LAND? Or are we supposed to set aside places of holy worship? I have many questions; many, many unanswered questions. But I am getting the feeling that the holes in my quilt are definitely getting filled up with beautiful fabric of great worth. Maybe, some patches are threadbare or rotten and they must be replaced. That is okay, because the replacement pieces seem to be gently and lovingly used and lovingly handed down. 

 

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Hello it’s me again. I found a blogger who is telling her story of journeying to the Orthodox Christian faith. I liked the part of the story that I have read, (Part 4) you can go to the link here or click on her name in my blogroll. She is Nichole3. I am just fascinated now with the stories of how other people have found Orthodox Christianity and how they describe their first impressions and encounters. I hope you enjoy reading her story too. 

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The Agape service at the Orthodox church was wonderful. It was yet another service that made me cry! I was not feeling sad or even repentant (those were other times that I cried). I was feeling joyful and blessed to be able to experience the universal aspect of the body of Christ, as several different people from the congregation stood in front of us, taking turns reading the same scripture in each of their own languages. The reading was from the Gospel of St. John 20:19-25. I think that we heard it read in Arabic, Mandarin, Laotian, French, English, Spanish, Russian, Greek(?) and Slavic(?). It was like the world was among us. And I felt so aware of God’s full presence in the world. It reminded me of Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues… and the people from all the different countries were hearing them speak in their native languages. Ah, sweet fellowship! I have included a picture of an Agape service at a Las Vegas Orthodox church. I found it on Google images, under Agape service. You can see that the doors to the Altar are wide open. I will include a link, below, to the Las Vegas Orthodox church’s page, so that you can see more of their pictures.                     Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

http://lasvegasorthodox.com/photos/Pascha_Agape_Service_200402.htmagape service

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