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Archive for the ‘Holy places’ Category

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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