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Thursday, January 06, 2011
A Journey to the Ancient Church (part 1 of 4)
I found this four part youtube video and was very blessed watching it. It chronicles one group's journey to Holy Orthodoxy. Although their journey is unique--every journey is unique--it has elements that are similar to my journey and I think the journeys of all who have come to Holy Orthodoxy as adults. I recommend that you share these videos with anyone you know who is inquiring into the ancient Christian faith. After you watch the first part, you will see part 2 of 4, then 3 of 4, etc.
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Moving. I have to admit the sin of envy because while my journey to Orthodoxy had similar elements I have to admit these 14 years now after becoming Orthodox have been anything but a trial. Having lived in 4 cities and been a part of 6 parishes since becoming Orthodox, all had deep and abiding problems save one. Myself and my family have had several what I call "Ethnic encounters of the third kind" that are inexcusable. All these parishes (save the one) have not been real "communities" (trying to stick with the true sense of the term) at all.
All of this is due to sin of course and we had our part in it as well. However, I never experienced the same sorts of problems as an Episcopalian - just a different set such as the apostasy of faith (no small matter of course). Now that I have a little daughter I admit I fear for her formation. I even admit that with the benefit of hindsight I might have decided to remain an Episcopalian and hold out for the "continuing" Anglican movement which is starting to gain real traction now.
Even this group had it's problems. The California church had a famous row with Met. Phillip and tried to switch jurisdictions if my memory serves. I understand they lost quite a few converts in that incident.
I have always found it instructive that all the jurisdictions are “fill-in-the-blank Orthodox Church IN America”, and not “OF” America.
I of course understand the purpose of this video, but let know one doubt it is just one side of a multifaceted story...
You are right, and I believe Fr. John alludes to this too, there are lots of struggles within the Orthodox Church. In my own experience, after an almost idillic journey into the Church, after a brief honeymoon period, I experienced the worse church conflict in my life. The damage of that terrible period is still healing (almost 15 years later).
However, as one convert priest said reflecting on his own struggles, "It's kind of like Noah's Ark. It's loud, messy, and crowded with creatures I'd rather not hang out with; but it sure beats the death outside.
And a further point I'd like to make. Community is what you make it. Over the last year or so I have been corresponding with a young mother whose family moved to a new area of the country where the nearest church is culturally very different from what she is used to. The church they want to go to is a two hour drive away. The local church is very uncomfortable for them. The people seem strange and the priest alienates them.
What should she do?
Here is what she has done. After getting over the initial shock, this mother of toddlers decided that this is her church whether she feels welcomed or comfortable or not. She began attending regularly. She took the initiative to go up to people who seem aloof and introduce herself and talk to them--again and again, whether they seem friendly or not. She began inviting people over for dinner (and there were some real duds). She began to sing in the choir.
Guess what’s happening? Slowly, slowly, she is starting to make friends, to develop community. She still doesn’t care much for the priest (she drives two hours every now and then for confession). She still thinks most of the people are strange--although she is starting to meet and develop relationships with some who not so strange as they first appeared.
Bottom line: community happens when you make it happen.
The honeymoon is over.
Church would be great without people kinda thing.
Yet it has always been so, as Church History attests, indeed, even the N.T.
As to names of jurisdictions.
They all seem screwed up to me.
There is no Greek Orthodox Church. What is there? The Orthodox Church of (or in) Greece.
There is no Russian Orthodox Church, but the Orthodox Church of/in Russia.
The Orthodox Church is independent of any ethnic clarification, or should be.
We are not "of" America as a Church.
All the names should be changed.
In the N.T. we had the Church of/in Corinth, Laodicea, etc.
It isn't the Corinthian Orthodox Church of Asia Minor.?
Fr. Michael I have to agree with you. Some know the church I attend and some may even read your blog and may come across this post, but that's ok. My struggle to feel a 'part' of my community has been publically known, debated, and has become my own inner struggle. I have had to fight against my own comfort zone to make a place for my husband and I, extending welcomes far and wide. It's almost like fishing - it takes a great deal of patience and perseverance, but it is not without it's reward. Eventually someting will catch. At times the catch is small, and sometimes it's unbelievably large. But it takes work - lots of it - and I would be cautious of a community in which I felt 'too' sheltered or welcomed. Sin is everywhere humans are, whether as individuals or communities.
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