Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Visit number 21...coming of Age!

If my visits were years, I could drink legally now!


Last Saturday marked my 21st Visit to an Orthodox Church!

I am at the point now where my "visits" are no longer that of an outsider but rather, not visits at all...I am just going to church. So from now on my posts will be less about observations I make in the service and more about what is going on in my life as it relates to my faith and journey towards Orthodoxy.

That being said, my 21st visit was a good one. I really enjoyed and was moved by the litanies. I like that the priest mentions a petition and the congregation responds with a "Lord have Mercy" or "Grant it, O Lord." Nothing, in terms of petitions, is left out. We pray for our families, country, President, armed service...basically everything that touches us, we offer back to God, asking Him for His blessings.

Let me switch gears a bit and talk about my visit with my Pastor some weeks ago. (Like I promised I would) First of all, I had meant to blog earlier about this but I have been working a lot of overtime on the weekends and I hadn't been in a writing mood -Note to Michael, that includes answering emails :) - but I am rested enough and shall proceed.

I met with my Pastor who is a caring shepherd and told him about my being drawn towards Orthodoxy. He said his first reaction is that I shouldn't leave because God, in his view, has called me to the congregation I am at now. That is where I am apart of. That is where my immediate family is. This is where I have a ministry. I acknowledged to him all of this. God is always in the business of drawing us closer to Him and He knew that at the congregation I am at now is where I could grow. So I am grateful for all my years in the Church of the Nazarene....but it isn't enough.

Pastor acknowledged that he very possibly was reacting the way he was because he was feeling protective of one "of his sheep." He does understand that God can and does lead people to different churches but he is concerned that my wife and kids do not feel the same. That to him is a red flag. (That to me, is a concern as well but maybe for different reasons),

Pastor went on to say that the Orthodox church had nothing that the Nazarene church didn't. (I had to repress a smile; I didn't want to be disrespectful). He misunderstood my search for the ancient church as a search for the perfect church. I understand the difference and know when, by God's Grace, I become a catechumen, I shall be with imperfect people. What I did not explain was that the Orthodox Church had "better tools" to work on our imperfections. I tried to relate some of that but did a poor job. I spoke of the Incarnation making physical matter "sanctified" and related that to Icons and how this is a means to Salvation and he, of course, called it idolatry.

I must say I left the interview knowing he cared about me and my journey. He truly is a descent man and caring shepherd. He gave me the phone number to a religion professor at our denominational college and asked that I speak with her. She would give objective information regarding all my ponderings. That, dear reader, I will tell you about next blog post!

I promise :)

12 comments:

  1. Interesting. May you have a blessed Lent journey.

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  2. Thank you, Maria,
    You have a blessed Lent as well

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  3. Ahhhhhhhhhh THAT'S why you didn't answer my email. Well....at least you know I'm reading the blog :-)

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  4. ....BUT since we are on the subject of my email (LOL I just won't let this horse die), it seems to me you have struggled mentally and physically with this decision when in the end, it was yours and yours alone to make. You never really needed anyones approval, though you continually sought it. Your family relations were never in danger, though I suspect you felt a wee bit of guilt at leaving them at Nazarene, and your Pastor, if he is a good Pastor, was bound to recognize, which he did, where your heart lay.

    The decision to follow Orthodoxy for its rituals and ancient histories and reverence and to further your faith has always been yours (I think I mentioned several blog posts ago...no one ever listens to me).

    I share similar interests in Catholicism and Orthodoxy as you, though for different reasons. It is fascinating to me.

    I'm glad it all worked out and enjoyed this post a lot.

    I can't help but feel that one day, God, if he is a "being" in our sense of the word , though I suspect he or it is something neither of us can comprehend, is going to wrap you on the head and say "Jim, the sky is my sermon, the wind through the trees my hymns, the oceans my communion, and cycles of life and death proof of my existence. Mike seemed to understand that...why didn't you?"

    :-)

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  5. Jim,

    Your post reminds me of the myriad of conversations I had with well meaning Lutherans about our conversion. While most of mine were exceedingly constructive, some of the same themes emerge, particularly the part about there being "no perfect church."

    I was fortunate -- not only was my wife on board, but she was in fact pushing the issue once we attended an Orthodox service. Once she went, she knew she couldn't go back. Prayers ascend for your wife and children and for you. I would note, however, that part of your responsibility as the head of your family is to lead, and sometimes leading means leading from the front. While you certainly cannot lord the Church over your family and coerce or force them to attend with you (nor should you try), your example to them and your faithfulness is a positive thing, not a negative. As I see it, that's not a red flag, but in fact your responsibility as a good husband and father.

    May your lent be blessed, and may your journey be as well.

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  6. Congrats Jim, I had not realized you were now head of the house over the little woman.... ;-)

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  7. Mike,
    I know you are right!

    It’s just that Karen and I , since the beginning of our relationship have always done “The God Thing” together. When we were engaged, we came to the decision to choose one church and go there as a couple. It was Pentecostals Verses Lutherans and , thank God for my sanity’s sake the Lutherans won! :)

    Then when we moved to Aunt Gladys’s house, we started going to a Lutheran Church but for different reasons felt uncomfortable going there so we checked out the Nazarenes and we have been going there ever since. The point is, we always did that together and thought it was important to us.

    Then when I started checking out the Catholics (which led me to the Orthodox) I did that on my own, just virtually and in books, partly because I knew Karen had no leanings towards there and partly because I tend to my closed in my “interior” life. This I say to my shame.

    The problem is, I really think Orthodoxy is all it says it is, regarding being the Full expression of Christ in His Church. The other’s, while being legitimately a Christian group, can’t hold a light (or candle?) to Orthodoxy. I don’t think I am going to Hell if I don’t become Orthodox but it’s like discovering whole milk after drinking powdered milk all your life – The powdered milk may have the same vitamin’s as whole milk but, come on, which tastes better?

    I guess I just have to do it.

    What you said about God being something we cannot comprehend is absolutely correct. Orthodoxy makes a distinction between God’s Essence and His Energies. God is not knowable in His Essence but fully known in His Energies. That’s why there is a contradiction in the Bible where it says God cannot be known and it also says He can….gotta love the Orthodox!

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  8. David,

    Thank you for your comments. Perhaps you are right about "just going for it."

    blessings this lent...
    jim

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  9. Mike,
    I AM head of the household...I know this to be true because Karen said I could be...:)

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  12. JACK AND THE SPOONCIANS by Mike Boyd

    Once upon a time there was the Chef, and he created the Soup and the Mug. Followers of the Chef wrote a cookbook and set forth the commandment that all soup should be eaten with a spoon and so the people became Spooncians. As time went on, Spooncians fragmented into different groups...Small Spooncians, Medium Spooncians, Large Spooncians, Chopstikians, and Forksians. Chopstickians were a wise and ancient group who ate their soup quietly. Forksians were frustrated by their inability to capture all their soup on their forks and waged a Holy War against the Spooncians. Spooncians went on and on about how one could only enjoy their soup by being a Spooncian and they largely argued with each other as to what size spoon to use, thumbing their nose down at all who were not at least some sort of Spooncian. Spoocians thought it their mission in life to convert poor misguided Mugsians, who followed no set Chefly rules because they had never heard of spoons or forks or chopsticks, and just ate their soup directly from the mug.


    Jack and his Wife Jill were Small Spooncians and enjoyed their Small Spooncianess. They ate soup with other Small Spooncians, taught young Small Spooncians, and only did things involving Small Spooncian beliefs.

    Then one day, Jack decided to dip a medium spoon into the soup. He was excited and giddy as he ate his soup with the medium spoon and set about learning all he could about Medium Spooncianess. During the course of learning of Medium Spoocianess, he discovered Large Spooncianess. His hand shook violently as he took his first slurp of soup using a large spoon. To his amazement the large spoon was just what he had been searching for his entire life. He began studying to be a Large Spooncian. He loved Large Spooncianess. He fretted over leaving the Small Spooncians, and feared telling his wife of this monumental discovery and conversion. Friends and Family, and indeed his wife Jill told him that they were sorry to loose him to Small Spooncianess, but he was still a Spooncian no matter what size spoon he ate the soup with.

    As Jack progressed in his Large Spooncianess, he discussed his progress with his friend Max. Max listened to his friend, but seemed unmoved by Jack's tale. Max was neither a Spooncian nor a Mugsian. He certainly was not a Forksian, and though he admired their ancient ways, he also was not a Chopstickian. Max's lack of utensils bothered Jack.

    "But you were raised Spooncian, how can you not use a spoon when you eat soup?" Jack asked Max.

    "Because I just don't," said Max.

    "Then you can never call your self a Spooncian."

    "That's fine...Jack...we all have different beliefs and different paths to follow..." Max tried to explain.

    "But you don't seem to have a path.."

    "Of course I do Jack," said Max. "I like soup. I don't have the patience to eat it with chopsticks, and eating it with a fork is just plain stupid. It's of no consequence to me whether one uses a small, a medium, or a large spoon. I don't use any....I eat my soup from a bowl. I'm not a Mugsian either. I just like soup. Utensils aren't the point, neither is the mug, or the bowl...the soup is the point. I don't need to learn every ingredient that went into it's creation or fret over which utensil to use, I just need to eat it and be thankful that it is hot and delicious."

    THE POINT IS...If the Soup is Life, just enjoy your soup...stop worrying about the rest of the 'noise', the place settings, the pot it was cooked in, the shape and size of the utensils...just eat the damn soup..befoore it gets too cold to enjoy.

    THE END

    © 2011 Mike Boyd

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