Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another joy noticed ....

When we attended St. George Church in St. Paul on vacation, the regular priest was on vacation.

We noticed immediately that the priest did nothing in Greek, a bit of a surprise to us, but we didn't think much of it.

Turns out he was one of the priests from Holy Trinity Orthodox in St. Paul -- serving in the place of the vacation priest. It was a joy to see that a priest of another jurisdiction was able to serve the Divine Liturgy. Now, that is a contrast for me: when I was a Lutheran pastor, one in the LCMS did NOT have pastors from the ELCA or WELS (Lutherans understand the different letters, they are different synods, different juridictions) serving, and oft times one only had select pastors within their own synod serving.

Something different for me, but certainly a joy! It is also a joy to see priests from various jurisdictions joining at special services and at Divine Liturgy.

One Wonders ....

Sometimes I wonder if those who have been embraced by Holy Orthodoxy for their whole lives realize what they have? After receving the mysteries at an Orthodox parish in St. Paul, MN, we were engaged in conversation with a delightful parishioner ... who soon launched into a monologue on this "great new Bible Study" he was part of. He went on to say how the participants didn't really deal with "theology" or "religion" but just studied the Bible. 400+ he told us, of "every denomination." Turns out it was the Bible Study Fellowship, which is apparently the rage in some places. I bit my tongue: even as a Lutheran Pastor, I viewed such things with alarm.

It serves the "I can read the Bible and believe whatever I want to believe" philosophy that permeates much of today's society. The Bible is viewed outside the Church, and anything goes.

One wonders. Of course, this often happens in any "tradition." Many times those who have "grown up" in the tradition haven't really learned it. Sort of taken for granted, they may not realize just what they have ... until one lately come points out the value and treasure of it!

The lovely bride and I were wondering, as we returned home from vacation with family, why no one really, seriously asks why we became Orthodox. After all, the move from the Lutheran pastorate wasn't made on a whim, or because of some political situation in a parish or synod.

I suspect that part of it is due to the fact that today "Church" is what you make it. In my family, there are Lutherans and Reformed and Evangelical -- in spite of the fact that we started Lutheran. No one bats an eye. Perhaps it is the "Well, at least they are going to church" syndrome. So, to become Orthodox is viewed as going to "another denomination."

I think that part of it also has to do with the fact that to become Orthodox, one must ask serious questions. One deals with the Truth, as Fr Gregory Hogg points out. For my family, it would mean asking very serious questions about where they are, and it would be costly to leave friends made over many years. It would also coming into a discipline far different from what they presently experience.

Of course, one wonders just who takes these things seriously in our age?!!

We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly spirit ....