Saturday, March 19, 2011

I have issues!

Yes, if you haven't already noticed, I have issues. That said, I wanted to take some time and flesh out some of my initial issues with Eastern Orthodoxy and how I over came them. The first one starts last summer when I gave Eastern Orthodoxy a first glance. Immediatly, I noticed something, MARY (and I had some issues with Joseph)!

Ummmmm, this was a bit of problem for me. I got that she was special, she was chosen, and she was a beautiful example of humility and godliness. But that was i,t right? What was this Ever-virgin thing? Jesus had brothers, right? At first, I really grieved and was a bit angered by the thought of her ever virginity. Already there was so little of Mary in my Protestant faith and now I wouldn't even me able to relate to her as a wife. It was like I didn't even know her.

Months, went by and I refused to look at EO. But, some of the arguments where working in my heart. Could it be that Joseph was an older man when he married her? That he stepped up as her protector and the protector of Jesus? That Jesus "brothers" really were cousins or step-siblings? Maybe, just maybe, I wasn't losing Mary so much, as gaining a deeper and more complex understanding of her and Joseph.

What about her "ever virginity?" Was I really supposed to believe that Jesus was not born in the way of normal babies? I had to approach this one backwards. After his death, Jesus appears to His disciples in the upper room, by walking thru a door. A miracle, right? Well, if He could walk thru walls, why couldn't He be birthed thru a wall of flesh? I don't have an answer. If I believe the one, by default I can believe the other is possible. It is a very foreign concept to me, I grant you, but not as outrageous when viewed in light of His other miracles.

In the end, I didn't lose anything. I gained a ton! My respect and admiration for Joseph. My awe for what it must have been like for Mary. And Jesus, somehow I had fallen into the thought that He started being God-like at the age of 32. Now, there was so much MORE!!!

I won't gloss over this and say it all sits perfectly, sometimes I still struggle, but what it really comes down to is: I can't compartmentalized when or how God gets to demonstrate Himself.

Friday, March 18, 2011

An orthodox view of salvation.

A new Spring!

My last post was actually drafted 2 months ago!

          Much has happened in the past 2 months, and it is time to write it out. After much exploration and research, I shared with my husband my desire to look into Eastern Orthodox Christianity. My husband is an amazing man, who loves me dearly. We complement each other. Without me he would live a very boring life, and without him I would live like a butterfly, flitting about from pretty flower to pretty flower.
         At first, he was cautiously supportive. In fact his words were, "That's fine, but I am not converting!" Although he said that, he bought me my Orthodox Study Bible and began doing some reading on his own. Eventually, we agree to attend our Protestant church on Sat. nights and an Orthodox church on Sun mornings. The first few Divine Liturgies were difficult experiences. This was so foreign. Yes, it was beautiful. But, how could this be church? How was it going to teach me about God? Didn't I need someone to preach AT me? To tell me how to live? Why did I need to be a part of this Liturgical Service? Wouldn't it get boring, week in and week out? Would I grow in my relationship with God?

         These questions did not have immediate answers. I couldn't look up the answers, I had to experience the answers. To do that, let me tell you about our last night in a Protestant Church.

         We went to church like normal. The kids went happily to their children's classes and we walked into the auditorium in preparation for praise and worship. The music started and it was wonderful. We were very fortunate to have a phenomenal worship band with many very talented musicians. Yes, there was something spiritual in the experience, but the thought that rose in my mind was, "I would pay money to see these guys in concert. In fact, that's where I feel I am at. At a really good concert, but something is missing." There was nothing wrong with the music, it was both beautiful and organic, it was everything a praise and worship service should be. And yet, something was missing.
         Then the Pastor started his message. He is a wonderful Pastor, with a genuine love for his congregation. You can feel it as he speaks. He begins talking about the research he has done into the ancient paths of Christianity, and about His desire to learn from them. In fact, he goes on, "Many of the Monasteries had a 'Rule' that they lived by. A prayer schedule and routine that guided their day." We could look at their example and come up with our Rule. In that moment, I leaned over to my husband and said, "But we already have all of that over at the Orthodox church."
         After service, I asked my husband his thoughts on the Pastor's message. His response was something likes this, "Have you noticed that when we leave an Orthodox service we never ask 'How did the Priest do?' Our church experience does not revolve around a man's ability to preach a message. As a result, our spiritual life has little to do with 'How the sermon went?" In fact, when we are in a Protestant Church we are the audience, but when we go to the Orthodox church we spend the entire service smack dab "in the middle" of an act of worship. Every moment, every action, every word is a deliberate act of worship, rich with meaning and tradition.

         So, we found home. I will be honest. I still have some questions, I'm still disoriented at times, but this is where I feel safe. It's where I have come to be able to rest in the arms of the God I love. I can read the Bible again and pray.

The Fog disperses....

As a wife and mother I couldn't stay, I wanted to...but couldn't. I learned to dread the sun light...reality. I didn't want to see the foreign land I had traveled to. Gone were the things I knew. The church, the people, the bible which I had sucked up so much nutrients from...those wells were now poison to me. I couldn't drink without tasting my tormentor.

But, thru the fog I would hear an occasional whisper of something greater, something grander than what I already knew.  A couple of chance encounters, a brushing of minds, the gentle quickening of my heart and I am curious. Could it be? I wonder. Is there a path back to the God I love? Is there a road, strong and true, to guide my feet? Are their guides, old and wise, to hold my hands? And, most importantly, will I once again be able to rest in the arms that brought me so much comfort?

Truthfully, I sit on the thought for quite a while. First off, it's just too foreign to contemplate. So many things I refused to consider,  would need to be looked at. And what about my family? My "pastor" husband, and my kids?

For the first time I have hope!