Time

Evidence and passages and workings-out and many, varied reactions have fed into my process since the first night I went to an Eastern Orthodox Vigil service with a view to serious consideration.

Questions, always. How can they say...? Aren't we never supposed to think...? Doesn't the Bible mean this over here, rather than that over there they are emphasizing...hm, oh...wait...? What if...what if...?

All my life I’ve been used to one person (99% of the time a male person) standing in front of a group at church and teaching. The services I've known centered around this time of speaking, or sermonizing, which can include very wonderful teaching, but might not. Orthodox services often contain a homily (though not always), but this is not the main focus. And yet I have been richly taught in every service I've attended. Taught by persons from over the course of recorded time. Both men and women have contributed to the tapestry which is remembered expression of what’s been given.

One thing that has dawned on me (many things dawn as time continues) is that this “remembered expression” is what could naturally have happened, if people preserved, both in written forms and by committing to memory, what was done from the beginning. The stories of the actions taken by God the Father, by the Holy Spirit, by Jesus Christ are the stories I want to sink my teeth into. Since the day I made the decision to be a Christian, this is what I have wanted.

The worries which are natural for Christians in the West are the worries I struggled with. Heartily, meatily, I struggled for months. Glad I am that my past Christian training was done by faithful people who weren’t out to brainwash me, make money for themselves, or other such hogwash as is repudiated in Scripture. Because of my Protestant teachers’ high standards, I have for years been able to discern some things (I’m neither a scholar nor anywhere near flawless, but I can think for myself).

And so I have delved (and am still delving) into questions, such as: 1) Why allow only Church members to receive communion?; 2) Why call Mary the Mother of God? Is this worshiping her?; 3) Why have pictures (icons) of people in the churches? Why are they dubbed Saints?; 4) Why repeat phrases? Is this a behavior meant to be done enough times to win God’s approval?; and 5) For that matter, why make ritualistic motions, such as the sign of the cross over oneself? Isn’t this another attempt to “look good” to God and others, which would be in a biblical sense “fearing” man instead of fearing God?



If I were anything like a theologian or philosopher or rationalist, I might go on from here to systematically answer these questions. I’m none of those things, and if I were, I wouldn’t know enough yet to do so, but I do know something. The same action can be done by two different people for two different reasons — by any number of people for any number of complex reasons. This fact doesn’t eliminate the possibility of real, historical, organic truth being present in the meaning behind the action. I have been testing out answers to the questions above by participating, by tasting and seeing. By living in the Church.

An aspect I love of the prophetic, teaching writings in the Bible is their theme of leaving artifice behind and turning again and again toward truth. What was stated by people in the Bible had to be tested by the passage of time, lots of time. Their biblical theme, Christians believe, has so far stood the test.

May we each keep turning toward truth, and may what I share here be in that direction. Please weigh in at those points where it sounds to you like I’m rebuilding an artifice and so living the life of a transgressor.

Comments

Marianne Elixir said…
I can only imagine how complicated this "conversion" must be for you to face given your richly protestant family, friends, and community. I love your boldness to turn toward truth as best you can see it. I continue to find your journey fascinating and I appreciate how much you share.
deanna rebekah said…
You're most welcome, Marianne. Thanks for lifting this place somewhat from obscurity. :o) (I enjoy the obscurity, to some degree, as you can likely imagine.)