Thursday, September 06, 2007

Orthodox rising

Visiting St. George Greek Orthodox Church is a full sensory worship experience.

Incense hangs heavy in the air filling your nostrils and clouding your eyes. Icons with pictures of saints and scenes from the Bible remind you of the purpose of this place and engage your mind with their stories. Congregational prayers and chants delight the ears and elicit response from the parishioners. Gestures and postures (crossing oneself, bowing, standing, kneeling) keep the body active and connected with the rhythm of worship.

It's easy to see why people have fallen in love with the worship, and the church has doubled in size in three years. My reporting led me to some fascinating folks, who have really prayed and studied to find this new church home. Jason Foster had even made a career out of their Southern Baptist faith.

Converting to Orthodoxy meant he and his wife had to ask themselves some hard questions and grapple with issues of salvation theology, Mary, the saints, the Eucharist. That's not easy stuff to understand, and it was compounded with negative reactions from some friends who just didn't understand. "They think we worship Mary and worship icons," Ashley said. Of course, neither of those things is true, and they're hard to explain if people don't want to hear it.

The Fosters stay confident because they have studied. They are also thankful for their Protestant upbringing and its high view of Scripture that has informed their belief. Talking to them made me wonder if I would be willing to face that kind of criticism for my faith.

Have you ever faced those sorts of criticisms? How do you handle it?

Photo: Sunday liturgy at St. George. Shane Bevel/The Times

1 comment:

John said...

I face criticism nearly daily because I turned from my RC roots (up until I was 12) and embraced the truths of the Apostolic Pentecostal church. In that transition and based on what I learned from study, I came to deny the doctrine of the trinity, along with a salvation gained by saying a prayer or by works.

Going from Protestant to Orthodox is nothing compared to the criticism one gets from denying the trinity and the "sinner's prayer"!! EGADS! That's like "going to hell" stuff to most.

But, oh well.....

It's a beautiful truth to know that Jesus Christ is the One God of the OT manifested in flesh and the only God we'll ever see! (John 14:6-9; Col 2:9; 1 Tim 3:16)

It's a beautiful thing to see someone filled with the Holy Spirit just as those in the book of Acts were! (Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; 19:6)

It was incredible being buried in water in the name of Jesus Christ (not in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and having my sins completely and totally removed by that obedient act! (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Col 2:11-14)

I embrace the criticism and walk on, knowing how rich my relationship with God has become because now I know WHO God is. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. :-)