:: Monday, August 29, 2005 ::
Lord, Help My Unbelief!
:: Saturday, August 27, 2005 ::
I am a sinner.
Last Saturday, someone told me that E. was coming to church with us. E.? Church? Although he graduated a few years ago, I remember him well. I was either a freshman or sophomore, and I would be praying in the caf. I would quietly and subtly cross myself as I finished. Before I could pick up my fork, E. was at the table, “Are you a Catholic?” He’d ask. I’d explain that, no, I was not a Catholic…but it didn’t matter. His tirade had started. Catholics are not Christians. They are damned. They do not know Jesus. The Catholic Church is the anti-Christ. He would go on, and on, and on. If it was one of the occasions where I could (tentatively) bring up an Orthodox doctrine, it would be subjected to the same treatment, although it was clear he knew how to bash Catholics better than Orthodox.
So, I found out he was coming to my church. Gulp. Why was he coming? He didn’t need to come bash us at our own church. What if he were obnoxious during the service? We have some sweet, but theologically ignorant people at our church; what if he got into a debate with one of them? What if…I really wasn’t looking forward to Sunday.
He was there when I got to church. I stood where I could not see him, halfway holding my breath and trying to focus on the service. Interestingly enough, I saw him cross himself out of the corner of my eye as Father was censing us. I started to wonder…At the end of the service, he went up and venerated the cross. Now I was definitely wondering. I haven’t been around for the last year, and I have seen some awesome stuff in my time here at Biola…I knew our two most recent catechumens when they were active in the Reformation Club…maybe…
After the service he told me he had been a catechumen for a few months at St Barnabus (another local church). My jaw hit the ground. This was E! You don’t understand…E! I tried to think of something to say…something other than “Uhhhh…ummm” I gave up and just asked his forgiveness. I had given up on him. After that many debates, arguments, discussions…it seemed hopeless. Of course, he was equally shocked to see me there, “You mean, all this time you’ve been going to this church? Really?” His thick Louisiana drawl getting thicker as he got more surprised, “You should have invited me!” I didn’t know what to say but to just tell him the truth and beg his forgiveness. I felt all of two inches tall. I had given up, and I had been proven wrong. But he was there; we were having this conversation. Glory to God! Ouch, but glory to God!
Glory to God!
:: 9:59 PM on
Monday, August 29, 2005
Christ is Risen!
:: Monday, August 22, 2005 ::
Today I received an interesting email. An friend of mine, a Biola grad and catechumen, asked me why I believe in the resurrection. My eyes have not seen it; my hands have not touched his side, and yet I am willing to base my life on the fact that Jesus rose. The following paragraph is my response:
If Jesus did not rise, than the Christian faith is totally vain. Man is damned to Hell, and there is nothing we can do about it. Man was created in the image of God, by the Word of God, who is the Image of God Himself. Man fell from God’s grace by pride and disobedience. The image of God became marred in him, and through his continual turning toward sin, it would have been destroyed. This destruction of man is his non-existence; if God “is,” then non-existence (“non-is”) is the opposite of God, insofar as he can have an opposite. This destruction of man is death. In his immeasurable love for mankind, God condescended and came to earth; the Word who made man in his image came himself to restore man to that image. He did this by being born of a Virgin, and living a perfect life, teaching man not only by his words, but by his actions. In this life, Jesus needed to do everything a man did so as to make it holy by having God himself do it. But death, or non-existence by separation from “He who Is,” cannot be sanctified; it must be defeated. So Jesus died. He descended to Hades, and defeated Death. Then he rose again to raise fallen mankind with himself. If he did not rise from the dead, than neither can I rise from the dead; if he did not rise, then the incarnation is a failure, since its purpose was to save mankind. If he did not rise, I will die and be separated from God forever.
But the resurrection is not the end of the story. We are not only able to defeat death to dwell forever on this earth, but Jesus was raised to heaven. Not only “from death to life, but from earth to heaven has God raised him up.” We can go a step more than just this earthly life; we can go to Heaven. All that we are is sanctified and sits this moment at the right hand of God. If Jesus didn’t rise, I am dead and will die. If he did rise, then I have already passed from death to life.
Does that make sense? Any other ideas?
Glory to God!
:: 5:21 PM on
Saturday, August 27, 2005
:: Saturday, August 20, 2005 ::
This is perhaps one of the most unsettling times of any term. I think I’m ready. I’m moved in, I have my classes, stuff, books…now I just wait. There are two-thousand little things I need to get done, but I either can’t remember them or have judged them as too difficult to do before the real beginning of term. So…here I sit, trying not to be bored while nervously twiddling my thumbs.
Sometimes, I wonder if I am not like this all the time. Just making time pass so that I can get to tomorrow, get to the next step, or go forward. We hear that time is short, and that we should redeem it. We should be ready, but there are those two-thousand irritating things to do…so we can sit and twiddle our thumbs, or we can try just one more time to do something good. I watch the clock to see when I can go to bed, hoping to bring on the next day by my sleep. I think of next month, next year, when I will be here or there…I think that I will be kind the next time I do it, or that I will pray more tomorrow. Now is all we have. There is so much to do; I only pray the grace to do it!
Glory to God!
:: 10:23 PM on
Monday, August 22, 2005
:: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 ::
I am back at school, trying to get back into school. I ended up getting bumped off of the housing list, so I have a room that I am sharing, and it is not really where I wanted to be. But, I can survive anything, right?
More interestingly, I was thinking of something cool the other day. I am the president of a club, the Early Church History Guild. We are not an official OCF because we cannot be such on this campus, but we mostly fulfill the functions of one. Anyway, we meet every other Thursday right now...what would happen if I did a readers vespers on the Thursdays that we didn't meet? I know how to do it, and I could certainly obtain the proper liturgical material...but the hardest part would be getting the required blessing from a priest to do it. It also may be touh to get a room on a regular basis, but I think even that could be arranged. So is this a totally long shot, or is it doable? I am willing to commit to doing it, and even if there are only two or three people there, it is good to pray.
That's the other interesting part about this year. We seem to have (I believe) 9 Orthodox/catechumens on campus, and another 4 or so attending Orthodox churches, or who have recently emailed me and asked for information/church rides. What happened? I remember when itt was 1...yikes! So, what do we do with a bunch of catechumens? I do not want to seem as though I am Protestant, but I don't want to encourage in them any anti-Protestant prejudices. I just want them to love God truly, and in doing so to find the Orthodox Church as truly and beautifully as I have found it. I am even awkward doing services with them there...I know I should be talking, but they are so new and zealous and convert-ish...I love them, and want to encourage their zeal, but I do not want to push them to hard and cause them to fall. I am afraid they will think I am good at being Orthodox, or that I can somehow help them. Not really! I just don't want them to fall away; I want that their souls be saved! I have the feeling that I will just get in their way, that I will hinder God, and that I will cause them to leave Orhtodoxy. This more than anything makes me wish Bree were here this term to deal with all the interest in Orthodoxy that she has spawned on this campus. I can't do it!
So, pray for me this term. I hvae my most academically challenging term, as well as ECH to coordinate. Mostly, I have the responsibility of 'being' Orthodox to people who ask. And I myself am just a convert, a catechumen, unable to do this. Please, pray for me!
Glory to God!
:: 10:08 AM on
Saturday, August 20, 2005
:: Saturday, August 06, 2005 ::
Why don’t I get baptized? I think St. Paul answers that question quite well as he says (Romans 7), “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me…For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Right now, I am free. I know no law. Let me give an example. I know the fasting rules of the Church, and I keep them. But I don’t have to. I am still free; there is no law that binds me to them. Because I am free from the law, it is easy for me to practice it. I do not fear (much) adversity if I do not do well. So, I do well because I do not have to. But I know myself. If I had to do something, like St. Paul, I would not do the good that I want to do precisely for the reason that the law compels me to do it. So, while I am free, it is easy enough to do. But once I am bound by the law to do it, it becomes more difficult, if not impossible, to do.
I would rather pray, fast, and live the Christian life freely than be bound by a law to do so. I know in one way that if I sin (don’t do it right), I am guilty. But in another way, I do not feel as guilty as if I had broken a law to which I had been bound. So, I’ll live the Christian life as best I can, but try to avoid the war between me and my flesh that will ensue when I take the next step. Does that make sense to anyone else?
Glory to God!
:: 10:56 AM on
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Emerson’s Cult of Me
I have just finished reading Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Address before the senior class in Divinity College, Cambridge.” He speaks about Me, specifically what I view as “The Cult of Me.”
If nothing else, Emerson speaks of the individual. The individual is the greatest a man can be. He should not try to be conform his ideas to those of any other group, be they geographical, political, or social. He should not listen to other men’s words about God, but rather find those words out himself; he should seek only to live himself. Man is the best he can be when he is by himself seeking God in himself; he should not become subject to any other nature, even if that is the nature of Christ (who, according to Emerson, is not God). If he wishes to find God, a man must reject “his portrait as the vulgar draw it” and seek to rediscover it through new, personal revelations to himself.
This is the Cult of Me. The whole world revolves around the individual. A man is saved when he realizes himself and rejects other men, especially their ideas. Emerson is far-sighted enough to see the results of his singular, self-centered Christianity. One of the main reasons that people do not come to church is because of the quality of preaching; church is nothing more than a sermon. There is no concept of prayer, service, fellowship, or thanksgiving in church for Emerson, but only the hearing of an individual speaking to other individuals.
It’s all about me. I should be entertained by the sermon. I should only have to “Obey thyself.” I should only have to do what I want. I should be able to get to God by myself, thank you very much. I don’t need you or anyone else. I want to be God. Me. All alone.
This isn’t Christianity! We worship God in Trinity; a community of persons. I am saved by your prayers, and by the prayers of the saints. I am not able to do it myself; that is why I go to church in the first place! If nothing else, I need God. I am not an island. Emerson wants to make me one. A really big, spiritual island, but still all alone.
Glory to God!
:: 2:56 PM on
Saturday, August 06, 2005