An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
The other day I found my 18-month-old son Nicholas standing before our family altar with arms upraised and singing. He was gazing at the Icon (Icons are often understood as being “windows into heaven” ) of his Lord and bellowing a wordless melody which I recognized as the Trisagion prayers. I joined him and after we finished, I brought the Icon down to him and he instinctively grasped it and pressed it to his lips.
Some might say he was merely mimicking, but I’ve never been one to trust the opinion of “some.” Jesus rebuked His disciples for trying to send children away from Him and He would further tell them that if they even hoped to enter the Kingdom that they would have to become like little children! (St. Matthew 18:3)
And yet we hustle our children out of our churches and into “kid’s church” while Jesus commands us to be like the KIDS! So what are we doing in adult church?
I hear people saying: “we need to strip away the bells and whistles of church, they aren’t needed….we have to get to the root of community and dump the excess baggage!” But kids absolutely LOVE the ‘bells and whistles.’ They attach themselves naturally to forms of prayer and worship that connects intimately with their senses.
The Reformation stripped and sterilized the church. But in my experience, kids love dirt.
Sometime ago I was channel surfing and (as is my custom) I paused
briefly on TBN and a new (to me) equivalent called "Daystar". One channel had
a fiery sermon being given in a gigantic plush and decidedly sterile
auditorium, and the other in a similar environment but with ecstatic
singing dancing and carrying on. Anyway...my daughter walked into the
room and I directed her to the TV and asked: "What are they doing?"
She watched for a few moments on both channels, thought about it and
shrugged her shoulders and said: "I don't know"
I smiled with a potentially sinful deviousness and said: "Neither do I."
My intent was not to judge those who were present in the scenes which
I had shown my daughter; rather I was wonderfully pleased that she did not
recognize what they were doing as church. My children will have a
thoroughly different perception of what Church means...furthermore even of
who God is.
None-the-less, I am not thoroughly ignorant. There was indeed judgement in
my heart. Lord have Mercy.... despite the acknowledgment of this fact, I am yet
glad my daughter gave the correct answer!
"The way of humility is this: self-control, prayer, and thinking yourself inferior to all
- Abba Tithoes
I have not the slightest idea of what humility is.