The Mission and other weekend Orthodox happenings
First a big thanks to all of you who took the time to send me well wishes on my Name Day via email – even from some folks I hardly knew!
This Sunday we visited Nicholas’ and Charissa’s Godparent’s mission parish in Snohomish and it was a wonderful experience. We would have been a part of this effort had we not moved from Sultan - in fact we pushed for the mission and waited as long as we could stand it before finally giving in and moving closer to St. Paul’s…and THEN the mission really started moving along…sigh.
Anyway, on the way in we drove near our old Episcopal Parish and one of my kids recognized it. Kelsey immediately clarified and pointed out to her younger sibling that: “That’s not the REAL church we go to now.” I laughed with nowhere near the innocence in which her statement was made.
Fr. David from St. Andrew's in Arlington served the Liturgy and I was quite amazed to see how the snohomish missionaries had carved and framed a beautiful little chapel out of a seemingly bland little business park garage. Indeed, we can create Holy Space ANYWHERE!
Fr. David’s homily was outstanding…he sounded like many of my post-mod church planting friends who rail against “numbers and size.” He encouraged the missionaries (aka mission parishoners) to focus on the heart of Orthodoxy which is found not in numbers of people, or the elaborate décor of the chapel, but rather on healing through purification, illumination, and deification. I was encouraged and I must, admit upon leaving, a bit jealous that I could not play a bigger part in their work at this mission.
Speaking of Healing – the sermon reminded me of section 44 of St. Athanasios’ On the Incarnation, which we had just read in Men’s Group the day before. Really, if you wish to better understand the Orthodox belief in Salvation, read it! Here is an excerpt:
You must know, moreover, that the corruption which had set in was not external to the body but established within it. The need, therefore, was that life should cleave to it in corruption's place, so that, just as death was brought into being in the body, life also might be engendered in it. If death had been exterior to the body, life might fittingly have been the same. But if death was within the body, woven into its very substance and dominating it as though completely one with it, the need was for Life to be woven into it instead, so that the body by thus enduing itself with life might cast corruption off. Suppose the Word had come outside the body instead of in it, He would, of course, have defeated death, because death is powerless against the Life. But the corruption inherent in the body would have remained in it none the less. Naturally, therefore, the Savior assumed a body for Himself, in order that the body, being interwoven as it were with life, should no longer remain a mortal thing, in thrall to death, but as endued with immortality and risen from death, should thenceforth remain immortal. For once having put op corruption, it could not rise, unless it put on life instead; and besides this, death of its very nature could not appear otherwise than in a body. Therefore He put on a body, so that in the body He might find death and blot it out. And, indeed, how could the Lord have been proved to be the Life at all, had He not endued with life that which was subject to death? Take an illustration. Stubble is a substance naturally destructible by fire; and it still remains stubble, fearing the menace of fire which has the natural property of consuming it, even if fire is kept away from it, so that it is not actually burnt. But suppose that, instead of merely keeping the fire from it somebody soaks the stubble with a quantity of asbestos, the substance which is said to be the antidote to fire. Then the stubble no longer fears the fire, because it has put on that which fire cannot touch, and therefore it is safe. It is just the same with regard to the body and death. Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature. To prevent this, it put on the incorporeal Word of God, and therefore fears neither death nor corruption any more, for it is clad with Life as with a garment and in it corruption is clean done away.
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:40 AM [+]