Missionary work - what do you do?
Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:12 PM
We have a censer, a chalice set, a Gospel, an Apostol, and numerous icons. With a little stability, we will be able to expand our divine services, as well as our outreach. We have also begun having lay classes once a month. It's an exciting time in our small misison.
Posted 11 August 2011 - 06:48 PM
We are secretly waiting for the Bay Street Presbyterian Church to wither, because they have a gorgeous white clapboard building in the historic neighborhood with gorgeous stained windows that faces east. But in the meantime, we are just trying to sustain the flame of Orthodoxy in Hattiesburg, and grow away from the University.
Posted 15 August 2011 - 02:18 PM
What is meant by "wither"? This seems an odd thing to say while working in the field of 'missionary work'. Can the flame not extend to the Presbyterian Church?
Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:21 AM
Perhaps the withering Presbyterians will see the fullness of the Orthodox mission and convert. Wouldn't that be something?
Posted 17 August 2011 - 05:20 PM
Posted 17 August 2011 - 07:44 PM
And what is wrong with Chrismation? The Apostles who were already baptized also experienced Pentecost. So do we through Chrismation. Why is this a problem? Lossky, the authors of the Philokalia, and Orthodox spirituality practiced the "trappings" as you call them and generally see them as essential to that spirituality, not optional. Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.
Herman the Pooh
Posted 17 August 2011 - 08:19 PM
.... I ask, "Why have you been a secret for 2,000 plus years? Where have you been? The Apostles were busy walking the dusty paths, getting beaten, harassed, jailed, stoned, accused ... They went where they were needed. They were rejected to their deaths. Are you prepared for this? If you are the one true Church, The Faith, will you go where you will be rejected? Or will you "wait" for the withering?" To conclude: Once the fruit falls off of the tree, it begins to rot.
I got the impression that Alexander was being a little tongue-in-cheek because he likes their building, no more.
I'm also not sure how the Orthodox Church has been hidden for 2000 years given that the whole of christendom was Orthodox for a thousand. There are Orthodox churches where Christ walked the earth, the vast lands of Russia are still Orthodox (speaking of rejection, have you any idea how many martyrs Russia produced in the last century?), Greece has been so since Lydia preached the gospel to her neighbours and most of eastern Europe is today (to say nothing of the Orthodox churches in the middle-east and Africa not in communion with Constantinople). Here in Britain you can barely go a few miles before you find a place-name or a holy well belonging to some Orthodox saint. I live in Edinburgh and the very castle that makes my town famous was once a community of virgins started by St Modwenna. Iona is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world and it was Orthodox. I could go on but I don't want to be a bore. Just because Orthodoxy was largely unknown to the average American until the last 30 years or so doesn't mean it was hiding. It means that historical circumstances gave the Roman Catholic church greater visibility in some parts of the world but for most of that time it was as colourful and 'expensive' as the Orthodox church anyway.
Posted 17 August 2011 - 10:32 PM
Otherwise you wouldn't be questioning the laws and being talking about being excluded because you were not chrismated. Nor about giving Holy Communion out to all like it was sweets. Nor about the Orthodox not helping out the community. I know in Orthodox countries like Greece, Russia and Romania they do help their community with orphanges, old people's home feeding the poor, prison ministries etc. If you paid attention to the part when Judas complained why the ointment was not sold for lots of money and given to the poor, our Lord said to him, "the poor you will always have". That means there will always be poor people.
If you did a tiny bit of research Orthodoxy has not been hidden for the past 2000 years, it has grown in some countries and become the national religion like Greece, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia plus millions of martyrs over time as well.
Also do not delude yourself by saying your faith is aligned with the desert mothers and fathers. Some of the desert fathers defended the right faith in the first council and especially St Anthony the Great taught the differences between the right faith and different faith because other monks that approached him which seemed Christian since they believed in Christ but held erroneous views. Also do you know of his teachings?
The one about people trying to explain our faith by demonstrations and arguments yet they cannot describe it properly but it is through the in working of faith that you can understand our faith.
So right now you are trying to explain away our practices and getting annoyed without reading, learning and putting into practice our faith.
Posted 17 August 2011 - 11:42 PM
I'm not on this site to argue who is right and who is wrong. In my small opinion, when an Orthodox kick you out because you thought they wanted growth and passed out a few outreach packets during the Greek Festival but found out soon after that you interfered with business ... you will challenge those who say that the Orthodox Faith dates back to the Apostles. It's not so much about right and wrong; but more along the lines of stepping up to something bigger and greater. Give me something more Margaret! The people in the Church were fine with taking the money from those on the outside ... as long as they did not come in and sit in their pews. And I'm not talking about just one church here; I'm talking more than one. I won't even go into the story about the lack of concern for the rape victim. The contemporary Orthodox writers claim that Orthodoxy is the best-kept secret. Why is it called a secret if it is so widespread - so well known? Or, what's the secret? Give me something to sink my teeth into, Margaret - Herman, show me ... don't tell me ... show me that you ARE THE ONE TRUE FAITH. I'm challenging you for more than statistics on church history; I want the today statistics. I know about the saints, the martyrs, and the prophets. I know about them because I hear them calling out! Today! Go Forth! Feed the sheep! Bishop Ware and many other progressive (if I may use this term) writers are saying that inreach is needed. Do you agree? Could it be that there is something askew in that "exclusionary" methodology, keeping people out instead of bringing them in?
Or, could it be that many Orthodox have missed the LOVE boat and have gotten caught up in ritualistic practice? I want to see love in those churches, brothers and sisters in Christ. Sincerely, I want this. I want unity.
I know I'm messing with you, and I intend to. I wouldn't be bothered if I thought Orthodoxy wasn't worth something. I do this to bring you up-to-date with the view from the "outside". I was in love with the Orthodox Church. I wanted to be in that church every minute of the day (aside from taking care of my family). I would show up early for Orthros. Early for Orthros??? And stayed until the the tables were being cleared after coffee hour. I opened up my heart and my soul. But, God had other plans. He did not want me sitting comfortably in the pews, believing everything that was handed to me. IT IS BY FAITH AND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE THAT ONE CAN CONFIRM GOD AS FATHER. This is part of the plan ... all one in the Body of Christ. Is this true? Russian, Greek, Armenian ... all one? Or all one as God's children regardless of the label? Maybe many Orthodox need to start helping Orthodox brethren get aligned with true Eastern Church theology before they claim to have the fullest faith. Maybe the need is your brother or sister just down the street. Sometimes we must step out of our comfort zones. Let me hear your voice in the news. Let me see you walk side by side with the Evangelicals ... and the Presbyterians, who are suffering a difficult split of their own. Remember who the real enemy is.
(read Bishop Ware's Q and A article FULLNESS AND THE CENTER in Christianity Today and read Professor Nassif's article on THE POVERTY OF LOVE).
As one tossed out of the Church (what you do to others you do to Christ), as one standing on the side of the road with a Bible in one hand and a bag of fruit in the other, I'm challenging you to more. Will you meet me on the road? Will you come out of the Church and walk the streets with me? I'm still looking for that homeless woman. Christ cares about every sheep that that has lost its way, and I see many. Like in the Good Samaritan Parable, for a time, I was one on the side of the road, hurt, rejected, overlooked by the Orthodox as they made their way into Church. No one would speak to me. You want to know who picked me up and brought me inside? Those not attending Church because of hypocrisy and religious abuse. I said to one friend, "Are you sure you wanna hang out with me; I think I've a got a whole church after me." She's gay, married to a gay, and she replied, "According to half the churches in the world, I'm going to hell. Bring 'em on."
I am new and full of questions.
Posted 18 August 2011 - 01:42 AM
There's an example in St John Klimacus' Ladder of Ascent where he tells of a young monk being verbally chastised by his spiritual father. The observer asks why, because clearly the young man is innocent. The spiritual father explains the reasoning behind it. Look it up.
Posted 18 August 2011 - 03:35 AM
I am very sorry you have been hurt and have seen others hurt within and without the Church. I truly am. But I think you are calling out people in error.
I have been just as hurt as you in my past by other "christian" faiths and "good meaning" people (read church politics). So I have come to understand people will be people. It is not the Christian faith that hurts, but people. If you are calling out the church to prove itself, then you are talking to the wrong people on this site. If you are calling out people to defend their personal witness to those outside the church, frankly, shame on you.
I have never been one to have much sense when it comes to holding my tongue, but you hit a nerve with your accusations that I feel you are just flat out wrong in doing. If the "Church" in this country is not as popular as in other countries it is because it is still in its infancy. Good grief, it's only been here what 150 some odd years and most of its members are ethnics who don't or didn't speak much english until even more recently. Surely you won't try to compare Orthodoxy in America with the historical Orthodoxy in its mother countries. If you have a complaint on how church administration is run, go talk to the guys in the funny hats.
For those on this forum, we are individuals mostly converts who are still discovering our faith and living it out as best we know how. If you want to hear stories of peope being helped through outreach, I can give them to you. If you are just blowing off steam, then this is your issue. I find it offensive that you feel the need to call people out and testing us and think just because the parishes you have visited represent ALL parishes in this country. I know of parishes that hold weekly cook outs for the community in south Texas. ANother that has a food pantry and clothing store in West texas. another that feeds the homeless in area shelters in my area. I can attest the faith is being preached in each of these cases. But again, this is the parish doing all these things. Individuals are doing more on their own than at the structured outreach events.
You have pain, I recognize that and am very sorry you have been hurt. But all you are doing is lashing out and it is not constructive for anyone.
Whatever you post, make it count. Say, as in ... if God stopped you in mid sentence, and asked you: Are you showing my deluded sister what I have taught you? What would you say?
First God would not do this. He would ask me how I spent my "talents" or ask me how I showed His love, but you can't make up scenarios and expect an answer only you know the answer to.
How have I spent my talents? I have wasted more than I have invested. But I am learning how to be all He has expected of me to be.
How have I showed His love? Poorly at times, and selfishly at others, but I am learning what it means to Love and I am getting better at being my brothers keeper.
This thing called Orthodoxy is not easy, but it really is. We love each other as best we can. We help others as much as we are able. We cry when others cry and laugh when others laugh. We become all things to all people. We meet them where they are.
Some people are as white washed tombs. People will be people.
Forgive me. I tend to have little sense at times.
Posted 18 August 2011 - 07:36 AM
Can't I experience this without making a public event out of it?
"First God would not do this. He would ask me how I spent my "talents" or ask me how I showed His love, but you can't make up scenarios and expect an answer only you know the answer to." Didn't Christ do this very thing in His parables? Didn't He ask questions that only He knew the answer to? "God became man that man might become God" St Athanathius. Aren't we to follow Him?
I can appreciate your humbleness in your reply on this. Point; self reflection, tears of repentance. Synergism - communing with Him.
"We meet them where they are." You meet your fellow Orthodox where they are? Or, are you meeting me where I am? I am concerned with where you are meeting me. I had free access to this site. I became a junior member in a few clicks. Are you now telling me that I don't belong? Are you telling me that I'm asking the wrong questions of the wrong people? Look at 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17, It says that we partake of the blood and the bread that are the communion of Christ, even though we are many, we are that one bread and that one body. Since WE are the Church, we become the Body of Christ. This then leads to Matthew 16:18. I don't hear anything about Orthodoxy here. I understand this to mean ALL people. Explain how receiving the Eucharist is for the Orthodox only? I don't know the answer to this; I'm asking you.
As for being hurt. "Partake of instruction with a great amount of silver, and gain much gold with it." Wisdom of Sirach. I had to go through what I went through. What I show you is an area of need, not only on the streets but "in the church". So, a bunch of Orthodox got the love thing wrong. What will you tell me that will make this make sense for me? Where's the Scripture to support it? And where is YOUR support? If you are a priest and I come to you (and I was told by a priest that we too are priests), and I challenge you with my experiences and my questions, what do you tell me? Go find another site? Like the priest yelled at me: Go find another Church! Go to Orthodox such and such; the priest there has had an experience like yours. I ask, why not you? Why haven't you had the experience?
"This thing called Orthodoxy is not easy, but really it is." So long as nobody challenges you?
Paul, I'm new and always questioning. Is this wrong? I did not look at my words as a lashing but will accept that you did. I lashed at you? I apologize. Do you lash back? Do you tell me that I am in error to bring to light something wrong that has happened in Orthodoxy? In truth, I'm not really concerned with me here. I want to be able to take something away from this engagement that I can use to "defend" or "explain" Orthodoxy for others. I want to believe that this "religion" is the real deal; I really do, but I need more.
the ever-so-hungry ... and thirsty
Posted 18 August 2011 - 08:55 PM
This online community is not, of itself, a church. It is very difficult to minister in this venue. I would only hope and pray that were you to come to one of our parishes you might find a more Christian response than you seem to have received to date. Beyond that I do not know what sort of response you are looking for here.
I, for one, generally prefer smaller mission parishes. It can be very easy to get lost in the crowd in the larger churches. Even as an Orthodox Christian I, too, have been made to feel like an outsider in some places. We are not perfect, no group of humans is nor have been since the beginning as we see from the epistles of the Apostles. Their churches had pro lens too.
I pray you find a real community more attuned to your needs.
This should indeed be a lesson to all of us to be attentive to our witness.
Herman the non-prescient Pooh
Posted 18 August 2011 - 10:01 PM
I am sorry you have had a bad time and have been hurt. Your posts are quite long and I cannot realy address everything in them, but I would like to say a few things.
I believe you may be confusing two things Chrismation and Confession. A confession is made to the priest not to the general congregation, he represents both God in that he from the Apostles hears your confession and gives absolution after Christ's behest "If you forgive any man his sins they are forgiven him." and the Church about which Saint James said "Confess your sins to one another".
Chrismation is the anointing in oil which takes place after Baptism through which you are given the Holy Spirit and sealed with the Holy Spirit, in a way stamped as God's. It is like the laying on of hands by the bishop that takes place in Western churches.
This is true in that those who partake of the Most Pure Body and Most Precious Blood of the Lord are members of His Church the Body of Christ. But this happens Only within the Holy Orthodox Church, therefore it is the Orthodox Church that is the Body of Christ.
Since WE are the Church, we become the Body of Christ.
This does not mean anyone should be nasty to you in anyway (and I am sorry about what ever has happened to you) rather they should help you and guide you to the Church.
You say you have many questions, think about them, which are the greatest to you now and look round the site maybe start a few treads about them, that way people can answer you about each question.
Posted 18 August 2011 - 10:45 PM
I leave you with one last, the most important point in this ... as pastors, priests, parishioners, sponsors, spiritual advisors, disciples and outreach persons, we never know what and who we are going to get. We never know how we will be challenged, in what manner. It should not matter whether I have guns blazing or not; what matters is how you conduct yourself. Do you need to know the backstory to be kind? To show love? To see past the mess and reel in the individual with automatic acceptance and sound explanation on what you believe as Truth? Gal. 5:22 Do you pick and choose your catechumens? Do you pick and choose who you approach in your outreach? Jesus went to the dishonest tax collectors, the prostitutes ... through this, He made a point to the self-righteous Pharisees.
If I had allowed myself to be negatively affected by what I'd heard about certain members in the Church I'd attended, what I'd heard from the lips of key individuals, and what I'd seen, I would have turned around and walked right out. If I had walked out, I never would have learned what I learned. I would never know how to work with the more challenging people. I would never know what it is to love those who have used and abused me, and I never would have experienced one of the themes I'd decided on long ago for book two of my trilogy - betrayal. You see, I went into the Greek Orthodox Church to do research for my trilogy. I read theology beforehand and much of the basics prior to going in. I liked what'd I'd read. Finally, after many, many years, I was seeing something I hadn't seen before. Interesting how there are no coincidences in Orthodoxy. No one speaks to me at the Church (they've got some issues they are having to deal with), but every now and then I fire off an e-mail and say, I love you.
I'm still researching.
Love in Christ,
Posted 19 August 2011 - 04:54 AM
No, you can't. The church is a community. We are not a "me and my Jesus" club. We are our brothers' keepers and we have to look out for each other. St. Paul said we are to judge those in the church and let God judge those outside her. But yes, we are to help everyone. Jesus told St. Paul "Go into the town and it will be told you what to do". Jesus didn't instruct him, Ananias did. We fall into prelest if left alone too long to contemplate what we don't understand.
Can't I experience this without making a public event out of it?
You ain't Him. I know that is crass to say, but you blew in here like a tornado and expected all of us to know your story and respond in the way you demanded the first time all the while judging us on our acts of charity or the lack thereof. You don't know us and we don't know you. But you expect us to have all YOUR answers without knowing anything of YOUR past. Every story has two sides, we only get to hear yours.
Didn't He ask questions that only He knew the answer to?
Of course I am meeting you where you are. You are here and this is where we met. If I see a naked man on the street, I know what his needs are. I will clothe and feed him. After all your accusations above, I still don't know "what" you want of us except to give you answers to give to other people that you still have not well enunciated. Seems to me YOU need the answers for yourself first. I don't know where you get from my posts that you don't belong here. I never said that. You are taking my direct rebuttals from your "test" of us as though you are not welcome. Perhaps you are asking the wrong questions to the wrong people. You should direct your questions of pain at those that hurt you, not complete strangers. We can offer you support and comfort, but we can't change you past or explain why whatever happened happened. Personally, I shy away from people who are in my face. But if approached with respect and sincerety, I am very open and honest. I guess I am being a little too open and honest on this post, but I care about the people here and I tend to give what I get. I know your first post was not directed at me specifically but you made it about me when you jumped on the group. Who am I? I ain't nobody. I won't pretend to be. I'm just real riled up over this.
You meet your fellow Orthodox where they are? Or, are you meeting me where I am? I am concerned with where you are meeting me. I had free access to this site. I became a junior member in a few clicks. Are you now telling me that I don't belong? Are you telling me that I'm asking the wrong questions of the wrong people?
Jesus gave the first eucharist only to His disciples in the upper room. He didn't give it to people on the street. Also St. Paul says we are sick becuase we eat to our condemnation. We don't know what we are doing by taking the Body and Blood of Christ into ourselves without first preparing for Him. How much less are those outside the church not prepared for It. We safeguard our sacraments from those that would do harm to them or to themselves. Have you not read during the first centuries and even today those that were not yet baptised including the catechumens were ordered out during the Liturgy at "The doors, the doors"? Though I have never actually seen anyone being ushered out, I have heard some jurisdictions still do.
I understand this to mean ALL people. Explain how receiving the Eucharist is for the Orthodox only? I don't know the answer to this; I'm asking you.
Nothing at this point will make sense to you. You are still too angry and not able to receive what we are telling you. Besides if you can't make sense from the writings of the fathers over the past 1700 years which you said you have read, what can we possibly say? It seems to me in trying to convince others of our faith you are getting "confused" by your agnostic and athiest friends. Scripture to support what? Scripture cannot be rightly understood without holy Tradition. You are not looking towards holy Tradition for answers, you have come to an internet forum with a bunch of strangers you can't see face to face. You can't see our expressions or hear the inflections in our voices. It is a POOR medium for a conversation. My support? is my conscious. My gut knows when something is right or not. I then go and research and find out the Truth of the matter. There is something about this whole conversation that is "just not right". There is another side to this we do not know, yet you want YOUR answers.
What will you tell me that will make this make sense for me? Where's the Scripture to support it? And where is YOUR support?
I don't mind being challenged. Neither do most people on these boards. Just becuase the answers you get are not what you want to hear is not our problem. You will never get all your answers answered until you calm down and see what happended to you whatever it was is NOT the norm. I've heard Greeks especially ethnic Greeks can be a fiesty lot. Especially to a 21st century American who was taught a whole differnet set of cultural skills. Do you think St. Nicholas at the first ecumenical council was not empassioned when he slapped Arius in the face? Each time you type, you share another small bit of information. I find it hard to believe but I will believe you that your priest told you to leave and go find another church to attend. There has to be more to the story than dampening their Greek festival fundraiser. Orthodoxy is easy just as Christ's yoke is light. Love God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Do I do this all the time? heck no. I am the worst of sinners, but I try my very best to speak the truth as I know it and will correct myself and make amends when I am wrong.
"This thing called Orthodoxy is not easy, but really it is." So long as nobody challenges you?
No, I tell you you are in error by your behaviour to strangers. Even friends do not use such strong language when they get into arguments. Like what? List some specific questions we can directly answer. Keep the posts short and don't overlap questions. It is really hard to answer multiple points in a long post and try to effectively cover everything. I know I did a poor job here, but the above stood out to me. Why do you feel the need to defend or explain this "religion"? It has stood the test of time and still grows. Our job is that of St. Phillip; "Come and see". Yes, we must know our faith. Yes, we must be able to say we believe the way we do, but we don't have to know it ALL. Your signature line says you "used" to be called Photini. So were you baptised? were you chrismated? Have you fallen away from the faith? Who are you and where do you stand in relation to your beliefs? How can we have a conversation without knowing you?
Do you tell me that I am in error to bring to light something wrong that has happened in Orthodoxy? In truth, I'm not really concerned with me here. I want to be able to take something away from this engagement that I can use to "defend" or "explain" Orthodoxy for others. I want to believe that this "religion" is the real deal; I really do, but I need more.
You have heard the expression you can get more flies with honey than vinegar? That's my beef with you. Ask questions. Don't attack and demand. Oh, and if you really need to know what acts of charity I personally do towards orthodox and nonOrthodox alike, Just PM me. I will not display what I do on the open forum.
Paul who cares, but is very frustrated.
Posted 19 August 2011 - 05:40 AM
But this doesn't negate what our Church does. Here in my small city a supermarket has been established. People who are having a hard time feeding or clothing their families can visit this supermarket and get whatever they want, without paying even one cent.
There is also a type of "soup kitchen" where ladies, who volunteer for this work and are not paid for it, prepare meals for others. Some people come and eat in the dining room, but a lot of packets are prepared and taken to the homes of those who are unable to visit the facilities. Sadly, the number of needy families has increased in the last couple of years.
In cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki there are soup kitchens where people who live on the streets can eat a hot lunch. I never thought that I would see homeless people here in Greece such as we saw in other countries on TV in the past, but this hideous phenomenon has reached us. A lot of these people are illegal immigrants but there are also lots of Greeks.
The Church, together with others, provides this service.
The Greek Orthodox Church has many missions in various countries in Africa. These heroic priests provide housing, schools, and work for many people.
I have been taught that, as an individual, I should be silent and gentle concerning my religion. When asked, however, I can answer any and all questions that I am capable of answering. My life, itself, should be an example to others of what my religion is. I am sad to say that I fail here. A priest is the right person to answer questions about our religion but sometimes the initial questions can be answered by you.
As Paul says, we all help others. But, we do not discuss this. Don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. Helping others has to be done discreetly because it is important that a person maintains his dignity. Today's helper might be tomorrow's needy.
There are thousands of Orthodox who go about their daily lives, helping others. Should they make themselves known? Of course not. I know of several in my circle of friends who make me ashamed of my selfish life. Their lives are an example to me. Think of the thousands I don't know about. It's so easy to look at only the obvious.
God is One. He is the same God for everyone. There are good people in every religion just as there are arrogant people who think that their religion is the only one. We tend to dump all our terrible human faults on God forgetting that He is pure love and nothing else.
The Orthodox religion does not need to be defended to anyone. I love the fact that it is such a free religion. My relationship with God is personal. My aim is to be an imitator of Christ and to find oneness with God. I have said this before but it is still as true as it was years ago - my life with our Lord seems to consist of one step forward and two steps back, but I keep trying.
Love yourself, love life, but most of all love God.
Posted 19 August 2011 - 04:13 PM
Effie, awesome, however, as much I agree and participate in the soup kitchens and the clothing drives ... I was directed to John 6:26-29 last night. I had an empty plastic baggie marking this spot. I thought, "An empty baggie? Where did this come from?" I read the verses. 27: Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has a set His seal on Him.
This brings me to the experience. Why aren't we inviting the needy into the Churches? This was my experience. Remember? It seems as if the GR OC did not want this. My thinking is this: feed them, cloth them but also help them help themselves ... by having them sit with you in worship. Share the Word. You can be as silent as you want in this but my feeling is that they need to be with you in church, or Bible Study, or some assembly of sharing, and very much need your spiritual council.
I have little doubt that most of you attend wonderful churches. You have, rich, full lives in Orthodoxy and are learning. I would be in your church in a flash. I apologize for my initial "accusation", in a way, only because I know that it is not a kind thing to charge others (and certainly goes against much of the desert teachings, except in the area of changing anger to righteous indignation - Look it up). It was deliberate because I wanted to hear how you would respond to my "accusations". If not true, my bad, but if you are all ONE in Orthodoxy, as I have been told repeatedly, Greek, Antiochian, Russian, etc, then surely you take responsibility for the behavior of ALL. If this is not true, then I have been misinformed. If true, then ... you decide. I was a quiet and gentle person in the church (was given the name Photini long before I was ready for Chrismation. I was told I was illumined). Suddenly, I was put in a position where I was treated with "harshness and demands". Remember, there are many people on the outside that have experienced religious abuse and WILL challenge you on your religion/faith. Will you be prepared to answer them in a way that will warm their hearts?
Paul ... "Christ you ain't." I set myself up for this. Once again, deliberately. Why? I think you can figure this one out on your own.
My experiences in the church ... hard to believe? You haven't heard anything yet. I prayed, "Lord, should I share the key experiences or keep them private?" Some have advised me to keep them quiet. Also, I care very deeply for these people. God brought me to them. I don't take this lightly. I know some things are going on in some churches, not so good things. I wish I could tell you what I have experienced and what I have seen, but I cannot.
As for defending the religion ... Orthodoxy is on the rise. From what I've read, the Evangelicals are mining the fields of Orthodoxy, and the Orthodox are taking cues from the Evangelicals. I see this as a good thing. I mean, John the Evangelist - right? And Paul, did he not have to defend his faith time and time again?
I often wonder if Orthodoxy is already beginning its own split. There are many cradle Orthodox that do not want growth if it means bringing "others" into the church. When I told the priest that I was reading the Philokalia, he was fine with it. When I asked a couple of parishioners if they'd read it, they hadn't even heard of it. I was then told, practice hesychasm. Why wasn't I allowed to talk about it? Bishop Ware, Coniaris and many others were instrumental in getting these writings out to laypersons. Light and Life Publishing advertises it for men and women. This gave me the feeling that the views are split.
Love in Christ
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