Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reflections from Sunday

Last Sunday we took B. to Church for the first time. Very exciting.

Father talked about the woman with the issue of blood, and in the course of his homily he touched on how in the case of this woman it was not enough that she was healed, but that she confessed aloud that she had been healed.

Sometimes it is enough that God knows and we know what God has done through His mercy. But other times it seems He asks that we acknowledge, confess Him.

And so, inevitably, I got to thinking how we have brushed the hem of His garment and so experienced His power and His mercy. And how it just doesn't seem enough that we know and He know that He has been good to us.

Thanks be to God for what He has done. Slava Bohu.


And as I looked around me I saw so many wonderful people. Mr. and Mrs. P., who brought us some home cooked meals; G. G., who visited us and B. several times in the hospital; Mrs. K., who prayed for us constantly; Mrs. O., who gave us beautiful baby clothing for our boy ... I could on. But every face was the face of a friend. Every hand was the hand of Christ. And I realized that these people, this parish, have been Christ to us.

And I am overwhelmed.

How can you thank someone for being the hands, feet, lips, and heart of Christ? There aren't words.

- V.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Logismoi, continued

Orthodox do not start with the Fall. This is very important. It means that the black-red-white-yellow-green evangelism tools of my youth are worth nothing to explain the Gospel that we live. [Black is supposed to represent sin, depravity, the post-lapsarian state, and is used as a visual hook to show how man is evil and apart from God. Not an Orthodox approach.] It means that angry God is an insufficient prod; while fear and guilt are excellent motivators, they do not seem to be God's modus operandi.

Instead, Orthodox focus on the Creation. All eight days, for the day of the Resurrection, the day in which we live, is the eighth day of Creation. And it is good.

Christ's death and resurrection take care of the Fall and its problems, but His incarnation does not require the Fall. [I don't know if there are speculative Orthodox out there or no, but I would be interested to know if they think that Christ would have died and risen again had there been no Fall ... ?]

The Gospel is an invitation to share in a divine story. It is, as it was once called, possibly by Tolkien, True Myth. It is the Platonic reality to which all other myth and story are but shadows, and only succeed as story insofar as they reflect the true myth that God has been telling us since the dawn of Creation. "And God said ...."

I think, and this is probably in large part due my Protestant upbringing, that I am susceptible to the juridical approach to Christianity.
  • I mustn't make God mad...
  • Oh, can't sin in that way - it will annoy Him.
  • I can't confess because I don't feel guilty enough.
  • I'm due for hellfire now, I tell you ...
The focus falls on doing what is right because it is right and good and God is right and good, and if I don't do it, I will be bad and I will be punished. I become an ass, led by the carrot of a sterile Paradise and followed by the switches of present guilt and the threat of eternal punishment.

Instead, the metaphors in Scripture are of journeys. We are wayfarers and sojourners, athletes running a race, disciples following Him.

So too Liturgy and the Church year teach us that Christian life is movement, and we speak of salvation over time and the "Christian walk". All these things point to the fact that we are being called, relentlessly, constantly, lovingly, "Walk with me. Follow me. Take my yoke and come."

He wants us to journey with Him, out of love, compassion for us. And He showed He means it by coming here to live with us as Christ Jesus, to be with us, suffer with us, love us.


It is strange. All these words feel so familiar, so like unto things I have been taught and things I have said myself once upon a time. But they feel new upon my tongue. New and different and beautiful, not jaded, time-worn, or kitsch.

And I don't really understand it, either. It is not as if the past three months were spent in penitence and prayer. I can't claim to be terribly spiritual, then or now. Or strong. All I see is the world a little brighter, old truths made new. All I see is God walking with me, even though I'm not the best of company. ... Perhaps the only difference is that I see it.

- V.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Today I was talking with a friend of mine. Brother C. is a married Anglican Franciscan monk under and in the Celtic monastic tradition - the tensions implicit in the previous statement are beyond my ability to fully understand or resolve - whom I have found to be thoughtful, deep, and the instigator of further thought.

The problem with Puritans, he said, is that they start with the Fall.

A simple statement, but it got me thinking.

Orthodox do not start with the Fall, but with Eden. We start with Paradise. And then, acknowledging the Fall, we move on to Resurrection, a Resurrection that is the climax to the crisis of the Cross. The two, interwoven, interlinked, entwined, paired. And in our temples, two icons paired: Crucifixion and Resurrection.

What we show at the front of our temples is not a moment, a gory, Passionate moment where Christ writhes endlessly under Roman torture, but a story, centred at a cross and a tomb (both empty), but also beginning in Incarnation and ending in Apocalypse, the story of Christ Jesus Emmanuel, God with us.

And it struck me forcibly that the lure of the Gospel is the invitation to share. Share in His suffering, share in His resurrection ... share in His baptism, His body, His blood. Share in the story.

I have recently walked through a very desolate place. There wasn't a lot of singing or dancing, or even praying, for that matter. Perhaps we - E. & I - were walking through a grave, walking through the shadow of Hades. I don't know. But God was present, all the time. He didn't say much, He didn't promise much, but it seems to me that He suffered with us, He shared with us in our desert place.

Theodicy: Suffering - evil - is a problem if the Cross is the cure to the Fall, if all Christ does is pay our dues to God. Because then why do we suffer? If our suffering is a consequence of the Fall and our sins, and Christ has paid these [and our forefathers'] sins off, suffering as a Christian feels like nothing more than vindictive malevolence.

But if the Gospel is an invitation to join in a divine story, then suffering is revealed as a condition of the world that Christ has walked through and continues to walk through with us, the better to share, the better to unite, the better simply to become friends.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Home at Last

Well, we are home.

After three interminable months, B. has been pronounced "cured" and we are home.

Praise God, we are home.


For those who wondered, I ran out of words, ran out of beauty, ran out of poetry. This happened roughly about the same time that our son had his third episode of NEC.

Sometimes all that one can do is wait in silence.

In any case, we are back.

Expect posts to follow, as parenting allows.