I did like the emphasis on the Holy Spirit. My preacher sometimes says we tend to be leery of those who focus too much on the Holy Spirit because we see them as a bit odd. I guess all those faith healings on TV, being "slain in the spirit" and such...they just make us raise our skeptical eyes. But I like the Holy Spirit. I've actually come to appreciate His role much more in recent years although I'm still not a speaking in tongues kind of person. Perhaps I don't have enough faith or Spirit for that and my doubts keep me from experiencing this.
This evening I read a few things I wanted to share. First this which reminded me of the Psalm (16:11) that states,
"'You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."
Timothy Ware writes:
"Orthodoxy sees human beings above all else as liturgical creatures who are most truly themselves when they glorify God, and who find their perfection and self-fulfillment in worship."
Does this statement not remind you of the verse above? The Psalmist says in God's presence is fullness of joy. The author here says humans find self-fulfillment in worship. I wonder if this is why Christian Scriptures view heaven as people of all nations, all tribes, all tongues gathered around God's throne praising Him? Contrast this to Islam's view of heaven complete with wine, women and honey! The Islamic view may see fullness of joy and human fulfillment in sex and food and drinks forbidden on earth, but God knows - at least according to the Christian view - that only HE can satisfy our souls. He is the Creator so why not? Is this so far fetched?
I just thought of a song we sing -- "All that thrills my soul is Jesus. He is more than life to me" one line reads. Yes, so God is the One who thrills our souls. Yet we on earth often seek to fill the void, fill the emptiness with materialism, with good food and wine, with fun times, entertainment, sometimes promiscuity. We are longing for something to make us satisfied when the Bible is clear that God is the Satisfier of our souls!
Do you agree?
One cute thing I read was that in recent decades Orthodox have sometimes added benches to their churches. The author writes of this with some sadness as he feels this makes services more formal. You cannot move around or get up and leave when you are stuffed on a row where you will disturb those on either side of you if you need to move. "[Orthodox] are at home in their church -- not troops on a parade ground, but children in their Father's house. Orthodox worship is often termed 'otherworldly,' but could more truly be described as 'homely': it is a family affair." (pg.270) I just found the view of informally enjoying God's house as charming and sweet. I could picture myself at my parents' house and how I flit from room to room enjoying just being there, enjoying the fellowship with other family members.
|Baptism by immersion|
In speaking of the sacraments -- I've read of three so far -- the author writes that Baptism is by immersion, not sprinkling or smearing. As a Baptist, I can relate to this myself! :-) However they do infant baptism, unlike us. We believe people should choose to follow Jesus for themselves and,therefore, baptism happens after one decides to follow Christ. Immediately following Baptism, the Orthodox have Chrismation which seems to be some sealing of the Holy Spirit on the child as they are anointed with a special ointment on various parts of the body. The author noted Chrismation is also used as a sacrament of reconciliation. For instance, one who left the Church and came back or a Roman Catholic or Protestant who converts is often received this way. The Eucharist is never withheld from children as the Orthodox believe "suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of God." They want children to always have memories of taking part in communion. (pg. 279)
Oh, I cried when I read how the Orthodox treated dead bodies with love not abhorrence. They often have open caskets and everyone kisses the body. That visual was just so touching to me that I cried. Also they strongly oppose cremation.
Any thoughts, comments, corrections?