It is apparent to me that I cannot do series of posts. It’s too hard to balance the day between the screaming, the schooling, the crying, the field-trips, the chores, and the perpetual work of running and maintaining a household. As we type this, my youngest is literally pushing his playpen around the living room like Samson and throwing his toys around. It’s not a pretty picture. He probably needs a nap, which means that I will finish this post some time two hours from now when he finally decides to let himself fall asleep. Life as a stay-at-home spouse, lemme tell ya about it. But not today.
I was talking about finding a church. My general rule–as stated many weeks ago in the first post–was to go to the nearest parish to your home. Regardless of its ethnic heritage or musical style or even whether or not you like the priest all that much. It’s still the body of Christ and those are still the people of God celebrating the Liturgy and sharing the Sacraments. Unless there are serious reasons not to attend the closest parish–like they falsely accused you of embezzling funds or physically abused your family–you really need to invest in that parish and find a way to be a blessing there. But what if you aren’t an Orthodox Christian? What if your “in the market” for a church? What then?
My first exhortation would be to seriously consider the Orthodox Church. There are a lot of reasons for this which others have covered in-depth better than I every could. I would start there. If you aren’t Orthodox and the marketing mindset of Western consumerism is your frame of reference for choosing a church gathering, I will say the same thing: Stop shopping. 1) it’s not about you 2) it’s about the family of God and your adding of your gifts, talents, and time to it. This idea of finding a place which meets all of my “needs” for worship will continue to let you down again and again. In the long-haul, you will miss out on the opportunity to bless and be blessed by this church family because you were in search of “the right fit.”
So what is it all about? If it’s not about “finding the right fit” or “blessing” or “service” for my personal preferences, what is church all about? Why put my time, energy, and financial support into a community which will let me down more times than not? The simple answer: because you are unique. God has gifted and empowered you to be a blessing to the people around you. He has specially formed you for His service–not to be served, but to serve. So when you walk through those doors on a Sunday morning and find your place to settle yourself in, you are adding life and breath and spice and enthusiasm to the room which was missing before you arrived. As I said in the last post, it’s about the Us we create when we come together for corporate worship which is the most important thing. You are missing from the Us if you constantly compare your church home to a shopping list of ideals or to TV/Internet church communities. you are missing from the Us if a series or personal beliefs and political ideologies stand between you in right Doctrine and true Worship of the Triune God. You are missing from the Us when worship becomes about you and your preferences and personal tastes.
I’m sorry these posts have been sporadic. I’m sorry these posts are not very well written at times. It’s hard to do everything that needs to get done and still find time to write. Be encouraged: there is a Church to be found. the Original Chrsitaintiy did not suffer and die with the Apostles. It continued through their successors and is now present on every continent in the world. Do yourself a favor, and explore Orthodoxy. Discover a hidden gem buried in a field clouded and obscured by consumerism.