Sunday, April 27, 2008

Further Investigation

I am soooo exhausted today!! Last night my husband and I did a little further investigation into Orthodox Christianity. At least three of our adopted children have either been baptised Orthodox or are coming from a country that celebrates this religion as its main form of Christianity. In order to understand them and where they come from culturally we want to understand what they have been taught. So last night we went to experience a three and a half hour Midnight Pascal Service at a local Orthodox Church and all I can say is...WOW! It makes what we did with our family at Easter look almost pagan. Now don't get me wrong we do celebrate the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but this service was like going from one dimensional worship into three-D without modern technology. You entered the Church and the lights were low, candles were given out and lit which gave a solemness to the atmosphere. Many women wore scarves as a form of reverence to God. The people seemed close to one another and warm to us who were visiting their body. The entire service was sung acappella in harmony as they repeated the story of what Jesus had done to redeem mankind. I closed my eyes and felt like I was listening and participating in the heavenly celebration of the resurrection. As the priest encircled the congregation with the incense that represented their prayers being lifted up to heaven it smelled robust and ancient and gave me a sense of holiness I have never really experienced. The liturgy was at various times throughout the night read or sung in at least three or four languages because so many people groups were represented. There were Russians, Greeks, Dutch, Ethiopians, Scots and many others. It gave me a sense of what heaven will be like. The communion was taken by the people not in the way we do at our church as a memorial, but as if this were mysteriously the actual body and blood of their savior. And as I watched them take the bread with their arms crossed over their chest and their heads reverently bowed I wondered if I was missing internalization of Jesus that dated back to the first church? All the senses were in play at this service: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. It was exhausting to us who are not trained in this type of worship since you stand in reverence for all except for the Homily. I was amazed at the women with babies in their arms and the quietness and participation of the children(no Sunday school entertainment going on here...just kids learning to worship like their parents).

By the end at 3am we were tired, but we came away with a better understanding of what this religion looks like and feels like. The congregation would continue their celebration long after we went home. Their 50 day vegan fast would break once this service concluded and they would feast together. We went home and slept for four hours before we got up and went to our own little church that meets in a grange hall. I love our fellowship and the things God has taught us, but I couldn't help but feel as we shared our little cracker and grape juice memorial of the Communion sacrament that something was missing...
maybe further investigation is needed....


Team Dragovich said...

Theresa, Thank you so much for checking in on us!! It warms my heart to hear your encouragement and I Love, love, LOVE reading your blog and thinking through your heart's and mind's thoughts with you... I am inspired to dig into the Orthodox church deeper-- thank you! Help me get started... what books, websites, etc. have you gone to? Thanks also for praying for us-- I am convinced that it is the faithful prayers of others, that we are able to be "abandoned" to God and trust completely in His ability to see us through!

Grace and Peace,

Thankfulmom said...

My best friend is Orthodox, so I have had the pleasure of learning about her faith. It is very rich.

Glad to see you are back and blogging!


Amber said...

thank you so much for welcoming us! it is so great to meet a family who we can learn from!

Theresa Tate said...

Hi Theresa,
It's your fellow Theresa, Fr. Matthew's wife - I was going to wait and comment on your last post - but of course, this one got to me - so I have to slide in here. I wish I had had a chance to welcome you that night and to learn a little of your story, but of course that wasn't the time.

It will be so wonderful to share our stories about these children. My heart also bleeds for them and when I saw that photo of the little Chinese children in the cribs...tears. I have so much compassion for the Chinese people, especially the children - and now the earthquake!

At any rate - here's my email address: and here is my blog about visiting the foster home for blind children in China:

Since most of it was written from China, there's not much there about the faith:)
I look forward to meeting you!!
Love in Christ,
Theresa Tate