Fr. Benedict Simpson, a Facebook friend, posted this deeply thought-provoking, but yet sharply critical status about Americans and how they “church hop”. One thing I have learned in my journey into Orthodoxy is that my preferences do not matter, the preferences of those in the early Church and throughout the ages did not matter, and neither does yours. This is where the Orthodox sharply disagree with some about spirituality, ecclesiology, and above all worship. Christianity isn’t a vending machine where you get to pick and choose things. Nor is it a menu where you pick what is in line with your tastes. This is deeply out of line with both the New Testament and the Fathers.
I’m a drummer, and I’ve played in worship teams before. Of course, I wouldn’t mind some instruments in worship, but that isn’t how the Church has approached it and still approaches it (note, there are some African churches that bring deeply held customs of their culture into the Church, but it is not a general acceptance). But I’ve learned that there is so much beauty and watchfulness in the approach to worship we Orthodox take. We sing/chant the entire service without the aid of some silly stage, loud instrument, or egotistical worship leader. I’ve deeply criticized this approach and the entertainment-driven, feeling based approaches before, so I appreciated Father’s challenge and wisdom. This is just one insistence of preference, but think about your own preferences, your own theology, and how you may try to find a church that fits into them instead of a Church where you drop yours and receive what was given to the Saints.
We Americans and others shop for churches like we shop for coats. Does the coat suit me? Does it make me look good? Does it ‘feel’ good? Is it agreeable to my own sensibilities?
If we ask ourselves those same questions and simply substitute the word ‘church’, We will find the crux of the issue. Does this church suit me? Does this church make me look good? Does it make me feel good? Does this church agree with my own sensibilities?
Dear ones… with such an outlook, we are looking for the church created in our own image and not the Church that is the Body of Christ. Think upon this. To become part of Christ’s Holy Church one must sacrifice his own image in order to take upon himself the image and likeness of Christ; for indeed we are called to become imitations of Christ in all that we do. Even unto the Cross.”
Something to ponder on. God’s blessings to you in your ponderings.