My Inquiring Mind Wanted to Know…

Facebook, Wednesday, December 3, 2008.

I am at the one-year “anniversary” on my inquiry to the Orthodox Christian Church. Upon walking out of St. George Cathedral in Wichita for the first time, December 2, 2007, I knew three things. One, the wind was cold and stiff, which shouldn’t be surprising for Kansas. Two, my musical soul was fed. Three, something about that liturgy was indescribable; I needed to know more. Its impact was immediate: within twenty-four hours, I ceased my journey into worship and music ministry and started asking God for a new direction; everything I had started building into my philosophy for music ministry was already going on in the Orthodox Church.

Wouldn't we all like to know that answer!

The service itself was completely different than anything I had experienced in my life. Incense, saints, icons, priests, vestments, processionals, three languages, candles, and the knowledge it all was bathed in the Word of God. I could not find one aspect of the service or church that hinted at “Six Flags over Jesus” fluff. Unlike other religious experiences, I could not dismiss what I didn’t know as just another way of expressing worship.

Since then, I’ve had my moments:
“Um, what do you mean by Mary being ‘Ever-Virgin’?”
“The apostles had a liturgy?”
“What happened in the last 2000 years that created the denominational mess we have?!?”
“Why do you kiss an icon? Why would you want to kiss a picture?”

Then others:
“I think I should visit a monastery.”
“For the first time, I grieved that I couldn’t take communion with everyone else today.”
“God keeps answering all the road blocks I put up as reasons to not convert!” – Usually said in an exasperated tone.

I’ve read An Introduction to the Orthodox Church, The Orthodox Church, and most of the Conciliar Press pamphlets. I am currently reading a book on the Orthodox view of Salvation and Thirsting for God. Weekly catechism classes have also helped. Oh, I also visited a monastery in early November.

Some of the physical expressions in Orthodoxy—crossing myself, kissing an icon, and lighting a candle for prayer—started more from my sorrow. I felt a need to do something beyond verbally ask for the presence of Christ. At times, I am still uncomfortable with these and wonder their purpose or effectiveness. Yet, I feel it is the constant practice that will eventually lead to understanding. This seems to be a common thread among my convert friends.

I have appreciated knowing more history and doctrine. Dissecting the Nicene Creed and asking multiple questions on every phrase is more than enough to make one realize that God is God and I am not. I am also able to see how The Creed allows for the different cultures to shine forth in unity. We are NOT all the same, praise God, but there must be something deeper than, “Be ethical and respect everyone,” to unify humanity.

After a major upset in the Spring, some people asked if I would continue to attend and investigate the Orthodox Church. I had just enough time to read and ponder along with a healthy dose of Germanic stubbornness that what occurred was NOT going to change my course.

So I moved to Indiana and started attending All-Saints. For the summer, my attendance was limited to Saturday night Vespers. Once I settled in Bloomington, I attended most services as I was able. I was then asked if I would try any Protestant churches in Bloomington. It’s hard to change churches once I start knowing the community, but I wanted to know how much my heart and mind had already converted. I decided to delay a non-Orthodox experience until my visit to Wichita, at which time, I would attend the church where I had been a member.

I’m still not sure of the line between preference and God’s command for the actual service. I do not doubt that America and the world are full of saintly non-Orthodox Christians. However, walking out of my former church in Wichita on November 30, 2008, I knew three things. One, the wind was really cold. Two, my heart and mind have been forever changed the past year. Three, I can not fully describe why I left downhearted. It was familiar and joyful, but required little sacrifice of me except time.

I don’t expect to know the answers, let alone even ask all the questions. Year number two, here I come.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Happy New Year! « tallrayofsunshine


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