For Sunday, July 21, 2013
Year C, Proper 11
For me, the best way to appreciate this passage is not to outline it (despite it’s richness), nor to read a commentary (despite the insights available), but rather to remember standing under the dome of the Church on the Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia. This is my favorite cathedral in all of Russia. To stand within it is to be encompassed by the supremacy of Christ as portrayed in these verses. “He is the image of the invisible God … ” (Col. 1:15).
We in the West, whether Catholic or Protestant (much less evangelical) have much to learn from our Eastern brethren regarding the supremacy of Christ, the significance of the church as his gathered people (v. 18, greek ‘ekklesia’) and of the mystery of the gospel (v. 27).
When ‘Eastern Orthodoxy’ is mentioned in the West, what may first to mind are the phrases “vain repetition”, “idol worship”, or “dysfunctional ethnicity”. Just like in our own Western theological communities, there are warts to be found. Yet there is also a deep beauty, glory, and joy available to those who will inquire appreciatively. This beauty, glory, and joy is something we desperately need in our own expressions of faith both personally and corporately. These same qualities are also what secular people around us may be most drawn to.
Read this passage. Study it. Pray through it. Journal on it. Your heart will be lightened and your eyes brightened. Yet do something else this week. See if there is an Eastern Orthodox place of worship near you. Stop in, even for 10 minutes. Sit quietly before the Lord, and then offer a blessing to the priest or deacon you may find therein. I think Jesus would be very pleased if we did more of this for one another’s communities, despite the differences that distinguish us.
If you have a chance to do so might you briefly report back and share with the rest of us what you experienced?