Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Orthodoxy: Vintage Christianity

Vintage, it has been aged, tested. Thought and beauty are evident; enduring quality, maturity and excellence. Concerning Christianity and faith it is not ramshackle, nor trying to reinvent the wheel. True vintage is not trying to recapture something lost, it simply is.

Orthodoxy is vintaged since 33AD. Its true tons of groups like that date a lot, the difference is in Orthodoxy we claim a concrete continual link, both spiritual and historical. We are not trying to recapture something lost. In Orthodoxy we believe in a Loving God who has always been with His Body, the Church. There is not some point in history where God abandoned the Church because it had become “formal religion.” Have there been some rough points? Sure, but this is a relationship. A relationship between God and humanity. A relationship is about working through things. If God just leaves when mistakes are made (as some thoughts promote) what does that imply about the faithfulness of God? Is He faithful only if no mistakes are ever made? Thats not much of a relationship, and not really very faithful.
Orthodoxy is not just trying to claim the “golden days.” We confess that God has stuck with us through thick and thin, and, by His grace, we with Him. Through saints and sinners. Through great times and bad. Why? Because God is truly faithful, even when we may not be. This faithfulness of God is vital to being vintaged properly. If you won't claim the tough times also, don't claim the vintage. One has to do more than claim a name, one has to live a linage.

Speaking of “golden days,” we believe that is now, today is the day of salvation as St. Paul says. A person gets to “today” by living through all the yesterdays, the good and the ugly. Its not emerging, it is being. Its not a reconstructed puzzle, it is dwelling in the timeless image of God: Christ Jesus. There has been a lot of looking back to the early times of Christianity, and one get the impression that these were perfect days. No doubt great, but not perfect. I read some of the pastoral issues St. Paul dealt with, and, well, I am glad I have not dealt with them. It seems the Church hit the ground running, the battle was instantaneous. In Orthodoxy we have been living the faith for over 2,000yrs. The Church is too busy being alive in Christ to be distracted with “recapturing.”

In a relationship it would be a bummer to always hear your loved one wishing for the “good ol' days,” this would imply that something is wrong with your love today. In Orthodoxy we believe the love of God is infinitely deep. It is the same and, yet, always new. In marriage the goal is to love more deeply; love is a journey. Without the journey, through good times and bad, love will not be vintaged. It is precisely through this steadfastness, in all things and all times, that genuineness is revealed. If we claim God is love, does that not mean that He will be with His Body the Church through every second of this life? If He broke off the original relationship and started afresh at a later date with another group, how could we say God is love? This would imply God is fickle and not steadfast.
If a group or person has not endured the past how will they endure the future?

Something becomes vintaged by enduring. If it is junk, it will fall apart. If it is an imitation time will make it clear. A question of faith should be, does it endure, has it endured? Something of quality lasts.
Christ makes it clear, the Church will encounter hell, but hell will not prevail. Orthodoxy has been to the gates of hell and back.

Vintage is beyond persons and their individual opinions. It is beyond the confines of time. It is found in living the Christian life as it always has been. In living we are brought into the timeless experience of Christ and His Body; here a person abides in the vivifying grace of God throughout all the ages. Here a person is grafted into the eternal Body of Christ, and there, through the Holy Spirit, a person becomes immortal. Not by virtue of oneself, but because the revelation comes: I cannot make this up, this is beyond any of my dreams or ideas, here is truly the mystery of God.
Come partake of Christ's vintage, it is wonderful beyond words.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Eternal Faith

Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. Empires are exalted and then fade into the dust of time. Nations are established and overthrown. 

Yet, for over two thousand years Orthodox Christianity has been standing the test of time. 

It was born in blood under the pagan Roman Empire; grew within Roman Byzantium; withstood the brutal onslaught of the Ottoman Turkish Empire; witnessed the rise and fall of Tsarist Rus'; and endured the most brutal persecutions yet known to humanity under Humanistic Communism. 

It is faith that has been tested in the furnace of time and has been found to be true. 

It is faith that has partaken of the sorrows of mankind, it is faith that has participated in the joys of life. 

It is ever new and youthful and yet ancient and wise. It is the Christian faith personally handed down in loving awe throughout the ages by millions upon millions of men, women and children.

 It is found within time and yet is timeless. It is the Church of Jesus Christ alive and well today. It is the eternal Faith existing in a mortal world.