|Downtown Seattle as seen from the Water Taxi|
The Problem of Ethnic Purity Within the Life of the ChurchWe Orthodox Christians, as a whole, are guilty of abandoning our Christ directed mission of making disciples of every nation, by preserving the needs of ethic groups (Russians, Greeks, Arabs, Serbs), often at the expense of welcoming our non-Orthodox neighbors. Although we can lay claim to having our doors wide open, we often make no effort whatsoever, to actually reach out with a welcoming smile, inviting others to "taste and see". We fear the influx of non-ethnics, lest they change the parish, taking over as it were.
I personally understand this mentality, for I grew up in a time when Lutherans were divided in much the same way. My home town had Swedish, Norwegian, German, Danish, and Finish, Lutheran churches. Never did they interact with one another, nor share joint services. If you were not a member of one of these traditional ethnic groups, you would be hard pressed to find a church where you'd be able to understand the sermon, or sing the hymns. The Lutherans eventually adopted English as the language of their worship, and the ethnic divisions between their churches disappeared.
The problem with ethnic purity within parish life, can be found in the drastic loss of their youth. When young people start dating, they are unlikely to choose someone from within the parish, since most of the social networking takes place within their high schools or colleges. Bringing a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, for a Sunday Liturgy, where the service (and sometimes homily) are in a language that is often not even understood by the young Orthodox Christian, can leave the visitor feeling like an alien. If Russian or Greek are spoken in trapeza, as well, a return visit is highly unlikely.
In a nation where recent polls have found that ninety-five percent of youth do not remain in their churches, once they've left their parents home, we Orthodox have an even poorer record. One jurisdiction has even reported a retention of their youth into adulthood, at an astonishingly low two and a half percent. This translates into the eventual disappearance of whole parishes.
Many protestant denominations have already awakened to the fact that "youth programs" do not work. Young people, whose church experience has been within such programs, do not stay once out on their own. A Greek priest friend told me the same has been experienced within many Greek parishes, where Ethnic dance groups, and Greek language classes, have ultimately failed to keep their youth in church.
Faith, if it is to become a permanent part of a persons life, must take root in the heart, and must become an integral part of one's whole experience, integrated in one's everyday life. We must not allow our Orthodox Christian faith to be compartmentalized in the lives of our children, but to become part of an integrated whole. There can not be a Russian, Greek, or Arab self on Sundays, with the American self relegated to the weekdays. As long as we continue to treat our parishes as preservation societies, and bastions of ethnic heritage, we will to lose our youth.
With love in Christ,
|Vashon Island as seen from the Water Taxi|
|click on photos to enlarge|
Monday May 21, 2012 / May 8, 2012
Sixth Week of Pascha. Tone five.
Venerable Arsenius the Great of Scetis (448).
Venerables Arsenius the Lover of Labor (14th c.) and Pimen the Ascetic (12th c.), of the Kiev Caves.
Translation of the relics (1785) of Venerable Arsenius of Novgorod, fool-for-Christ (1570).
Venerable Hierax of Egypt (5th c.).
The Monks Zosima and Adrian of Volokolamsk (15-16th c.).
St. Emilia (375), mother of Sts. Macrina, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa.
Venarable Cassian, recluse and faster of the Kiev Caves (13-14th c.).
St. Macarius of Ghent, archbishop (1012) (Neth.).
St. Iduberga, foundress of Nijvel (652) (Neth.).
Commemoration of the healing of blinded Stephen by the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Cassiopia.
Hiermartyrs Indract and Comp, at Shapwick.
St. Wiro, bishop of Utrecht.
St. Odger, hierodeacon, of Odilienberg.
St. Milles the Melode, monk(Greek)
You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.
With love and blessings,
Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:
All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA
Preaching Christ at Thessalonica
17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Assault on Jason’s House
5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
Ministering at Berea
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”
49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.
53 Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. 54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.
55 And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do you think—that He will not come to the feast?” 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.
I invite my readers to listen to my Ancient Faith Radio podcasts.