I don't just want to just rehash the post that Felicity wrote yesterday. I simply want to add a thought or two to the experience as a means of reflection for myself. I want to think about obedience, hospitality, and contentment.
I went to church expecting another indescribably mystical experience of God's presence through His people, the hymns, and the Eucharist. I didn't get it. What I got was incredibly mundane and full of God's presence. I needed those huge moments in church before to get me here. God knows me, and He knows how I operate. I need something spectacular to draw my attention away from whatever is the most glitzy thing towards the most important. I've had a lot of "mountain top" experiences up until now. This Sunday, however, was blessedly normal.
I don't mean to belittle the church, it's people, or the holiness of the Liturgy. I am only expressing to you that it wasn't anything more than church on Sunday! It was beautiful, sensual, and mystical; but it wasn't explosive or breathtaking. There was no overwhelming sense of the presence of God hovering over the building. I'm glad there wasn't. I needed to see that this service, like so many others around the country, is made up of sinful people in need of Jesus who have come together to worship Him. That was the most important thing I could have experienced. Felicity and I were talking on the way home and she mentioned that we were simply being obedient to what God had called us to do. I suddenly got a picture of the Israelites wandering through the desert, following the firey column. Sure they were following God's brilliant presence, but they were only walking--nothing special about walking. I realized that what I felt was content. What I felt was at home.
The people at this church were the friendliest I have encountered in years. In fact, the last Orthodox service I went to was decidedly unfriendly. No one greeted me. No one made me feel welcome. I got icy stares from old ladies and indifference from the deacon. At this church, I think 8 people made sure we knew about the "coffee" hour (really more of a potluck) afterward. Before the priest had even finished his prayers, it seemed, one of the readers came up and offered to hold A. while Felicity and I went through the lunch line. People made it a point to say hello, to welcome us, to talk about our story and theirs. It was a truly heavenly experience. I felt welcomed, embraced, and loved by everyone in that room.
Contentment is not something I do well with. Like I said earlier, I crave the flashy thing in the room--not the dull brown thing I have. I was incredibly contented yesterday. I liked the people, I had a wonderful experience, and I felt like my family could plant itself in this church and prosper. This coming Sunday we will be at the local Greek church which is both closer and the priest is expecting us. In the most reasonable way possible, it is my contention that this church is going to have to be pretty amazing for us to decide on it over the OCA church. No offense to either, and without trying to be drawn to the flashy thing; our experience was incredible this past Sunday. I hope it is again next week. I want to find a church home here in this new place, and I think we may have found it yesterday. I don't know what I'm really saying anymore, so I'll stop.
Christ is risen!