Christian Tour Part 2: Orthodox

On July 10th, I attended St. George's Orthodox Church in Regina with some friends. It is certainly the most original service I've partaken in and in a rather surprising way, it was refreshing - not something I anticipated in 1500 year old liturgy.

I was late again (thanks to Chris, again ;)). We were invited to sign the guest book as other late attendees crossed themselves before an icon outside the sanctuary. This particular Orthodox Church is Romanian in heritage so the liturgy book had one page in English and the other in Romanian.

The priest had a couple helpers, deacons, who sang various portions of the liturgy as rites were performed at the altar. The chorus was read by a choir and the congregation - all in English thank goodness. The liturgy was a combination of prayers, Bible passages, and affirmations written by St. John Chrysostom over a millennia ago and for the most part, I resonated with it. Only the prayers were not sung, reminding me of how scripture is sung in Judaism too.

Blaise was with me and was quite mesmerized by all the movement at the front. During the short and joyous predication on the meaning of the words Gospel and Evangel, I wrote out a few key words for him to copy out, which he did and gave to the priest at the end of the service (everything Blaise writes is worthy of giving to someone).

During the Communion, only members of the Orthodox faith were invited to partake in the wine, but others were invited to come forward to have bread and receive a blessing. My friend Marc, new to the Orthodox faith, brought a handful of bread back for us.

The icons in the church were striking. I didn't find them particularly inspiring as I don't have any training in their history nor are most of the saints between 100 AD and 800 AD familiar to me. Central to the beautiful rotunda above the altar was a large image painted with gold leaf of Christ, done in perspective so those in the congregation could see Him in proper dimension. Below Christ was a large image of St. Mary holding Christ. I've learned much regarding the importance of Mary in Orthodox theology. First, she is venerated for her lengthy physical contact with God which makes her Blessed Among Women. Second, she was the one who gave Christ his Humanity an essential part of his identity and a core doctrine that was defended many times in church history.

Blaise, Chris and I were recognized as visitors and given a nice card picturing the icon of Christ with the four beasts of Revelation (who in Orthodox tradition represent the 4 evangelists) which spreads across the ceiling of the sanctuary (different from the one on the dome).

We were invited to dinner to Marc's sister's home after the service, so we missed out on the feast at the church to which we were invited to. It was a fundraiser to pay for the new painting and coating on the ceiling of the dome.

I picked up 8 little booklets on Orthodoxy directed at Evangelical Christians to help them understand that since the Orthodox Church has existed virtually unchanged for 1500 years, it is the best expression of the New Testament Church. They certainly have much to teach the Western Church in regards to church history, tradition, practice and theology.

1 comment:

Debby said...

Very interesting and positive blog. Really enjoyed reading about it. Love that you brought Blaise so he could experience it too :)