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Conversation and reflection on the practical ministries of the Orthodox faithful.
Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
More than 80 representatives of the nation's Orthodox Christian service organizations joined together at the White House on Friday, December 14, to discuss strategic service alliances with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The White House Conference on Orthodox Christian Engagement was hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement in conjunction with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and facilitated by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
When you enter into the presence of a saint, you enter into sacred space. Things shift into slow motion and everyone’s attention is pulled toward the holy hermit lying sick on a bed while hundreds of people pass by, asking his prayers, taking his blessing and soaking in his Christ-likeness.
This is what I experienced yesterday.
Sabah, a divorced mother of eight, was home alone with her youngest child when a fiery skirmish struck near her doorstep in Damascus. The two fled to a nearby school to seek shelter. As the fighting spread, Sabah and her young son moved on to a second and then third shelter, seeking safer living arrangements. While Sabah hopes that her seven older children are with their father, she has had no contact with any of them or received any news of their whereabouts. She says the heavy emotional burden of not knowing where her children are keeps her awake at night and unable to focus on anything else. “I suffer from muscle spasms every time I think about my family circumstances which now I live in,” she laments.
I often refer to my Pinterest boards as my idea bank where I make frequent deposits to a board and enjoy withdrawing ideas as often as possible. Recently, I bought the necessary items to complete a project with my family for a photo I had pinned. After completing the project and giving one of them away, my kids and I were not even remotely expecting the reaction we received.
Our church had a strange problem: we had a ton of visitors. Many of them would pop in during the liturgy, and then they were gone in a flash when it was time for coffee hour.
“Did you see that new family that came today?” We’d overhear other parishioners asking each other. “Their kids were the same age as ours. I was hoping they would stay for coffee hour, but they were gone before we could say hi to them.”
Think back to those impressionable years in your early twenties. Hopefully you can recall with gratitude at least one or two "mentors" who made a significant impact in your life like a professor, favorite aunt, retreat speaker, church elder, or first manager. What was it about these people that rendered them so meaningful in our youth?
Our Lord and our God goes by many names. “Life-Giver” is one of the finest. I have found Life through many things this past year. Dwight has been a conduit of Life to me. He was and is a true Christian brother in that sense. I would give Jesus even one more title though, Heart Surgeon.
This post has been mulling around in my head for a while. It’s a hard one to write. No one ever sees themself as pushing people away from the Orthodox church. But it happens every Sunday. I’ve seen it, and you probably have too.
I am especially sensitive to welcoming visitors and not judging them, because I came back to the church after being away for years. Many people welcomed me, but many were not so welcoming (to put it nicely).
I’m not keeping score, but meanness and judgment are a big problem in the Orthodox church. Whether it’s the intensely observant person in the back or an over-zealous convert, there is no excuse for the way some newcomers to the church are treated.