Continued from here.
Everything I write about the Eastern Orthodox Church in this blog series comes from Daniel B. Clendenin’s Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader. I confess that I knew nothing at all about this segment of Christianity and am fascinated by what I am learning in this book.
The first chapter of this book talks about the worship services because the way the Eastern Orthodox congregants worship is of central importance to their faith, prioritized over both doctrine and discipline. As someone raised in the Protestant church – sampling many different denominations along the way – this is such a different perspective from what I have experienced. With each new denomination I sampled, one of my first questions was what distinguishes this denomination from the others – immersion for baptism? services on Saturdays? specific restrictions for partaking in the Lord’s supper? So, I found it fascinating that in the Eastern Orthodox church, what’s of primary importance is form of worship, not doctrinal differences.
I won’t go into the details of the specifics for worship services, but I would like to talk about the end result: an “unhurried and timeless quality” of a service, which sounds like a slice of eternity to me. One of the ways Dallas Willard challenged me in some of his books was by admonishing me to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from my life. As an American with a Type A personality, hurrying is as natural as breathing. However, there’s no hurry in eternity because we have forever — there’s no reason to rush. So, the thought of attending a service in which hurry is removed altogether sounds attractive to me.
One aspect of God that I find intriguing is that He exists outside of time. Because time is such an important factor in my life (particularly while I am juggling work, school, and family), I cannot wrap my mind around an existence outside of time. From what I have read in this book, it sounds like the Eastern Orthodox church has found a way to provide a sense of this timelessness in its worship services. I can see how this could result in experiencing a slice of heaven during a worship service.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running above the words, “Running late.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]