July 04, 2005

Adventures in Orthodoxy

Yesterday, I visited an Eastern Orthodox church. Everything was fine, except I went down for communion--and I wasn't supposed to. The usher waved me over, so I stepped into the aisle. My friend Cameron tried to get my attention, but I didn't hear him. It wasn't until I got up to the front that I remembered that non-Orthodox-type people such as myself aren't supposed to take communion in an Orthodox church. So I had a little panic attack, and Father Bill asked me if I was Orthodox. I said no, redfaced. He said, "Okay, well just give you a blessing, then," and crossed himself. It was ungodly embarrassing.

Aside from that little incident, it was a great experience. As I've mentioned, for some reason Eastern-sounding music and chants sound very devoted and religious to me, which I love. And the solemn atmosphere gave me the opportunity to be still and reflective and reverent, something I rarely experience in church.

I don't know if I'll be hopping on the Orthodox wagon, though. I'm honestly having a little trouble with "high" religion. What I love about liturgy and ritual is that it's order and discipline, an expression of devotion by submitting myself to a structure for an hour and forty-five minutes. But I can also see myself getting bogged down in all the stuff --- and I'm very aware that Jesus most sharply criticized those who were showy about their religion.

I guess it's a matter of keeping your heart in the right place, which a person has to do in any worship setting. No luck getting out of that one.

Whether or not I'll start going to an Orthodox church has less to do with liturgy than with the fact that I've become convinced that the point of church is coming together --- synagogue. It's all a matter of whether or not I'll find community/fellowship/koinonia in an Orthodox church, which I have a few doubts that I will, simply because I saw so few people my age there.

It was a good Sunday, though, communion or no.

Posted by jessica at July 4, 2005 04:30 PM