Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Finding A Parish Home

"Church-shopping" is something I suppose all of us probably do. I know that when we're in England, if we had any other feasible, realistic choice, we wouldn't go to the parish we do. It's quite a closed club.

And if you have two or three or more Orthodox parishes within a reasonable distance from you, it's good to find one where you feel comfortable. For example, you might not like one whose liturgy is all in Greek or Arabic.

But there is a mistake analogous to the ones my friends made (and no, I'm not saying they made this one; it's just that I was reminded of it) and that is to seek a parish worthy of my attendance. Or even a jurisdiction pure enough for me to join. How can I possibly imagine being under the auspices of that cigar-smoking metropolitan, or that archbishop who has been involved in such scandal, or that slack organization?

It's like several of those old jokes:

"Father, the reason I don't come to church is, the people there are all hypocrites."

"My son, there's always room for one more!"

And, "If I ever found a perfect church they wouldn't let me join."

And I recall a time, in my Episcopalian days, when I at last informed the rector, "I'm ready now to join your parish," and he said, "Let me look to see if there are any openings."    !

There has never been a perfect parish on earth and never will be this side of heaven, for the simple reason that we are all imperfect human beings. The Church of Corinth was a total mess even in St. Paul's day - in spite of the great advantage of having had the Apostle himself to found it, to preach to the Corinthian Christians and teach them. Would you have refused to join it?

We bear one another's burdens, put up with one another's faults. Because hard as it is to believe, the day is surely coming, if it hasn't already, when we shall be very grateful the others are bearing with ours.


David Garner said...

"Father, the reason I don't come to church is, the people there are all hypocrites."

"My son, there's always room for one more!"

My grandfather used to say something similar. I was at his house when I was very young, and one of our distant cousins was talking to him about Christianity. The cousin said "I don't go to church because of all them hypocrites!" My Paw Paw barely looked up from his dinner when he said "can't think of anywhere better for 'em to be!"

Very well said, Anastasia. Particularly the part about bearing each others' faults.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

That's priceless! I've already passed it on to others.