Christ is Risen!
I know, I know…a weird title. But for some reason it’s been on my mind lately, with absolutely no disrespect intended.
As a Baptist, I was always well-warned of the dangers of ritual and tradition. They were BAD, and to be avoided like dancing, Catholics, and the movies. We didn’t cross ourselves, we had no creeds, we never knelt in church, and rarely, if ever, said the Lord’s Prayer. In all seriousness, I heard quite often about the command to abstain from “vain repetitions.”
The key there, though, is the whole “vain” thing. We’re not commanded to avoid repititions, any more than we are commanded to avoid speaking the name of God. What we are commanded to do is to not do such things in a vain, or useless manner. The sin is not in the saying or the doing, but in saying or doing in a way that means nothing, is useless, or trivializes that which is holy. (I would argue that much of what passes for contemporary Christian culture smacks of invoking the name of God in vain, but more on that later.)
Growing up, I believed that the more you said or do these things, the less they meant. Those who had been raised in those liturgical churches could not possibly mean what they said or did all the time. That’s part of the dangers of those churches, I was told, that trapped in all the vain repeating, the truth of the Gospel is lost. So it was a big adjustment for me to get used to all the trappings of Orthodoxy, even now as an Orthodox Christian. Venerating the cross, reciting the Creed and Lord’s Prayer, and daily written prayers from *gasp* a prayer book, all felt very foreign, scary, and a tad sinful. The error, of course, was not in my actions, but in my perceptions.
The more I reflected on WHAT I was doing, HOW I was doing, and WHAT it meant, the more I understood the theology behind my faith in general, and the more I felt God’s hand drawing me to Himself.
(Here comes the teabag connection.) It was as if I became steeped in theology, my life infused with the richness of the knowledge of God’s love and His great gift of salvation.
This week, this kind of hit me–my life as a teapot, filled with the Holy Spirit, and infused with the Body of Christ, His Holy Church. (I know this analogy breaks down on some levels, but work with me here.) I have to be open to it. I have to believe it, I have to receive it, and I have to do it. No one will do it for me. And if I’m not willing, or not serious, or don’t believe, well, that’s on me.
I am finding, the longer this goes on, I know more about Christian history, Christian theology, and the beauty of the Mystery. I’m able to relax in those things I can’t know. I trust Him more. And church MEANS more because everything I do there means something. I am not just gathering together, and listening.
I am doing. I am receiving. I am steeping.