So at the request of a dear friend, who points out my laziness with his enthusiasm, I am blogging. But it’s the Theophany anyway, and I always seem to blog at Theophany (if you don’t believe me, check it out…it’s true)
We (my family, now a gang of nine not counting dogs–if you count dogs, well, let’s not count dogs) celebrated Christmas on New Year’s, which is not a bad way to welcome in the next round of 12 months. And is our way, we can’t get together around the 150-year-old dining room table without a theological debate (sorry, Grandma). I do think it was Bob that started it this year.
Tagging up on so many big issues–Calvinism, the Apocrypha, free will–my brain got stuck on two things: Salvation and Submission. I’ll get to Salvation later (maybe next time I blog, next Theophany. Just kidding.)
For now: Submission.
It’s not an easy word, not to hear, not to say in relationship to your responsibility and most certainly not to act on.
And anyone that knows me even the teensiest bit knows that it is not a trait I possess. I am stiff-necked, willful and will usually go too far if left unattended even though I know better. But in this, in leaving Protestantism for Orthodoxy, that’s what it is for me. That’s what it came down to. Submission.
People have said to me, about their own behavior, their own choices and their own will, that they don’t submit to the Church, they can’t. They submit to God and what He wants for them. They don’t want to, or can’t, allow anything in between to dictate their actions, maybe out of a misunderstanding that the Church is actually between like a roof, instead of between like a stem connecting a flower to a root. But whatever, I understand that hesitancy, that reluctance.
But God, whom I submit to (albeit awkwardly), told me to submit myself to His Church. So that means that I cannot submit myself to Him and not accept that which He has for me, anymore than a infantryman can say to his captain “yes, sir” and then completely ignore the directives of his sergeant whom the captain has placed over him.
My Chrismation vows, which I take seriously (because words matter, symbol matters–they connect us to reality), I confessed my belief in the teachings of that Church. I said “yes, sir.” I chose to submit.
I hadn’t realized how foreign that concept was to me, and to those who are outside the Orthodox Church, until I thought about it later. I believe these things I didn’t used to believe in–a Sacramental view of Holy Communion, baptism as a saving action, the role of Tradition in making me more like Christ. And I know this for sure: I didn’t believe them as much when I read that Creed at the back of the Church during my Chrismation as I do know. But I trusted that if I jumped into it, I’d learn to swim or at least not drown in it. Or going back to my original analogy, I trusted that my Captain had put someone in charge of me who could handle me and get me from point A to point B safely and victoriously. Thanks be to God, so much more of that belief has come. The more I surrender to the Truth of His Church, the more it protects me and guides me. The more I willingly take what it offers me, the closer I get to Him.
It’s nice how that works out.