Friday, January 28, 2005

The Great Commission Team or How I ended up on this committee and what we are working on now

At St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Portland, OR (that’s where we go to church), my DH and I are member of the Missions and Evangelism committee aka The Great Commission Team. We have been a part of this committee for a few years, now. I think it all began when I was asked to give my “journey to Orthodoxy” story to a group of non-Orthodox at someone’s home. Since I had never been asked this question it turned out to be a very thought-provoking process for me to recall my own “journey within Orthodoxy” (note the change of wording from “to” to “within” as both my husband and I are cradle Orthodox and neither of us ever left the Church, although we definitely had our ups and downs growing up in the Faith). Someday I will blog about my journey, but right now I am trying (in a very round-about way) to explain why we are on this committee. The reason that we were asked to participate in this discussion/presentation is that the question came up as to what happened to the Greeks? The Russians? The Serbs? The Arabs? How come there are lots of converts that are trying to share Orthodoxy with their friends and families but you never actually meet any ethnic Orthodox? And our parish is made up of mostly converts so it is an appropriate question. I was asked to share my journey as a cradle-ethnic Orthodox (my husband has the blessing of being a cradle Orthodox, but not an ethnic Orthodox). That’s why I refer to us as being the “token cradles” on this committee (and my husband will be the first to tell you that he never, ever thought he would marry a Greek girl because he was going to marry a nice Orthodox girl… hehehe).

So within this committee we are currently working on two projects (which, by the way, if you every move to Portland and decide to join our parish, this is the committee to be on… we read books, have discussions, delve into our faith… it’s amazing). OH, and by the way, and I am not sure why this is, but I am also the token woman on the committee. Back to our two projects. The first is that we came up with a list of frequently asked questions that non-Orthodox ask regarding Orthodoxy. Our short list of 39 questions is rather daunting. What we hope to do with this list of questions is answer them within the group (hence the great discussions) so that we understand our own faith. Below are the first four questions and the answers that we came up with for them. I have typed them in an outline format (because that is how I think). I am going to also post a list of all the questions for you to peruse at your leisure. Please comment and let me know what questions you are usually asked or, if you remember, what questions you asked prior to becoming Orthodox. And if you aren’t Orthodox, welcome and add your own questions, too (or, better yet, comment about which questions you would like to have answered).

1. You’re Jewish, right?
No- Orthodox means correct faith/worship- correct viewpoint.
Orthodox Jew – follows Judaism in its fullness
Orthodox – truth in the face of heresy
Term formally used post schism
Catholic = according to the whole

2. You’re just like the Catholic church but in the east.
Papal infallibility, worship of Mary, schism in 1054
Orthodox not Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic left Orthodoxy
We have an unbroken line to the apostles
*ask the person how do you define Catholic to find out what they are getting at

3. Don’t you worship Mary/ Can Mary save us?
No- worship is reserved only for God.
Honor Mary’s role in salvation history
Savior (Christ) v. someone who helps (Mary)
*to honor Mary is to honor and believe in the potentiality of Christ in our life.

4. Are you saved?
He who believes (continuous)
Persevere in your belief
Saved- language we don’t use in the Church, we don’t judge

In the coming months, as we meet, I will post our answers to the questions. Our second project involves creating a Basics in Orthodoxy curriculum for Fr. T. So far, we have an outline of what will be discussed in each class (I will post that outline next week, I don't want to overwhelm my blogging fan club with too much information...hahaha).

Missions and Evangelism Committee Questions

Here are a list of questions we as a committee came up with regarding the Orthodox Church (our version of FAQ's by non-Orthodox to Orthodox). Please read the above entry for more information on why I am posting this:)

If you have a question to add, please comment... answers to come in the coming months.

Questions regarding the Orthodox Church:

You’re Jewish, right?
You’re just like the Catholic Church, but in the east.
Don’t you worship Mary? Can Mary save us?
Are you saved?
Do you fall under the pope? (and get back up again.. he he he)
You must be Greek (or Russian, etc.)
Are you a Christian?
Questions pertaining to the infallibility of scripture and our belief in the Bible.
Do you ordain women?
Do you believe that Communion is the body and blood of Christ?
What do you believe about cremation?
Why can’t I receive communion in the Orthodox Church?
Do you have priests?
Why do you call your priest father? “…call no man father…”
Why are your priests allowed to marry?
Why do you fast?
Salvation is based on faith alone and is not related to works
Protestant notion of grace v. the Orthodox idea of grace and what is the different understandings of the word ‘salvation’.
How do we understand propitiation and expiation?
How and when are we saved?
Questions pertaining to prayers to saints.
The use of icons.
Infant baptism and baptism in general.
What is the Orthodox understanding of the sacraments?
How does the Orthodox view of tradition impact our faith and cause us to view scripture and the Church differently?
The Orthodox understanding of monasticism.
Do you believe that Orthodoxy is the only way to Christ?
Why is it that Orthodox Christians do not evangelize?
The Orthodox understanding of prayers for the dead.
The incarnation and its impact on our worship.
Can you lose your salvation? –predestination
Free will and the sovereignty of God
What is the Orthodox understanding of rapture?
Are you born again?
Interpretation of scripture by the Fathers, by an individual, or by the pope.
Septuagint v. Masoretic texts for the Old Testament and their use in the New Testament.
When Christ asked Peter three times “do you love me?” was a different word for ‘love’ used in the original Greek or was it the same word for all three questions?
I thought Jesus was the mediator between God and man.
Formal v. informal prayers (repetitive) and the nature of prayers.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Out of town for the weekend

We are going to be out of town this weekend. We are going up to Tacoma, WA to say goodbye to our god-daughter (and her family). They are moving to the mid-west. Paul actually went to college with them at Michigan Tech (it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small, small world). Enough of the singing. We are going to truly miss these friends. They are shining stars of Orthodoxy and just plain old great conversationalists! Never a dull moment in their home. They inspired my husband to actually decide that it would be alright if we had children:) We are, of course, happy for them and sad at our own loss. God-willing, we will be able to get together with them because Paul's family lives in the mid-west (and one of Paul's potential clients might be in Pittsburgh... so who knows, God knows:)

That's been on my mind lately, friends leaving. We another family that will be leaving our church community. They have also been true friends to us (even to the point that when we were in Greece, we stayed with them). But they are not moving as far away and we know that we will see them. Lots of goodbyes to be said in the next few weeks.

Everything else is going well. I have pretty much decided to at least try the candle thing. I am going to continue to substitute teach (unless the candle thing really gets going) which is what I did today. A part of me loves it when teachers assign a movie for the class period, but a part of me also dreads it. Having to watch the Apollo 8 mission to the moon four times today really isn't that exciting (at least this movie was better than the '80's movie warning kids about the harms of using steroids). Pavlos is awesome. He loves to sing. His favorite song right now is you are my sunshine. Very cute. And Paul is doing well. He had his work review and they are recommending that he get a raise! I never thought that I would rejoice over money. But this gets us one step closer to being able to afford a home while keeping me (mostly) at home.

When I return (probably Monday or Tuesday), I will write up some thoughts on our missions and evangelism committee. We are members (the token cradles) of this committee and we have such wonderful discussions every time we meet! So I thought that I would write up some of the different discussions we have had (especially because I already have to type up the notes from the meetings... makes for a very convenient blog).

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Candles, ice, and football

I’m thinking about becoming a Partylite candle consultant. Yeah, never thought I would venture to sell things, but we are trying to find creative ways for us to bring in a little extra money that doesn’t involve tight, rigid schedules (trying to avoid day care for Pavlos… it just isn’t an option). So, I hosted a candle party last week and it went fine. During the party the consultant (who happens to be a local Presvytera) suggested I look into it. Now I am going to go to a meeting with her in early February and we shall see from there. My dad hates the idea of selling things (that’s funny, he owns his own business) and believes that I will only make enemies of my friends (by asking them to have candle parties for me). My mom is totally in support of it, she thinks it’s the greatest idea ever, and Paul says I can do whatever I want. So hopefully I won’t make too many enemies of my friends (because I don’t have a heck of a lot of friends anyway) if I do decide to go forth with this venture. I will keep the blog world posted:)

It was very cold here over the weekend. No snow, but some great ice. We only left our house to go to my parents home (a short two miles away). They have a wonderful woodstove and we have some horrible little heaters. We watched lots of football (dad is a Steeler’s fan and since the Packer’s are out of the running…) and let Pavlos play with his favorite people in all the world (my mom and dad). We weren’t able to make it to church on Sunday which made the whole weekend feel slightly bizarre and really, really long. Honestly, I am tired of football (can I say that? Yes, my DH never reads this blog). Paul wants me to watch with him and he usually falls asleep so I am left sitting on the couch. I told him I did not want to watch football yesterday afternoon and he was hurt. But I am ok telling him that, he refuses to watch Pride and Prejudice with me (which is one of my all time favorite movies).

That’s all for today. If you have any input on the candle selling idea, let me know (go ahead, post a comment). And be honest:)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

It’s the little things in life… OR what’s been on my mind lately…

three reflections:

Thanksgiving: I haven’t been on the computer much since last Thursday (guess that makes it a week). Our provider was down on Friday. So, I just assumed that because it wasn’t up on Saturday that it was still not working (makes sense, right?). And Sundays are such crazy days (a good kind of crazy, right?) that I don’t even turn on the computer. Monday rolls around and our internet service still isn’t up. So I make the dreaded call to the internet provider and I am on hold for 23 minutes. YIKES! Ok. So they will send someone out on Tuesday morning (between 8-10 AM). If it is their fault, we do not get charged. If it is our modem, we will get charged $50 for the guy telling me my modem does not work. I figure that since the lights seem to be working on the modem, it must be their problem. I schedule the appointment. The service tech comes at 8am (right on time) and after hooking up his modem to the cable, he declares that our modem must not be working. UUUGGGHHH! $50 in the hole and now we have to buy a new modem. Last night we bought a new modem and hooked it up to the cable and low and behold, it does not work. So I tell DH that he is going to have to call Comcast because I am tired of this (and anyway, Paul is the computer geek, oh, I mean, guy in the family). This was about 10pm last night. Comcast sends out a tech at 6:50am and he discovers that a squirrel has been chewing on the outside wire. YIPPEEEEE! We do not have to pay the $50 service charge AND we get to return the new modem! Thank you God, because money is pretty scarce around here.

Revolving door: I have a list of questions to ask oneself (it’s from St. Anthony’s Monastery) before going to confession. One of the questions says something about letting your mind wander during services. Does that include letting your feet wander, out the door, with a noisy child? Theophany services ended up being one of those services where ALL the young children were praising God in their own way (hey, I’m trying to be positive). It was like a revolving door with the parents taking children out of church then bringing them into church only to have to take them out of church again. Most of the time, the younger children are pretty well behaved. Oh, there’s the occasional Sunday where it’s Pavlos’ turn to be the loud kid at church, but mostly it seems to be a rotation among the children (as if they called each other up the night before and discussed who would get to be the disruptive one). Every few months it is as if there is something in the air that there will be a service where ALL of the children decide to be the loud kids at church. Do not know what it is (although someone pointed out that maybe it is the evil one because we were all at a feast day service).

Always a bridesmaid, but, oh wait, I have been a bride:) My sister and I are going to be bridesmaids in my brothers wedding. Pretty exciting. My DH, Paul, and her DH, Leo, will be groomsmen (which means we get to walk down the aisle with our respective husbands which works out wonderfully). So the bridesmaids dresses have been picked out. And, they are strapless (but we will be wearing a shawl in the church during the ceremony). Now, my sister and I just don’t do strapless (or, actually, we have never done strapless and aren’t sure if we are ready to do it). My future sister in law told me, though, that if I were to become pregnant (or my sister, for that matter), there is an alternative, non-strapless maternity dress (which means it does have sleeves) that comes in the same color. She told this to me because we lost a baby in August and really, really want another one (God’s plan, not mine, God’s plan, not mine). Now, I feel like I have another reason to get pregnant… the maternity bridesmaid dress. Is that extremely materialistic of me? I don’t know.

Thanks for reading my thoughts...