Monday, April 25, 2005

Fr. Jim Rosselli on the Mission of Orthodoxy

Fr. Jim Rosselli, a clergyman of the Orthodox Church of Canada (Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church), has some very thought-provoking words on the mission of Orthodoxy in the world. As we enter into Holy Week, let us attend:

Orthodoxy's mission in the world is simple: witness Jesus Christ.

It has always been simple. The Lord didn't tell us to develop a spirit that would divide us into parties, He forbade it. But we do it anyway. He didn't tell us to lock outrselves up in attractive buildings and wait for Him to deliver people to us: He told us to go out into the highways and byways and compel men into the feast. But we hide out, anyway. Jesus didn't tell us to mutter weak, safe, pious-sounding prayers, but to pray in expectant faith, imagining we already have what we are asking for. He told us to heal the sick and raise the dead, and He promised that signs and wonders would accompany the preaching of His Word. Instead, we edge away from spiritual exuberance, fearing the ridicule of those who set themselves up to ridicule anyone whose head happens to stick up and who regard smiles in worship as targets.

When someone says, "say a prayer for me," do we mutter, "sure will," and then forget about him? or do we lay hands upon him then and there, bringing him before the Lord with genuine love and concern, in expectation that the Lord, Who loves him and is more concerned for him than we could ever be, will enter his life and repair it?

This is simple stuff. It's stepping out of my box, and stepping into a hurting and collapsing world, bearing the Holt Spirit and bringing Jesus.

That's the mission of Orthodoxy in the world. That's all it ever was.

We abdicated, and gave it to the Protestants to do. Instead of leading them, we fumed and resented them. When they made a mess of the stuff, we bought ourselves off by saying the stuff was never meant to actually be done, in the first place.

For lack of leadership, they collapsed. Their great confessions apostasized, and became the World, and various National, Councils of Churches. Too late, we decided we would lead them after all, and joined their organization expecting an embrace and a welcome. Instead, they greeted us as we deserved: as negligent parents who had turned them out on the street to go bad, who didn't need us anymore.

Having run out of others to disdain, we took to disdaining each other. Now it's Russians vs. Greeks; Old World vs. New World; SCOBA vs. everybody. And that's even before you get to the infighting we do among ourselves!

It's all a waste of time.

The mission remains the same, and as simple, as it ever was: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit prisoners, heal the sick, raise the dead and preach the Gospel in the midst of it all that the Name and the Presence of Jesus Christ might be exalted above all peoples and lands and nations, and that He might dwell within the hearts of men.

The mission never changed, and never did the invitation to pursue it. We can start any time we'd like--uplifting each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us by the renewal of our minds, discovering and being who we are in Christ--and then going out into a world full of the empty lives and shattered dreams of broken icons of God--bearing with us the Serum for what ails them.