Thursday, November 18, 2010

Learn, Unlearn, Relearn

When we returned to California we started looking for Orthodox churches in the area and lo and behold there was a Greek church in walking distance from where we were parked: St. John the Baptist in Anaheim.

We went expecting much of the same, and we did get that, but a lot was different too. The church was huge, white, and spread out. Holy Resurrection was small, woody, dark, and a bit claustrophobic. Holy Resurrection was in English. St. Johns was all in Greek and everybody but us was Greek. There is one service a month that is in English, but we were obviously not at that service. We did a lot of staring and reading of pamphlets. So our second go around wasn't that great.

The discovery of the services not being in English led me to research churches that were in English. That is when we came across St. Barnabas Orthodox Church. St. Barnabas immediately caught my attention because the priests were a part of a group of Christians that were key people in Campus Crusade for Christ. This group went looking for what the early church was really like and to their surprise they found it already existed in Orthodoxy. A bunch of them became Orthodox and some of them were now at St. Barnabas. Below is a video of their story.

So the next Sunday we went to an business office park in Costa Mesa and there on a glass door was marked, "St. Barnabas Orthodox Church". You could have mistaken it for any other business in the area. And then we went in. Again, like at Holy Resurrection, many of my senses were assaulted, but this time, not overwhelmed. Inside the main room, the service had already started and the choir was singing and to my surprise, I was holding back tears. At this time, I had a lot of questions and was nowhere near getting on board with Orthodoxy or even knew what it meant to do so. But none the less, that is what happened. I was weepy. That joyous type of weepy one gets when something amazingly good, unexpected, and undeserved is happening in your life.

After the service ended we went outside and struck up a conversation with some college age parishioners who let us ask all the questions we wanted. This led to lunch and more conversation that continued for over four hours. This happened every week for months. Sometimes after Wednesday night service we would stay up till 1 in the morning talking about all things Orthodoxy. The things we heard, we both liked and disliked. Somethings were wonderful to hear and others were very difficult. But we kept coming back every Sunday. At first, I kept coming because for an hour and half, once a week, I could be in a place that regardless of what I was comfortable with doctrinally, I knew God would be revered. But slowly, overtime, I simply fell in love with this church.

Rather than leave California in February to do some more traveling we decided to stay till April for Pascha. We participated in Lent and the fasting that takes place during that period, we observed Holy Week which took me to new heights spiritually, and then Pascha itself. Pascha was awesome! Laura said so herself and you can read all about it here on the post she wrote which does a much better job at describing it than I can.

From time to time, I still get that kind of weepy I mentioned before, but now I know I understand better what is resonating with me. After a long journey through mountains and valleys, both spiritually and literally, we were coming....


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