Does History Matter?

April 7, 2010

First Council of Nicea

I’ve been surprised when some Christians have a “so what” reaction to early church history. I guess they figure that if their belief is true, then it doesn’t really matter what has happened in the past. If they do show any reverence or interest in history, it never includes a time period that precedes the Protestant Reformation.

I can remember this sentiment. We didn’t go looking for the historical church – we knew so little about it that the thought never even occurred to us. Instead it found us and hit us with its full force. And quite suddenly there were many things which we could no longer ignore; ideas that we could no longer be wishy-washy about.

I think that any Christian who takes their faith seriously must also take the early church seriously. Without the early church, there is no faith. There is no teaching of the apostles. There is no creed. There is no Bible. There is no example of countless Christians who took their faith so seriously that they were willing to die for it. Without the early church, we would not know who Jesus was. We would not know about God beyond the books of the Old Testament. We would not know orthodox doctrine. Truth – and subsequently our path to salvation – has been handed down to us from our forefathers in the faith.

Does history matter? If you take true faith seriously, then yes – history is of utmost importance. If you ignore history, you are missing out on the fullness of faith.

Pascha

April 4, 2010

I’ve been thinking about Pascha for many months – ever since I learned that we would be at church at midnight!

We arrived at church around 11:30pm as we wanted to make sure that we were there for the procession. It was packed. We could barely make it in the door. And once we were in, we really couldn’t see too much. As with the Holy Friday Vespers, the mood and music was somber. The temple was very dark.

After about thirty minutes we had to go outside because someone was getting cranky. A few minutes later the procession began.

The people leave the dark church building singing, carrying banners, icons, candles, and the Gospel. The procession circles the outside of the church and returns to the closed front doors. [1]

As we process around the church we each hold a candle and sing

Thy Resurrection, O Christ our Savior, the angels in heaven sing, enable us here on earth to glorify Thee in purity of heart.

And then…

The doors are opened and the faithful re-enter. The church is brightly lit and adorned with flowers. It is the heavenly bride and the symbol of the empty tomb. [1]

We didn’t last much longer than that, unfortunately. We were home shortly after 1am. Next year we hope to make it until the feast afterwards – which usually begins around 2:30am.

[1] http://orthodoxwiki.org/Pascha

Holy Friday Vespers

April 3, 2010

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we attended Vespers this afternoon. All I knew was that today is obviously Good Friday and the parish schedule announced “Vespers with Burial Procession.”

Wow. It was an amazing service. The songs were very beautiful yet haunting. The mood was somber and intense. At least half of the people there were wearing black. There was a very serious reenactment of the removal of Christ’s body from the cross (this was absolutely nothing like the skits I have seen in other churches… very serious and no cheese factor here). Next year I would definitely like to invite my family to this one. I think that my parents would have liked it.

It definitely made me feel excited for the Pascha (Easter) procession/Matins/Liturgy that begins tomorrow night. We plan to arrive around 11pm and stay…. well I don’t know how long we will make it, especially with a toddler who is pretty accustomed to sleeping at that hour. We will play it by ear. As the mother of a young child I admittedly feel anxious about losing so much sleep, but this only happens once a year and I have a feeling that we will survive.