Monday, February 13, 2012

Another stop in my ever-evolving tour of Orthodox Churches around the southeast...

I had occasion yesterday to visit St. Philothea Orthodox Church in Athens, Georgia.  Thanks to Father Anthony and my friend Rose Lieffring, along with the rest of the parish, for being so welcoming!

I love Greek Churches.  I really do.  The beauty of liturgical Greek combined with the hospitality of the people who comprise such parishes is unparalleled.  This was no different.  The food isn't bad either, but unfortunately I was unable to stay for lunch.

I arrived blessedly in time for Orthros and that and the Liturgy were both beautiful.  As I've noted before, different from what we do each Sunday, but utterly the same.  I've written before that the scandal of jurisdictionalism has a positive side effect, in that we can see different ethnic and jurisdictional perspectives on the One Church.  While I pray that scandal is remedied, I also hope (and believe) that it will be remedied while leaving these varied ethnic expressions of the Faith intact.  While visiting a parish is not like being home, and while the slight differences in wording of the Creed and the pre-communion prayers and other portions of the Liturgy are a challenge for a visitor, it is great comfort knowing that the same Faith is preserved.  Father Anthony's homily was outstanding, dealing of course with the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  He did a wonderful job articulating the great comfort we have in knowing that we cannot earn heaven, that the prodigal was celebrated by his father precisely because he came home after having been lost, and of warning us not to adopt the attitude of the brother who chose to criticize his father's welcoming of his lost brother.  He also did a fantastic job of articulating how we do not make a radical distinction between faith and works, instead relying upon grace for both. 

I miss my home parish when I am away.  But what great comfort to know that regardless of where I go, the ancient Faith is usually accessible.  Thanks be to God for that.

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