Title: Introduction to Orthodoxy 11: Becoming Orthodox
Subject: Becoming Orthodox is a journey and not a destination. What's next?
Age: 16+ years
Prerequisites: Introduction to Orthodoxy 1 Church Tour, 2 Church History , 3 Jesus Christ, 4 Holy Spirit, 5 Salvation,6 Fathers, Saints, and Theotokos, 7 Sacraments, 8 Prayer, 9 Scripture, and 10 Orthodox Spirituality
Becoming Orthodox is a journey and not a destination. Questions for you to reflect on and answer for yourself include:
- What do you all think of this journey?
- Where are you at?
- Where have you come from?
- Where are you going?
- What is next?
The journey involves learning and appropriating. Successively one must take deeper and deeper steps. In life, consider that those things that become rote, repetitive, the things that lack life, lose value. A shark can never stop moving; if it does it will die because it does not have any way of getting water to pass over its gills except through motion. Movement for a shark means life or death, so too for the Christian.
What's next? Whether or not you are Orthodox, the first step is entrance into the Church. One needs to take stock, and one needs to be realistic. To ascend Everest, every climber who makes it to the top of Everest actually climbs it three and a half times before reaching the top. They move up to a camp and rest there, or sometimes they descend and then return. Just one single climber must bring tons of provisions for themselves. They must have the right provisions. Sir Edmund changed only one thing between his failed first attempt and his successful second journey. One must know how to climb. One must be prepared to make the final ascent, to use that last will of strength. This is often the most treacherous part of the journey. One must be able to live in the valley below. Ascending is not the only goal, but also to bring that experience back down to those who are only at base camp. Christ cautioned the disciples to be prepared. Before, they needed no cloak or sword but now Christ instructs them to take two.
"Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying "This man began to build and was not able to finish." Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let them hear!'" (Luke 14.25-35).
Once one enters another's house they must abide by the rules of the house. If you are to call yourself a Christian then you must act like one. First and foremost this is a response. Recall the parable of the servant whose master forgives of him a great sum. The preeminent icon of Christ is that of the one amongst us who serves: The Servant.
Words that describe the Christian life include obedience, love, doxology, martyrdom, and stewardship.
- Obedience: Out of love for God's saving work we are obedient to His commandments. In these commandments we discover life.
- Love: ‘They will know that you are mine because of how you love.'
- Doxology: Praise! Once you have appropriated the great victory of Christ, what can else can you do but rejoice!
- Martyrdom: The word in Greek, martyria, means witness. We must become witnesses of God in the world from disciples to apostles, from those who were taught to those who share what they have learned. Never underestimate the power of your witness, for while the farmer might plant a seed, it is God Who gives the growth. Confessing Christ strengthens our own feeble faith, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief!"
- Stewardship: This includes stewardship of time, talents, and treasure: We are to manage our lives carefully.
Read Yanaras article on Church, chapter 9, pp. 122-124, begin with 2nd paragraph p. 122 and go to the bottom of 124 before the "Renewal of Life" section.
Pass out, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit Quote and read it
Pass out, "Lifesaving Station" article, read it, reflect on it
Optional Activity: Invite the students to write themselves a letter, address it, seal it and hand it back to you to mail out to them in 6 months.
Prepared by Fr. Evan Armatas
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