One of the sometimes confusing subjects among christians is that of proper garb before the Lord. I grew up Methodist and thought every preacher worn a black robe on Sunday, and the choir worn maroon robes. This was the way it was. Only after several visits to different churches did I notice that this was not necessarily the default garb for church choirs or preachers.
Among my evangelical brethren when I sojourned with them, preachers wore a suit, or sometimes slacks and a shirt with no tie. They were very vocal that anything other than this simple, “normal” style was no proper. In fact, rich vestments, etc., could lead to all sorts of things which would take people away from God’s truth.
After I met, fell in love with, and married a Lutheran , I became one. In seminary, I learned that the surplice and cassock was ordinary dress for 16th century people, including Lutheran pastors, even if it isn’t regular daily dress today. The Lutheran liturgy, or service, was a modified “Catholic mass”. My Evangelical and Methodist friends mostly suspected that such worship forms often fostered worship of something other than God.
Yet I began to feel it connected me with God more than the simpler service choices of Evangelicals and Methodists. I grew to love it, and it aided me in my worship. This was true for the vestments as well.
Evangelicals and many main line Protestants felt uncomfortable with set read prayers and petitions found in such liturgies. It was less “spiritual” if it was not spontaneous. It took me longer to begin the appreciate such prayers. In fact, most of the “written” standard collects, prayers, and petitions cover very well what I want to say to God in corporate worship It is always more elegant and fluent than my free prayer. Don’t get me wrong. Often I have to address my Father in Heaven with spontaneous words since the situation has not be summed up in a older written prayer. This, however, is my private prayer best done in a closet or silently.
All of this has led to a wide spectrum of worship style and dress among Christians. One small confession – I covet the rich vestments and services found among Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and high church Anglicans. Take a look at these orthodox pictures below. They will give a rich dimension which a majority of Christians expect at worship.
The OCA’s Diocese of New York and New Jersey Communications office has released an interview with their new hierarch, His Grace, Bishop Michael (Dahulich) on the recent Episcopal Assembly:
I also think that Saint Luke, the first iconographer, who—when he paints the picture for us in the Book of Acts of the works of Saint Peter and Saint Paul who were so different in their personalities and their mission—finds unity and that which is common in the Holy Spirit, Who guides the Church. If Saint Luke were painting the icon of our Assembly, I think he would see the same thing here; for him it would be an icon of unity in diversity because he believed so strongly that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church, in spite of what we do as humans: in spite of Judas Iscariot, in spite of Ananias and Sapphira, in spite of Simon the magician … all of whom are referenced in the Book of Acts. So he would see our Assembly, I am convinced—and I see it—with great hope in our unity within diversity.
A new Secretary
His Grace, Bishop Basil (Essey) of Wichita, the newly elected Secretary of the Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America. Bp. Basil is heading up the Secretariat for the Assembly, and in this interview he talks about what that means, as well as his own impressions and experiences from the Assembly.
Bishop Jonah, OCA
Fr. Matah el-Meeskin, head of the Coptic Christian Monastary of St. Macarious at Wadi-el-Natrun, Western desert, Egypt pictured below. Believe it or not, they grow the most flavorful watermelons in their desert gardens there.