Today I returned to St. Luke's Orthodox Church for one of four services that incorporates the Canon of St. Andrew. All the sights, smells and movement of Orthodox worship along with the chants and songs make the experience a total immersion into a state of awe. Or maybe it just feels that way to a Baptist.
I must admit, though, that today I was prepared for the words of St. Andrew, but left with another image altogether. Among the many icons displayed in the church there are several of Mary and a young Jesus. At the service was a devoted mother with her beautiful young son. There is no nursery in the Orthodox Church. Everyone is together, and if the children need a snack or want to walk around, well everyone else just goes with it. For the surroundings to be so elegant and ornate, it's a surprisingly kid friendly atmosphere. The child present today was very well behaved, and no one minded the occasional whiff of his Funyuns along with the candles and incense. After the service, I went to the hospital to visit a friend whose young adult son has been in intensive care for over a month. As hope for his full recovery diminishes, her anguish increases. No heartache seems to exceed that of watching one's own child suffer. All day the image of these three mothers and sons have been in my mind. I don't have eloquent words to explain my feelings, but it my thoughts kept coming back to the fact that God chose to make Himself known to us not as a king or warrior, but through membership in a family. Every family is a holy family.