Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday: New Life From Ashes

First published Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Life From Ashes

For years, despite a daily midnight (or earlier) rising time, we actively belonged to a church nearly 50 miles away from home. Often, we imported two vans full of people. Parish life and newspaper delivery consumed us on Sundays.

Once deliveries were completed, we made the rounds of picking up people. Most were members of the church youth group we oversaw. No two kids lived in the same town. Eastern Orthodox services last ninety minutes, minimum. Following that was additional services, Sunday School, and fellowship. By the time we returned each child to his front porch, it was close to bedtime.

Last year, for many reasons, that Sunday routine fell apart. Church attendance was sporadic at best. Running a caravan became impossible. We muddled through a spiritual wilderness that seemed to have no end.

Then, in the middle of the flu crisis in our household, the former assistant pastor unexpectedly stopped to see us. It wasn’t a social visit; he had an announcement. He wanted to begin a mission church at our house, even if it only served his family and ours. We couldn’t believe it. Church, with all its amenities was coming to us. Hoo! Hoo!

Through the winter, we met twice a month. We wrote a business plan. We planned. We encouraged one another. We conducted a few, small services, then scheduled them with more frequency. We held a Lenten workshop, a round robin of house blessings, and two agape meals. We cheered the day we became "official" and received donations of the items required to celebrate Divine Liturgy.

The first official Divine Liturgy was on Pentecost, outside where growing, green things abounded. It was less than perfect. I was sick and lost my voice after the first round of litanies; my kids struggled to chant the entire service. An occasional motorcycle blasted through the neighborhood. Our priest occasionally lost his place in the service book. Yet, we felt exultant at the liturgy's conclusion. We had begun. We were on our way. It was a glorious feeling.


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