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Karl’s Interview, Part V: Embracing Weakness

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Written by Basil on 10/9/2003 9:10 PM. Filed under:

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5) You attend a small Orthodox parish. What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of your parish?
We are all converts, except for some of the children. We have one cradle-O hanging out, and he will possibly transfer in. Being converts is both a strength and a weakness. Because we have experienced conversion from the inside out, we know how difficult this pilgrimage can be. We know that people need space to look around and ask tough questions. We are not afraid of questions from inquirers and seekers, because we have either asked them ourselves or heard most of them before. We know from visiting other parishes how important hospitality is for inquirers.

Recent articles by Mr. Hibbity Gibbity and Seraphim amply illustrate how this strength is also an awful weakness. Though we are familiar with the need for enfleshed love, we can sometimes be harsh in explaining the Orthodox faith to inquirers. We chant, “We have seen the true light; we have found the true faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity.” Sometimes it appears that we believe that having found the true faith is about worshipping the undivided Church — a mistaken inference from our sometimes triumphal and arrogant posture, to be sure. “The best way of all,” as the Apostle St. Paul taught us, is love, and excellent examples of this way are presented to us in the saints of North America, especially St. Herman and St. Innocent.

We are young. We have a great deal of energy for missionary work — both our local mission and overseas. Many of us are MKs — missionary kids — so we understand how much energy this work takes.

We long for grandparents — yia-yias and babushki. Both because they bring their own kind of energy, and because we know that the wisdom of age has a tempering effect on youthful zeal. Being converts, we bring our own kind of spin on the faith. Father T. tells us that we need to get into “yia-yia theology,” that is, the theology of grandmas and grandpas who have grown up and grown old in the Church. Orthodox theology learned from books can become eccentric, like a utopia from the ivory tower. Babushki remind us how to live as human beings in this incarnated faith.

Our strengths are always our weaknesses. In the mystery of Christ’s atonement, he modelled for us the way to be strong in him. By submitting to death, he brought us life. It is by embracing our weakness, embracing our poverty, that we become strong and rich through his presence in us.

One final plug: We are small in number, but nearly all of us can sing — even some who think they cannot. People tell me that our repertory is well beyond many mission parishes older than we are. I find this somewhat amazing, since as a leader I have a vision of the fullness. My choir members have been amazingly hard workers, and it seems to be paying off in congregational participation. (Although part of this is because we are former Methodists and Wesleyans, and singing is what we come to church to do.) The choir has also been amazingly patient with me, and for this I am truly grateful. Since I have officially passed the choirmaster duties along to Gideon, I’ll take this oppurtunity to thank my choir and my parishioners for their hard work and their patience. You guys are better singers than you know. I’m not sure what the corresponding weakness is to this. Maybe somebody can help me out in the comments.

Official Rules

  1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying “interview me.”
  2. I will respond by asking you five questions–each person’s will be different.
  3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
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3 Responses to “Karl’s Interview, Part V: Embracing Weakness”

  1. Bishop Says:

    Sometimes I let the singing and directing get in the way of praying, especially when I have been rushing around before the service trying to get everything ready. I’ll get to the end of a service and be thinking about all of the things that I did not do correctly or about the Prokeimenon that did not go well.

    All of this to say that I think that sometimes pride becomes an issue for those of us musically inclined.

    Bishop (Rick(Gideon))

  2. basil Says:

    I get what you are saying about pride. However, those things are things you are supposed to be thinking about as a chanter and a choir director. Those things are your prayer. They are you doing your part in the midst of the assembly of God. Others get to pray in less reflective ways, but that is not your vocation at this moment in time. Following St. Paul’s analogy, the arm cannot say, “I wish I were an eye.” I’m glad you mentioned this, because it’s an important idea to remember when it seems like you haven’t prayed. It also points up the need for those who facilitate worship among the people of God to have some quiet time to prepare for it.

  3. Karl Says:

    Great interview….I like this new term: “yia-yia theology,” 🙂