My personal theme or catch phrase is to live a "Wholly-Holy" life. My book touches on how we take care of our physical body, but being a wholly-holy person obviously goes far beyond that. So as Thanksgiving approaches this week, I want to tell you how becoming more whole in my Christian journey is what I am thankful for this year.
Both my husband and I were raised in Non-Denominational Churches. We grew up in what would be considered contemporary worship settings. When we got married we continued the “Non-Denom” world where he was on staff as both a worship leader and associate pastor for a few different churches. (Not at the same time). Our experience as believers was a pretty laid back atmosphere with the kind of worship music we hear on K-Love radio. This is a great atmosphere for many young people as it seems to mesh well with the mood of younger generations. We felt comfortable in this setting and looked at the traditional “Orthodox” Churches as out of touch and certainly missing the new thing God was trying to do. (Yes, I know, I am telling on myself a lot here). Then about six years ago the Lord began to shift our vantage point. He began to take us back to the Hebrew Roots of our faith. We began and incredible journey of learning about the Jewishness of our Rabbi, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach ; Jesus the Messiah. We studied the bible from a Hebrew mindset and learned about the Temple service, the Feasts of the Lord, the Sabbath and so on. We developed a love for Israel and the Lord put it on our heart to start a teaching and support ministry called Word Made Flesh. Now He had given us a whole new view of the Bible and the God of Abraham. We began to enjoy hearing liturgical prayers and the rituals of our Judeo/Christian Faith drew us closer and closer to the Jesus we love! I am so thankful for the relationships God has given us with Orthodox Jews in the Land of Israel who have helped us see God from a whole different view but God wasn’t finished taking us on our vantage-point-tour yet.
Just a little over a year ago the Lord brought a few key people into our life. For Roman it was the Pastor of the First United Methodist Church. For me it was a Catholic friend. These relationships brought up new topics of conversation for us about God’s Word and about worship. I had never been to a Catholic service and so my friend invited us to come on Palm Sunday. . . .my husband and I both cried through the whole service! From the priest circling the altar with burning incense, to the holy water, to the cantering of the Psalms; the service made perfect sense to us. Six years ago we would have considered it odd, but God had prepared us with Hebrew study so that the worship made sense!
Romans friendship with the Methodist Pastor had grown as well so we decided to visit the traditional service at his church. Once again it was a fountain of tears. The acolytes, candles, and hymns all brought out a feeling of reverence for the presence of our Holy God that we had longed to find. It didn’t take long for us to realize we are most comfortable in an Orthodox Christian setting. It didn’t take much longer to realize this was also a ministry fit for us and Roman was asked to come on staff this past September. Now we are learning the Doxology, and the Apostles Creed. The congregation says the prayer of confession before communion and the Lord’s Prayer just after the offering. I am learning all about the Church Calendar which includes things like Advent and Lent. We sat at dinner one evening with our new Pastor and his wife. I told them I had been a Christian my whole life and now felt brand new to so much of it. She is the one who first said God had given us the gift of seeing Him from different vantage points. Kind of like sitting in a new spot at the family dinner table. If you keep the same chair your whole life the scenery never changes. When you move to a different spot, you see things you were not able to see before. God is so BIG that we must be willing to move out of our comfort zones to view Him outside of one little box. I love walking into my church in the middle of a Monday morning and hearing the organ playing, or knowing that the first Sunday of each month we will hear a performance of worship hymns played on the hand bells. The Lord has blessed us with many vantage points of Him and we personally fit in a more Orthodox setting; however; I can still go to a contemporary worship service and feel the breath of the Spirit! I encourage all of you to; at some point, visit a church that may not do things that are within your comfort zone. Go with a friend who attends that church and ask them about why they follow, or don’t follow, certain traditions. You may be and Orthodox who needs to see the Contemporary point of view (or vice-versa). Like me, I know it will help you grow more whole (and holy) as you are on your journey of faith.
I am so thankful that God has allowed me to see Him from more than one point of view!