On this Feast of St Thomas, would like to make a special request to my Church-going friends for your thoughts and prayers .. this is lengthy, so bear with me.
This Sunday, St Gregorios at Elmhurst will be trialing simultaneous English and Malayalam Liturgy. This model is seen more often in the Greek and Coptic Churches, but as far as I know this is a first for the Indian Orthodox Church. For the record, no matter what happens - I love my parish and my priests so much for the courage and understanding to approve this trial, which will be for the month of July.
I'll post more thoughts later .. but it's been very thought provoking to see the response and reaction not only from the elder generation but my own. There's curiosity, concern, confusion .. the reaction that is least seen is understanding.
Why is this important? Because this is what it means to be an Orthodox Church.
As Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote in his incredible treasure, The Orthodox Way - "True Orthodox fidelity to the past must always be a creative fidelity; for true Orthodoxy can never rest satisfied with a barren ‘theology of repetition,’ which, parrot-like, repeats accepted formulae without striving to understand what lies behind them."
To really understand our Liturgy, we must celebrate in the language we think in .. and this is as important to those who experience Orthodoxy for the first time (new-comers, who may later become converts) to those of us born Orthodox. I strongly believe that anyone who really understands the Holy Qurbana would never walk away, as St. Peter had told Christ (John 6:68 i.e., "“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."). The thought that we will retain our youth with basketball games, pop-songs, and retreats is sadly laughable .. we need to focus on the Eucharist.
For the Indian Orthodox Church in America, the Great Commission demands (yes, it is a command ... look it up! Matthew 28:19-20) we have parishes of all types - 100% Malalayam, 100% English, and those that welcome both Malayalee and English speaking.
It's the last category that needs to be creative to reach their full congregation .. that's why we are doing this trial in July.
I am still a fool, but have finally learned it's best to let the Lord lead the way and not plan too far ahead .. as such, I don't know what will be the final decision beyond July or what will happen in Chicago in the years ahead.
But, it's really neat to be a part of history.
And, no matter what happens on July 5th and 19th - each Liturgy is overflowing with the faithful, as we literally worship alongside St. Thomas and all the saints and martyrs of the Church at every Holy Qurbana. It's our own ignorance when we count success by the number of bodies we see with our human eyes.