If I were not an Anglican…

What would I be?? Not too sure, but here’s the story of a chap who began as a Charismatic Evangelical Anglican and ended up as Eastern Orthodox:

The moment one becomes Orthodox one is aware that many things are different, and there is a great deal to learn. One makes a serious mistake if one thinks that it is just “very high church”. Worship is priority, for time belongs to God first. Every Sunday is another Easter, and fasting and feasting are part of the steady rhythm of the Calendar. It is a simple replication of the simplicity of the Early Church. For us it has become a remarkable voyage of discovery, which combines great fascination with frustrations and insecurities. You never know quite what is going to happen next.

For instance, one has to get used in the Orthodox Church to a lot of kissing. It was David Watson who first taught me that worship means to “kiss towards”. So Bibles, Crosses, the Holy Table and Icons are kissed regularly. I remember the shock my sister experienced for the first time when her brother kissed her three times (not twice), and a newly bearded brother at that!

Yet all the time there are important links with one’s past. One serves the Liturgy, for example, in front of the Holy Table, not the Altar (which is the whole area behind the Iconostasis or icon screen). The Word and Sacrament are conjoined as truly as in the best Anglican tradition; there are no pulpits (usually no pews either, the Bible is always kept on the Holy Table, and is the first thing you reverence when you come to the Holy Table at the start of the service. Here is a Church that never went through the sieve of the Reformation, because it didn’t need that kind of reform. A Church which excludes sentimentality, not least because it worships in the presence of such a host of martyrs. The Orthodox Church has had more martyrs in the 20th Century that in the whole of the first four centuries of Church history.

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