Saturday, Nancy and I attended a wedding for a friend at a Serbian Orthodox Church. The Church (St. Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church) was absolutely stunning. It was just what you would expect to find, but it was kind of out in the middle of nowhere! Then this morning, a friend posted a picture of her wedding (in the 90's) in a Greek Orthodox Church. The two connections made me think.
What struck me about the orthodox service was how beautiful it was. The Icons were amazing, the chanting,the incense creates such an otherworldly experience. And that is the point.
Within the Orthodox Church, God is presented as a mystery that one must be drawn into. Through the liturgy, and the setting, God is separate and distant from us, but can be experienced in the mass. That is so different from the main-line protestant experience.
While I enjoyed the service (although it was a bit long), I was never able to experience the divine. God always seemed to be off, behind the iconostasis (the Icon screen). I know that is not the way it is supposed to be. Theologically the iconostasis is supposed to bring the divine together with the worshippers, but in practice, I am not sure if that is what people experience.
We need to experience the divine. And I have come to realize that we all do that in many different ways. For some it is in the liturgy of the church, for others it is in service, and still others in nature. Regardless of how we experience the divine, the key component is: WHAT DO WE DO WITH IT?
If it is just for our own benefit, then I would suggest that it is a waste of time. God is concerned about how we live in community, and that community is not defined by a local church, or a denomination, or (heaven forbid) a religion. Unfortunately, we have become so uncultured that the only way we tend to experience God is through he matrix of our local church/denomination or religion.