I began this little writing adventure, called “Anaphora” on July 29, 2008, about one month prior to the arrival of our ‘mid-life’ surprise and miracle – John Patrick Cook (8/27/08) They say that when a baby comes, the mother goes into a ‘nesting‘ mode in which she makes the house ready for the reception of this new child. I guess for me, I went through a ‘talking’ mode, in which through introspection and meditation, a father begins to make sense out of having a fifth child while in his mid-forties thinking he was finally ‘getting out of the woods’ with four children all over ten and two almost in High School! But as you know, God loves to laugh and give gifts, and so the best gift of all was given – and we love our surprise ‘little John’ beyond what any words could ever express. In him, we laughed and we continue to laugh as he brings us joy without end.
Like most people, I was new to the whole idea of “blogging” and the somewhat intimidating technology surrounding it. But thanks to the genius and gifts of WordPress, I was able to quickly set up a personal space in cyberspace and began sharing thoughts, ideas, and reflections on what it might look like to offer one’s entire life up to God as a living sacrifice….thus the name ‘anaphora’ to offer up. I also wanted to share some ideas about the Church, about our discovery of the best kept secret in the world (or at least in America) The Orthodox Church, by using the words and wisdom of those who spoke most clearly to us as we discovered this beautiful Bride. I wanted to share with readers these unknown voices of Wisdom given throughout the 2,000 year history of the undivided Church, and to consider what it means to be a pilgrim in this world, as we journey to paradise with Christ and the saints, and yet, all the while living in that very paradise here and now each day. My original goal for writing (and you can be the judge as to whether I have succeeded or not) was penned in the very first blog post in 2008:
…and so it begins…
P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy Spirit.
P. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up unto the Lord.
P. Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
R. It is meet and right so to do.
P. It is meet and right, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God….
This is the “anaphora” – the eucharistic prayer of thanksgiving – a “lifting”, an “offering up” of ourselves, our lives and all things to God at the one place on earth where heaven comes down to us, and where pilgrims like us, rise up to meet Christ, His saints and angels – at the altar as we receive the very Body and Blood of Jesus. My desire for this little “real estate” in the vast world of cyberspace is for it to become a place of “anaphora” – a lifting up – an offering up of thoughts, words, ideas, conversation and dreams for the joy in our journey, and for the Glory of God.
So here we are on March 30, 2010. Thank God, and thank you to everyone who has ever visited. I truly appreciate your investment of time…and to anyone who leaves a comment I am offering FREE chocolate!! So let’s celebrate: Over 100 posts, almost 3,000 visitors, over 4,123 plus page views, and the one statistic that really amazes me – visitors who have come from over 54 countries…I don’t know how or why you came, but I am very thankful and hope it helped you in some small way. “…Bermuda, Burma, Bulgaria…India, Indonesia, Iceland…Spain, South Africa, Switzerland…Poland, Thailand, Finland, Greece, the UK and others, all of you have taken the time to click and read, and I pray that something was edifying to your soul, and strengthening for your body on your journey to understanding our Oneness in Christ that the Trinity intends for all people, all nations, and all tribes across the World, through the One Church. The Body that Jesus built, continues to build, and has promised that the gates of hell would not overthrow. One God, one people, one communion of love as it was from the very beginning in Genesis, and will be forever through eternity.
On this 100th Post it seems good and right that the subject be none other than the Source of all our ‘offering and lifting up’, the center of our love, joy and contentment: the Bridegroom Himself, Jesus of Nazareth the only begotten Son of God, the son of Mary the Theotokos, the foster son of Joseph the Carpenter. This icon brought out on Palm Sunday evening and resting in the center of Orthodox Churches all week, is called in Greek “O Nymphios” the Bridegroom.
Christ the Bridegroom is the central figure in the parable of the ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13); Christ is the divine Bridegroom of the Church as described in the Book of Isaiah (chapter 54), as well as the primary image of Bridegroom Matins celebrated on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday of Holy Week. The title is suggestive of his divine presence and watchfulness as noted below in the much beloved, rich and spiritually moving hymn loved by all Orthodox. This icon and hymn are sung almost constantly as we move through Great and Holy Week as it describes Jesus’ selfless love for his Bride, the Church.
Behold! the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. But rouse yourself, crying: ‘Holy! Holy! Holy! art Thou, O our God. Through the Theotokos, have mercy on us.
Again, if you visit thanks. And God willing, as I learn more about living life in, and with the Church, I promise to share with you more of the many treasures that I will find along the way. Orthodoxy is like the Wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia. From the outside it seems covered up with a sheet, it looks old, dusty, un-relevant and useless… an outdated piece of furniture that serves no purpose other than as some historical oddity, and is hardly noticed by anyone… but like Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund… our intrepid family of seven dared to ‘open the doors’ and go inside the wardrobe, and through the mystery of God’s great love, we emerged on the other side – in a land called Narnia; a land we did not know existed, a place of fullness, wholeness, substance and beauty; a place of warfare against evil; but ultimately a place of immense love and oneness beyond our wildest imagination.
No. Not a new denomination or ‘movement’. Something better…
The Bride of Christ.
Pure. Whole. Undefiled.. One in essence and undivided.
May you find your way to this same wardrobe – and when you enter that unvisited room in the house – don’t be afraid to open the doors – for what lies inside, and beyond, is a treasure of wealth beyond comprehension.