I work downtown in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the corner of Sheldon and Fulton Avenues. Being in the hustle of a metro area affords significant energy and multiple options. Within walking distance are: loads of places to eat and drink coffee (and handmade craft beers:), a world class library is across the street, a beautiful park, a river walk, and just down the street from my office are two Churches… the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Andrew and the Eastern Orthodox parish of St. George. They sit, literally facing one another, about 200 yards apart. One is big, massive, impressive and the other is much smaller, humble, less noticeable, yet nonetheless – beautiful in its simplicity. I will let you guess which of the two is Roman and which is Orthodox! But there they stand… West and East… separate but so close, the Roman Church ironically resides on the West side of the street and the Orthodox, not surprisingly on the East – ad orientem… with its Altar and priests and people always facing East ever east awaiting the coming of Christ.
I am fortunate that I’m able to visit each church and pray over the lunch hour. They provide a haven in the middle of days that are filled with tasks, troubles, emails, hustle, bustle and noise… This morning while visiting the St. George website I came upon this description about Orthodoxy from it’s priest Fr. John Winfrey. I thought it was beautifully written and captures the essence of the ancient apostolic faith…it is why I am an Orthodox Christian. I hope you enjoy it.
“Orthodox Christianity is not a package of nice ideas and thoughts. It is truth wrought from the blood and tears of real people dealing with real problems. The Orthodox Church is the living, breathing body of Jesus Christ in the world today, and the custodian of hope for the people of the world. In truth it is, in the words of Fr. Georges Florovsky (†1979), “the living image of eternity in time.”
This is the very Church of Jesus Christ. This is the faith of his Apostles. This is the faith which has established the universe.
For nearly 2000 years, the Orthodox Church has been the place of healing for the sickness of the heart, the place of fundamental life changes, and the place of transformation of people into channels of God’s love, grace, and light. We invite you to come and see.
Amidst the raging tides of fads and buffeting waves of short-lived trends, the Orthodox Church is a fortress built upon the Rock of Jesus Christ. Orthodox Christianity is a rich faith that has safeguarded the fullness of the universe’s truth through the centuries, and by Christ’s promise (Matthew 16:18), will continue until his glorious return.
+ anaphora – laetare