Tuesday, April 8, 2014

fun in the sun with the church

Church events have also kept me busy. We began Lent (Великий Пост по русский) on “Ash Wednesday,” which the Orthodox do not have, but it means I had to work hard for the extra church services we don’t normally have. We also had some extra services we do not normally have for what is called Evensong/Taize, based on a certain style of worship that is done at the Taize Monastery in France. It is quite a popular form of prayer done around the world (and something I really enjoy as relaxing and meditative). Additionally I have been on “substitute duty.” The head priest could not teach one of her (we have male and female priests in the Episcopal Church) Confirmation courses (a Western Church thing that the Orthodox do not have because the Orthodox handle the issue of adult education differently than we do) so I had to teach her course on “Daily Prayer/Study” (the individual) and “Corporate Worship” (the communal). Then our second priest took time off to be with his family and so I led his once-a-week Bible Study on Wednesday and then the Thursday Morning Prayer he usually leads. He is also the Youth Minister so I had to lead the Youth on Sunday, April 6 when we went to see “Noah.”

Other Church events that have kept me busy are my once-a-month groups that I lead called “Theology on Tap” where we go to the bar, drink beer, and discuss theology, specifically issues that affect Episcopal relationships with the greater Anglican Communion (that would be like the Russian Church and the whole of Orthodoxy) and our relationships with other Christian groups like the Catholics, the Orthodox, and many Protestants. In February we discussed what is called “Communion Regardless of Baptism” or whether we give people communion even if they have not been baptized. Most people do not agree, but some Episcopalians think this is acceptable. In March we discussed matters of life and death: issues of abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia. Many Episcopalians have different views on these issues and our official doctrines are complicated because of this. Next week we will discuss “Heaven and Hell: Universal Salvation and Eternal Damnation,” or basically does a loving God really send people to hell or is everyone going to heaven and what do these different positions mean. Other topics in the past that we have talked about are "women's ordination" (female priests/bishops), "LGBT" issues in the Church, the relationship of Science and Religion, the Creeds (симболы веры such as this, of which there are a few that some churches accept and others do not and while The Episcopal Church accepts the Nicene Creed - Никейский Симбол Веры there are many Episcopalians who do not - do not ask me how that works because I do not know how one belongs to a church and does not accept the core of the faith; disagreements about other issues I can understand, but the core of the faith I do not).

So I think I mentioned that I volunteer with the youth group at the church. Well, unfortunately one of the downsides to doing youth ministry is you have to watch bad movies. 7 years ago I had to watch “Esther” because a woman at the church I worked for at that time paid for the youth group to go and it was an atrociously terrible movie. I had mentioned this to Brian, the youth minister here, as we were swapping “bad youth group stories” and 2 days later he tells me a woman here offered to pay for us to see “Son of God.” It was better than I expected it to be, but it was still terrible. Too much celebrity, pretty boy, divine Jesus, not enough of the human side of Jesus, and again the celebrity aspect. It felt like worshipping a celebrity, not worshipping a god of any sort. To make it better on Sunday, April 6 we saw “Noah,” and while it varied from the story in the Bible, it was awesome. Soooooooo awesome!!!!!!!  And we had an excellent discussion after.

Photos about the church.
I really only have two pictures for this (most pictures are about the weekend excursions). Some middle school girls decided to "make" church in our fountain. Some flowers were priests, others readers, ushers, or acolytes (teenage servers). It was cute, but it took most of the flowers from our garden.

A picture from a little higher up.

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