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Meeting With The Elves In Woody End

October 22, 2011

“Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will both no and yes.” These were the words of Frodo during his conversation with Gildor at Wood End, after there near-miss with the Black Rider.

I have begun reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy to my daughters recently. As I read through this part of the story, it reminded me of a conversation I had with an alumni of Calvary Chapel Bible College when it was in Twin Peaks, CA. We had been discussing comments made by another alumni on a Facebook page for CCBC. The conversation turned to the Orthodox Church and how I had come to my decision to become Orthodox. After I explained my journey, in brief, He asked how urgently would I advise him to become Orthodox. He asked me to put it on a scale from 1-10. 10 being urgent, 1 being “not very”

For a second, I thought it an odd question. (Maybe in a small way I ‘m beginning to “Think Orthodox”) But then remembering my Protestant roots, the question suddenly made sense. He was thinking of the Orthodox claim to be the fullness of the Church as as exclusivist, “You’re in, or you’re out.” proposition. He was also looking for a simple, direct answer. After thinking his question over, I realized there is really no clear-cut answer, in the way he was expecting.

My answer to him was as follows:  “My answer to this question may prove useless. At the time I began to figure out the truth of Orthodox claims, I found the urgency to be a 10. I could not turn away, so to speak. At one point I thought of giving the whole journey up, only to find that I could never go back to being a Protestant (which, by the way, I was born to hippie parents in the early CC movement, married by Chuck Smith). But after the past 2 years or so of being immersed in Orthodoxy as a catechumen, I can say that the urgency is close to a 1. Not because Orthodoxy is not true, but because Christ’s light fills all things. Even though Orthodox believe we are the fullest expression of the Church, (while saying we are THE Church) that every denomination that has sprung from the Church has the light of Christ, even if it is incomplete. I would personally urge you to do it as a 10. It’ll be a tough journey at first, but it is beautiful. At the same time, the urgency is 1, because, as my priest tells me, “The Church isn’t going anywhere.” As Andrew told Peter, “Come and see.” “

While the draw to Orthodoxy, at urgency level 10, was purely from within myself, I never felt an external “push” from the Church. No coercion, or threats with the prospect of eternal damnation if I wasn’t a part of the Church NOW! I was kindly invited to “Come and see.” not told, “You need to make a decision, because you don’t KNOW where you’ll go when you die, if you’re not Orthodox.”

It is nice to have the steady, solid, 2000 year old witness of the Orthodox Church, drawing people to the Life in Christ, experienced in worship, word and sacrament. There is the simple invitation to those outside. Not that we neglect mission, evangelism, etc. For it is the command from our Lord Himself to share His Good News. And while I think we Orthodox could use a good “shot in the arm” to be more vocal in our evangelism and mission, we are not driven by a paranoia to be “in your face” with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a word, it is, Refreshing.

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