It occurred to me this week that our daughter Sofie has only been to one parish in all her life (she did go to my step-grandfather’s funeral at his Southern Baptist Church, but that wasn’t a typical Baptist worship service). The only church she has known is the Orthodox Church (specifically All Saints in Chicago). She is being raised in a faith that has remained stable and unchanged for 2000 years.
Each week the saints depicted in the icons ringing her in from all four walls look down on her as she worships by crawling, standing, clapping, fussing, nursing, and sleeping. Each week she opens her arms wide as Fr. Patrick censes her–as though she readily accepts the prayers of the Church that rise as incense. Each week she is twice blessed: once when the chalice is placed over her head and Father asks that the Lord remember her in His Kingdom, always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages; and again during the Holy Communion when the Church pronounces that the handmaiden of God, Sofie, receives the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each week she is greeted by the parishioners with the peace of Christ. Each week she hears–though she doesn’t yet understand–the 2000-year-old faith summarized and confessed in the Nicene Creed. Each week she sits and stands and crawls in a place where heaven and earth meet, and sleeps with all the hosts of heaven watching over her.
She is nine months old. This is all she knows.
Her father is not so lucky. His life has been the accumulation and discarding of various contradictions, fads, and gnostic secrets that serve only to make the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all a thing of confusion and murkiness. He lacks the simplicity of heart to take it all in whole, arms wide open, in ready acceptance. For him it is the constant wrestling of thought and feeling and desire, the struggle to quell all that which rises up in opposition to God. It is a task made all the more difficult for his sojourn in several church bodies, and amidst a Christian world torn by heresies and schisms.
I envy my daughter her faith. But I am more grateful than I can express that God has seen fit to allow me the time for repentance, and the grace to know the Truth and His Church. Mine is an imperfect example, a headship much too unworthy of emulation. But for all that it is an effort at faithful discipleship, God being my helper.
May Sofie’s path be direct and sure. May she soon be brought to the laver of regeneration, and our whole household be saved on that Day.
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