Neighborhood Church

I love the Russian Orthodox church in our neighborhood.

The calm and quiet. The smell of incense and beeswax candles burning and people crossing themselves and bending and bowing up and down like oil pumps –

It’s all inviting you to come in. To hush. To light a prayer to burn – words, heart, thought – drifting up like flame; pointing you up to heaven.

The incense pots glowing – gold stands decorating, honoring, catching your attention to focus on the solemnity; the importance. They draw in all your drifting thoughts with brass curves and red glow – flickering, whispering how important it all is – THIS is what we need to pay attention to!!

I love the ritual in this church – the crossing and stooping, and icon-framing, candle-lighting, crucifix-kissing. It’s order, discipline, beauty and focus – using all the senses to remind you, “Come. Now is the time to worship.”

Do I look like this?

“Do you not know that You are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” – I Corinthians 3:16

If I am a temple, is there even room in me for God? Are there worship times? Aisles leading to an altar? Walls, candles, paintings all pointing upwards? Can people come to find God in me?

And I also love how messy it is. Flower petals strewn on the floor, people wandering in, dragging slush and grit on their muddy boots, old woman in ratty blue jumper and frayed sweaters rubbing candlesticks with dirty rags.

It’s so imperfect.

But it’s still a church.

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – I Corinthians 6:19-20

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