A few days ago I was poking around online at an Orthodox music store and found some samples, in various languages, of Orthodox hymns. I listened to several of them and found myself on the verge of tears, remembering our experience at St. George's in Arizona and traversing the depth and beauty of Orthodox worship. On a discussion board some months ago, a lay person described Orthodox worship as a feast, and listening to those hymns, I could not help but agree with him. I have been fasting for months and those online hymns were the rich aromas of my mom's kitchen on Thanksgiving day. How sparse our worship and theology are! What paucity pervades our devotion and praxis. Until I heard those hymns, I was only vaguely aware of the hunger pangs, but now, they have been brought to the fore and I can see that the meager gruel served here is not enough to sustain me.
I know there is goodness & godliness here, and that the senior leadership is driven by a deep desire to reach the lost with the Gospel. But in our desire to be "effective" in reaching the unchurched, are we sacrificing something? I cannot help but feel that we are, especially with what I talked about in my last post. Why can't we trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into the right things without relying on outside materials? Why are we so fixed on this model, even when it is clear that it will function only for a season and not endure beyond that? It feels like we are putting God into a very carefully tended and thoroughly locked cage based on "market data." The temptation to be relevant, to be effective, is a lure that is hard to resist, but if it comes at a cost, resist it we must.