Archive - Feb 28, 2018

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses

During my recent retreat at Holy Cross Monastery, I would arrive for the services early and sit all the way in, so I could lean against the wall. These walls have absorbed decades of prayers and I could almost feel others who have worshiped there and leaned against the wall leaning against me. I was leaning on them for support, just as they may have leaned against the wall and others in this great crowd for support as well. Whom am I leaning against? Who is leaning against me?

I have similar feelings at the Orthodox Church. Who has looked at this icon with me? Whom am I looking at? Whose prayers are mingled with mine, as we offer up praise and thanksgiving and as we pray for forgiveness, mercy, and justice?

In the Eucharist, it is the same, no matter how and where I participate. I know different people have different approaches to the Eucharist. With some people, I remember Christ’s death and resurrection as I have a small piece of bread and sip some grape juice. With others, I sense the holy presence in the mysterious gifts. I don’t have to be exclusive with one of another, just as I can enjoy New Haven pizza as well as Chicago pizza.

Yet most of my interactions with others in this great cloud of witnesses seems to be with people brought up as European Protestants, Roman Catholics, or Eastern Orthodox. I hope, through my studies, to get a better sense of people brought up in indigenous variants of Christianity.

What does this great cloud of witnesses look like where you stand?

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