Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
A Broad View (© John Gresham)
I am recovering from the Feast of All Saints of North America (overindulgence in a stuffed crust, super supreme pizza). About to go to a staff meeting at the park ( I am supplying a salad and portabella mushrooms for myself as I am not going to eat any chicken). And I have more than a few loose ends to tie up this week for the church. Thus far, I can say that I am happy with my journey on this Apostles Fast.
I am finding so much history in Orthodoxy. I knew that Christianity had existed in Ethiopia since high school. But, thanks to modern technology, I have learned even more of this church as well as the Copts of Egypt. You Tube has become a valuable instrument in my learning of the ancient faith. Archbishop Lazar Puhalo and David Withun have very informative videos on the network. I also listen to the lectures on the Ancient Faith Radio podcast. I intend to visit either the Greek Orthodox Church or OCA Mission when I go to Charlottesville soon and will be able to visit the Antiochian Church on the fifth Sunday of July. As soon as the Greek Church opens in Williamsburg, I will attend some midweek services.
Perhaps some would criticize my appreciation for Orthodoxy and wonder why I am asking, seeking, and knocking on their door when I have been a life-long Baptist and pastor a church. History is one reason. We African-American Baptist have a rich legacy of preaching, music, and theology that I do appreciate and thank God for. But, the Baptist faith is only over 200 years old. Yes, we can talk about the legacy of Robert Walker, Nat Turner, John Jasper, Howard Thurman, and Adam Clayton Powell, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the message they had for our community and nation. But, we should also learn and celebrate the legacy and message of the African fathers who contributed to the very foundations of Christianity. St Anthony the Great is recognized as the father of monasticism by both Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. His contemporary, St. Athanasius, described Anthony as being of the Egyptian race. In speaking of his fellow African, Athanasius put together the New Testament! Seriously, how can we even call ourselves African-American Christians and not give recognition to the Africans that helped form the faith? How can we not also celebrate those martyrs such as Cyprian of Carthage, Maurice and the Theban Legion? Is the oppression and murder they suffered less important than that of King or the four girls that were killed in a Birmingham church bombing? If we are going to tell the history of our Christian heritage, we ought to tell the whole story.
The Africans who contributed to early Christianity were not former slaves that had to overcome Jim Crow laws to be accepted by whites. They were held as equals in faith going back to that first named Christian community in Antioch (Acts 13:1). Race was a non-issue in the early Orthodox world. Ethiopians have some icons of a pale skinned Jesus out of respect for the Russian Orthodox whom they have enjoyed a long kinship with. There are churches and monasteries in Europe with icons of the Theotokos and Christ darker than I am. Most images of Christ and others in the Bible are depicted as Middle Eastern, neither black nor white. The history of the faith is multicultural and universal (Colossians 3:11).
I have to cut off here.