Yesterday was a good sunday, even though it started way too early. We left our house around 5 AM. After picking up some breakfast, we got to the church building. We left the church building with a pretty big crowd around 6 AM.
Our trip yesterday was to visit two churches:
Greater Imani Church and Christian Center
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
Man, I knew it was going to be a big culture shock both ways, but dang.
The first one (Greater Imani) is a large black church with a great ministry to men and really energetic music. And I mean, this church was black. (Jesus was black in the pictures in the foyer.) So, it was great. I especially appreciated the music and the sermon. The preacher in this church, Apostle, gave a great talk calling men to be real fathers to their children. This was a much needed sermon, and apparently his strong teaching is having quite an impact on the men of the black community in Memphis.
Next, we drove (quickly because we thought we were going to be late) about 10 minutes down the road to Annunciation. Unfortunately, Annunciation is currently meeting in their fellowship hall. They have set up the fellowship hall to reflect a normal greek orthodox worship setting. For the non-experienced when it comes to the eastern orthodox faith, every bit of the liturgy is sung or chanted. It was a very beautiful service. The idea of there being "a" Orthodox faith and practice was curious to me, given my point of view of western christianity, with its many flavors. Especially meaningful to me was the continuity of what the Orthodox church does. It has been approximately the same for roughly 2000 years. The roots of my own christian tradition go back no farther than the reformation. This is a faith tradition that never got involved in the reformation. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon looking at what my ecclesiology reveals about the importance on place on my own self. In the eastern church, self is subject to the Tradition, the Fathers, and the Church. Also of interest was some stories I heard of a group of American Evangelicals (mostly from Campus Crusade) who converted to Orthodoxy after studying the Scriptures and reading the church fathers. I'll have to read their book : Becoming Orthodox