Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday: The Holy Apostles and Saint Nicholas
Troparion to the Apostles: O holy Apostles, intercede with the merciful God, that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
Kontakion the the Holy Apostles: The firm and divine-voiced preachers, the chief of Thy disciples, O Lord, Thou hast taken to Thyself for the enjoyment of Thy blessings, and for repose; their labours and death didst Thou accept as above every sacrifice, O Thou Who alone knowest the hearts.
Troparion to Saint Nicholas: The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness and a teacher of temperance; therefore thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion to Saint Nicholas: In Myra, O Saint, thou didst prove to be a minister ofthings sacred: for having fulfilled the Gospel of Christ, O righteous one, thou didst lay down thy life for thy people, and dist save the innocent form death. Wherefore, thou wast sanctified, as a great initiate of the grace of God.
The Apostles, of course are the foundation stones of the Orthodox Church, which is built on their teaching and which is faithful to their teaching.
Saint Nicholas is considered the ultimate example of a good bishop. He is a model of how bishops should be, in the Church.
One thing about the Orthodox, is that through our line of bishops (who ordain the priests), we have unbroken succession back to the apostles. It's not a succession of ideas, or a succession of a book, but rather one of people. A living, breathing community that can trace its continuity to the beginning.
In the Orthodox Church, decisions are made in a conciliar manner among the bishops, which means there's a balance of power and a faithfulness to the apostolic teaching that is maintained. Furthermore, the test of the veracity of a council is if the WHOLE Church accepts it. So the role of the laity is vital in this process, too. One body. Historians have done a much better job of expounding what I"m barely touching upon here.
But all this to say: The thing that stands out to me, in our daily commemorations as we go through the week is COMMUNITY. The God-worhsipping community that is the Church is more than just the ones I can see when I gather on Sunday mornings. It's more than the believers I know via the internet. It's an unbroken living community of those who have gone before, together with us who are so very very "new" and also the angels (who are as ancient as anyone created can be). It is into this community of LIFE that we who are as of yet barely alive in Christ join ourselves and are made even more real: the Church, of which Christ is the head.
I've perhaps stated it all muddled up. But hopefully it makes a bit of sense.