Open Churches are a Blessing to All

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Tue, 08/31/2021 - 08:45

By my estimation there are over one thousand Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States when you combine all jurisdictions within the Canonical Orthodox Church. That means there are over one thousand opportunities for the Church to be a daily blessing to the people of our nation, whether they are Orthodox Christians or not since God is the God of everyone.

God is physically present in the Church, in the Holy Communion that rests in the Holy Tabernacle, and He promised in the Old Testament that if we needed Him, we would meet Him in the Temple. “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.” (Exodus 29.43) Take a moment and read the context of this verse, and you will notice that God had commanded services take place daily in the Temple, so the people could encounter Him.

When the Church is locked, or sits idle, it becomes just another building in the city. When the Church doors open for prayer and worship, then people can meet God in His House, and be sanctified by His glory. Read today’s passage taken from Hebrews.

BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people. – Hebrews 9.1-7

For the most part in America, we have lost the concept of the Church being open for services daily. In many cases, services are limited to Sundays and only the largest holidays. Because of this, many Orthodox Christians have fallen out of the habit of coming to Church during the week, except on rare occasions, and often just for funerals. This was not the case in the ancient Church, nor is it the case in the ‘old country’ today where the Church is open every day.

It is a shame, because with the Church doors closed, and with services not taking place, we cannot be a presence of God’s sanctification to the people in our cities. The Church will remain ‘the best kept secret in America’ and a mere tourist stop for visitors to see pretty pictures. The time has come for our Churches to open their doors daily for prayer at the very least so people can encounter God, Who is physically present as He promised. I understand more resources are needed, such as chanters to assist the clergy in offering services daily, but it is a start to open the doors. You never know, maybe faithful men and women who are musically inclined with be inspired to learn the art of ecclesiastical chanting so our churches can once again offer the daily services for the people of God.

If you have a musical talent, call your priest, and offer your services to the Church. The main reason our churches remain closed or idle during the week in America is because we need help. If you can’t sing, but have time to monitor the your local parish, call you priest, and offer to sit for a few hours during the week, so the Church can be open for prayer. The people of our cities need God, and He is physically present in our Churches. Shame on us for keeping the doors locked!

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