“…eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
In the body it is the living Spirit that holds all members together, even when they are far apart. So it is here. The purpose for which the Spirit was given was to bring into unity all who remain separated by different ethnic and cultural divisions: young and old, rich and poor, women and men. (John Chrysostom on Ephesians 4:3)
I share this verse from last Sunday’s epistle reading and the brief quote from St. John Chrysostom because he answers the question I posed in my title. What is so wonderful is that in the Church we can be who we are, and yet still be united as one soul, one mind, and one spirit.
What I love about our Orthodox Church in America is that we are slowly becoming a diverse church that is becoming less “Slavic” in its demographics. In my visits to churches in the diocese, I encounter a greater number of people from different ethnic backgrounds. I was at the Cathedral in Minneapolis on Sunday and met at least five Greeks who came to venerate the cross, whom I believe are members there. We are emerging as a great tasting salad of different ingredients that is changing the image of who we are. This is not just in the OCA, but it is happening elsewhere as well. These are baby steps that are beginning to manifest the kind of unity that John Chrysostom describes.
We still order our church life in most “jurisdictions” according to nationalistic identities. We are “separate but equal” when it comes to the way church life is organized here in America. The more that local churches (on a Pan Orthodox level) work together in the building up of our unity around our faith, eventually we bishops will get the message and act.
But what does this have to do with family life? Parents: encourage your children as they meet people to be good listeners and to learn about the backgrounds of the people they come to meet. Encourage your children to participate in a summer camp that is multi-Orthodox in make up. It is amazing to see the bonds that get forged in these camps. With the diversity of these cultural expressions there is a wonderful unity that is emerging.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,
The unworthy +Paul