Christ is Risen! I hope everyone had a blessed Feast of Feasts in celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!
I want to share with you a story of a friend named Markus who is Danish by nationality and Coptic Orthodox Christian by faith. I met Markus while celebrating Palm Sunday in the Coptic Church in Denmark, and we began to discuss how he found the Coptic Church and how things have been going for him. Please watch the video above, and I will share some of my thoughts on what he said.
The start of his journey, as he said, was that he was attending a Protestant church for a while but kept leaving 'hungry'. He didn't want to have this feeling. He read in the Bible and tried to, objectively, see what faith today most closely resembles what Christ had instituted. As he continued reading and learned about Orthodoxy, and read the Philokalia and Didache - he found the Orthodox Church to be his new home.
As he explains, when he learned about the Divine Liturgy and the richness of it, he said he always got 'full' and left stuffed, as he would from a 3 hour Danish feast :). This was just one aspect that stood out to him. The full sacramental life and how important it was to us individually as part of our daily lives really resonated with him. It reminds me of something St Gregory of Nazianzus said on Resurrection Feast - "Unless you relive the saving events that happen at the Feast, you have not celebrated it"
I don't want to add too much to what he said, but the last thing that really stuck out to me was about what he felt the most connected with and what key parts drew him to stay. As much as some of us may not agree on this - Language and Culture was a huge barrier for Markus. He explained to me that the priest who he was meeting with didn't take that away from him. He advises young evangelists and says "don't kill the culture, but Christianize it" His example was having a beer, which is a very big part of Danish culture. He says he will have one once in a while, and for him that is important in not feeling stripped of what he was used to. [I'm not saying alcohol was the thing he was used to, and I'm also not saying its okay for everybody, just giving his example;)]
The Bishop who prayed the Feast liturgy used Danish. This means SO much to the natives there. Markus said something that I won't forget. He understands English and Danish, but Danish is his first language. He said "When I hear in English it stays in my mind, but when I hear in Danish, my native language, it reaches my heart and that is very important in Christianity". Its like how some of us may never say a curse word in our native language, but know them in other languages and they flow freely off our tongue - "it doesn't count if its not in English" we'll say. =P
If we want to spread the Love of God and the news of His Resurrection, remember to meet people where they are at. From culture to language to social class to age to sports and favorite foods, there is always a middle ground where we all stand.