Thursday, July 21, 2011

~~~~ DOES YOUR FAITH HAVE FOUR WALLS? ~~~~


As I contemplated this post I realized that this is not just a Christian experience but this applies to all faiths. I would rather approach this as addressing humanity, not just Christianity.

Lets start from my roots as I was baptized Christian as a young adult as you can read about this in  my biography posts referred to in this blog.   There is evidence to support that Greek Orthodoxy  to be the oldest Christian faith practiced on the planet as to the earliest Christian traditions, Liturgy, etc. The New testament was translated first from Aramaic to Greek and then from Greek to Latin and so on. These were some of the main reasons I choose this faith! Yes, I was fortunate to choose my religion. Most people follow what their parents taught them to follow.  For the purpose of this post I will not elaborate on Ecclesiastical History (my favorite class in Theology). Besides, I am not into dogma. I am into world unity, peace and love and any faith that leads us there is a faith I will support. Christianity supports that condition. 

The photo of the church above was my home for three years as a Greek Orthodox  priest. Consequently I know well of what I am talking about. 

One can characterize a Church or temple or any structure supporting spiritual nourishment as a  SPIRITUAL LIGHTHOUSE showing the way safely to the spirit from the challenging waves of life when we get off coarse. The structure may serve as a conduit to awaken the soul and spirit. In many faiths, all man's senses are satisfied in this structure. By visuals with icons and stain glass windows. Sounds from choirs and chanting. Taste from Holy Communion, wine which represents the blood of Christ and bread which represents the Body of Christ. Touch by kissing the hand of priest or elder. The smell in incense . Not all forms of Christianity or other faiths have all these conduits. 
 









CONDUITS CAN BE INSPIRATIONAL AND STIMULATE THE SPIRIT BUT THEY  ARE NOT A DIRECT PIPELINE FOR "SALVATION" NOR IS THE BUILDING WHICH IS CALLED CHURCH OR TEMPLE.


In all my years attending church as a priest and parishioner the one thing that stood out was, ~~ it became apparent that many parishioners came to church to be seen, not to make a personal connection with God! They believe that by being seen, they would be looked upon as religious and a good person.  Now, I must say that this condition was enhanced by my Mother church of Greek Orthodoxy because it also served as a gathering of countrymen sharing a common bond of heritage. Many parishioners had just migrated to the US knowing very little about the culture and language. 


Many decades ago when Saint Sophia was built,  it was the only Greek Orthodox church for miles in Southern California and therefore Greeks would come from mile to church to socialize, and not pray. Some would come to star gaze as Saint Sophia was the Greek church for all the Greek movie stars and Hollywood in general.   Sunday services became social gatherings and reunions. 



This photo is of Saint Sophia looking to the alter. I gave many sermons and performed many sacraments  here  in this church. Can you imagine the distractions the faithful had to deal with in this beautiful environment?

Conclusion:

What matters is not what you do at church or how many times you attend. What matters is what you do when you leave church. What matters is how you live your life from day to day. In fact let me so bold as to say my church is within me. My church comes with me where I go. Jesus does not belong to a church and God is not religious.  Do not reach that state of spirit that your faith resides  within 4 walls of a structure, whether it is a church or temple. It would be a shame that you have to go to church or temple to visit your faith.

The golden rules for all Religions are:

Love

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Be a Philoptohos (friend of the poor in Greek)

Be a Philanthropos ( Philanthropic in Greek)

Do no harm to anyone or anything

Invite strangers to drink from you well of Life

Never take more then you need and share your surplus with others who have none

Live you faith from morning to night, from day to day.

Respect the faith of others even it may be different in expression


When in spiritual need, look for the Spiritual Lighthouse in your neighborhood with  4 walls and your faith which resides in you will follow you there and where ever you 
go!

~~~ Stephen Hill ~~~


I am not discouraging you from attending church or temple. Just know that we will be accountable by our daily life activity.

You will therefore achieve Unity, Peace Love and Light with the world



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