Entries with tag stories .

A Small Act of Sharing and Caring

I was raised in a way that has made my faith pretty private.

 

What I mean by that is that I came into my faith on my own; I was never asked or pushed into practicing Orthodox Christianity. And I was never really encouraged to share my triumphs and struggles in the faith. Obviously, our faith is a shared faith, but for a long time I kept mine very private; I didn’t realize how much there was to be shared.

 

Personal anecdote time. A few weeks ago, my grandfather was in the hospital, and there was an interfaith chapel down the hall from his room. My grandmother took me into the chapel to pray for my grandfather. It was a repository of icons, bibles, and other symbols of different faith traditions, but we didn’t see any representations of Orthodoxy. So I went into my bag and looked to see if I had any of the small icon cards that you can pick up at parishes, and I found one of St. George, so I left it in the chapel.

 

Now, I can’t really explain why, but in that moment, I felt that St. George was watching over me, and I felt so compelled to do a little research on him (I’m not very versed in the lives of the saints, and while I knew the basics of his life, I wanted to go into a little more detail). The next day, I uploaded a picture of an icon of St. George to Instagram.

 

A few weeks later, my mom asked me, out of the blue, having no idea of the events that transpired, “Now, why do you feel that St. George is watching over you?” It was honestly the first time in a long time that I can remember being asked about something going on in my spiritual life that directly. Because of the relationship that we have established with our faith in my household, I was going to say, “I just do,” and leave it at that.

 

But I took a deep breath after realizing...she asked. This is not something that happens often, if at all. So I answered. In detail.

 

I realized how stubborn I was being to not want to answer my mom in the first place. Like, “my faith is personal, and I don’t want to share it with her right now.” Yet I sucked up my pride and decided to share it anyway.


Generally, I think that I am pretty open about my faith now. I don’t try to hide it from the people I meet, like I used to. I know that if the fact that I am Orthodox bothers someone, then that person probably isn’t the kind of person that I want in my life.

 

But it got me thinking about when people ask me about my faith. I want to be the type of person who is open, who gets people thinking, who has stories to share that can keep them engaged. The type of person who is excited to talk about Christ because of the amazing effect that He has had on my life, and because of the fact that He gave me life. And I want to be asked questions about my faith. Personally, and on a more general level. So why was I scoffing at my mother when she asked?

 

Just as we have to open ourselves to Christ in order for Him to be able to come into us, to guide us towards His Kingdom, we have to be open to talking about Him.

 

Even though it’s not what I’m used to in my family, I want to be more open to changing what I’m used to, for the benefit of all involved. Talking things through and talking about our faith, about the saints who are active in our lives and about how Christ is active in our lives, is the most important way to share Him with others.

 

______________

Want more from Y2AM?  Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday!  And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter.  As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.

______________

Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.

______________

New Blog Series: Pop Culture Espresso Shots!

During the last year, I wrote a series of blog posts, each dealing with the Gospel reading for the upcoming Sunday. After working through basically the entire liturgical cycle, it’s time to begin a new project!

Since Steve and I have been dwelling in (not “being of”) and interacting with the world in our new podcast, Pop Culture Coffee Hour, I’ve decided to take that experiment just a step further.

And that is what brings us to…

Pop Culture Espresso Shots!

The dividing wall between sacred and secular is one that we often erect ourselves, and frankly, I’m tired of it. The reality is that every “secular” ritual carries sacred implications, and every “sacred” act can become secular. To divide the heavenly and the earthly is to do violence to the Word of God made flesh, who in His very Body brought creation to its proper union with the Uncreated God.

Since we’re Christians, we’re going to do more of that.

Christ Himself sets this example, not simply in the deep theology of His saving Incarnation, but even in the simple way He spoke to people. There is a reason that He told parables to capture the minds and hearts of His hearers. Jesus could have simply spoken to them of heavenly realities, telling them directly about divine forgiveness, telling them directly about the need for cultivating good deeds. He could have simply told us that man lives off God’s Word and left it at that.

But He didn’t.

Instead of telling us about God’s forgiveness, He showed us through a banal story about a father and his hapless son.

Instead of telling us about the need for cultivating good deeds, He told us a story about a farmer and some seeds.

Instead of merely preaching the need for God’s Word, He gave us Himself as real food and real drink, as Bread and Wine become Body and Blood.

It seems that God has a knack for using the ordinary as a gateway to the extraordinary.

Imagining the Extraordinary

When I was a kid, my mother read The Horse and His Boy to me, replacing the boy’s name with my own. Suddenly, the story of Shasta became my story. I had entered an extraordinary world through the very ordinary act of a mother reading a story to her son.

I became the subject of Aslan’s love. And he (He) became the subject of my own.

Now, as an adult, I understand that the real subject of my love, the real person towards whom my heart had been turned in the reading of this children’s book, was Christ Himself.

These stories capture our hearts because they are true. They are beautiful. And they are impossible.

We love Frodo because he is so little and yet overcomes the villainous Sauron. We love Narnia because animals speak. And we love Spider-Man (some of us) because he is the nerdy underdog who suddenly can walk up walls.

We love stories with impossible things.

Sadly, many of us have lost the ability to see the truth. We have lost our love of beauty. And worst of all, we have lost our ability to imagine the impossible happening.

With this sad reality buried in our hearts, how can we possibly be expected to believe the Gospel, the most impossible thing ever to have happened?

Stories thus provide a valuable training ground for our hearts, teaching us to long for the impossible. Teaching us to dwell on that which is good, noble, and pure.

On that which is true.

Telling the Truth: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

For Christians, the Truth is a person: the Crucified and Risen Lord. The Gospel of Christ tells us the truth about God and about ourselves.

The Good Truth: Our God gives His Life to defeat death.

The Crucified Body of Jesus Christ reveals to us that we have a God who is willing to give Himself fully, willingly submitting Himself to death for the sake of those He
“loved to the end.” Not to mentioned that the Resurrection shows us that death will be defeated and the dead shall also be raised.

The Bad Truth: We killed Him.

But the Gospel also shows us the scary truth about ourselves. We are violent. We are lost. We have strayed so far from our God and desire so much to be our own masters that, when our Creator comes close to us, we kill Him. We don’t want Him, and we go to great lengths to escape or get rid of Him.

The Ugly Truth: Humanity is horribly disfigured.

And the reason we try to kill Him is because He shows us the truth about ourselves. There, hanging on the Cross, the Lord shows us what it is to be human: beaten, bloodied, broken. In a word: crucified.

The Gospel shows us first that God is Love. It also shows us that we can’t handle that love. And our inability to handle that love reaches deeper than we could possibly imagine.

Learning to Fly: The Possible Impossiblity

That the Word of God would become a human infant born of a virgin; that He would live a life in submission to a human mother and Divine Father; that He would willingly enter death at the hands of His creatures; that He would be raised from the dead after three days….

All of this. Is. Impossible.

Overcoming the intellectual impossibility of these things cannot occur through our rational faculties. We know too much about science, and our heads get in the way.

Believing in the impossible is a job for the heart. We must thus embrace story-telling as the sacred art it is.

To truly know the real world, and not just know about the real world, we must spend time inhabiting worlds where good thoughts (and a little fairy dust) can make people fly.

We must dwell in places where the Good Guys win and the Bad Guys lose.

We need stories where someone can be a villain until the last minute of the last act and finally find some peace. Stories where, no matter how dark the night, the sun rises again.

We need to begin imagining the impossible, otherwise we won’t be able to believe in a God who makes the impossible happen.

So I'm gonna go make some popcorn and see what God is up to in the new season of Daredevil.

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working toward a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.

______________

 

— 5 Items per Page
Showing 2 results.
Christian Gonzalez
Posts: 75
Stars: 8
Date: 9/20/17
Rev. Dr. Tony Vrame
Posts: 23
Stars: 1
Date: 9/20/17
Sam Williams
Posts: 64
Stars: 0
Date: 9/19/17
Nicholas Anton
Posts: 5
Stars: 0
Date: 9/1/17
Steven Christoforou
Posts: 26
Stars: 0
Date: 8/30/17
Andrew Calivas
Posts: 3
Stars: 0
Date: 8/22/17
Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou
Posts: 24
Stars: 10
Date: 7/24/17
Anthony Constantine Balouris
Posts: 9
Stars: 0
Date: 6/28/17
Maria Pappas
Posts: 25
Stars: 0
Date: 5/12/17
Andrew Romanov
Posts: 8
Stars: 0
Date: 4/27/17