Tuesday, April 25, 2006

better is one day in Thy courts

"For better is one day in Thy courts than thousands elsewhere. I have chosen rather to be an outcast in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of sinners." (Ps 83, LXX)

It dawned on me one day, as I was praying the ninth hour, that this verse describes very well my current situation. Although I would not call Evangelicalism "the tents of sinners," I do have to be content for now with "one day in Thy courts" here and there, with standing on the doorstep of God's house. Indeed, there can be a quite literal application of this phrase to my situation. Although most Orthodox parishes do not restrict the non-Orthodox from entering their services, it is still the practice in some monasteries that they must remain in the vestibule. The Hebrew word that appears only here seems to come from the word for doorstep, while the Greek renders it as "outcast." The idea is that it's better to stand just outside the temple, looking in, than to be anywhere else. And every time I find a place to stand aside and watch the faithful receive communion, I now take comfort that I have the opportunity at least to stand in the presence of such an awesome mystery.

Another encouraging quote, this one from http://www.westernorthodox.com/khomiakov:
Wherefore he who desires Baptism is baptized in will; while he who has received Baptism possesses it in joy. An identical faith in Baptism saves both of them. But a man may say, "if faith in Baptism saves, what is the use of being actually baptized?" If he does not receive Baptism what did he wish for? It is evident that the faith which desires Baptism must be perfected by the reception of Baptism itself, which is its joy. Therefore also the house of Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he received Baptism, while the eunuch was filled with the same Spirit immediately after Baptism (Acts 10, 44-47, 8. 38, cf. 2. 38). For God can glorify the Sacrament of Baptism just as well before, as after, its administration.
Since I find myself in a situation where I want to be baptized (or just chrismated, depending on the parish), but I can't find anyone who will do it, I take comfort in the notion that I am already baptized in will. As he says, that doesn't mean it is enough to stop there, but given my present circumstances, it's the best I can hope for right now.

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