Find out more about Orthodox Awareness Month here: http://www.ocf.net/oam
A new school year means a new theme for OCF!
We’re centering this year all around these three words, “Come and see.” It’s a challenge to all of us both to follow these three words and to share them with others. We have a few ideas of how you can do that this month and all year round in our Orthodox Awareness Month manual. We hope you check it out and participate.
But what does it really mean to come and see? Toward what are we coming and what will we see? Well, for the next four Wednesdays for Orthodox Awareness Month, we’ll reflect on just that!
The first time the phrase “come and see” appears in the Gospel of John is right after John the Baptist calls Jesus twice “the Lamb of God” and says that he saw the Spirit descend from heaven and rest upon Him. A few of John’s disciples must have been intrigued by their master’s deference to his newly-arrived cousin because they decide to follow Him to see where He’s going.
I’m not sure they knew what they were in for when Jesus turned and asked them, “What do you seek?” But by some moment of inspiration, they asked Him where He was staying.
In his homily on this passage, St. John Chrysostom notices
They did not say, “Teach us of Thy doctrines, or some other thing that we need to know”; but what? “Where dwellest Thou?”
It’s an interesting question. Why not ask, “What do you teach?” or “Why does John call you the Lamb of God?” There’s something significant about knowing the place where the Lord lives and then coming to stay with Him in His own home. To come and see where the Teacher dwells is experiential.
This, I think, is why we prefer the invitation “come and see” over long-winded philosophical arguments about the validity of our Orthodox Christian beliefs. We know that Truth is beyond words–it must be experienced before it can be expressed, and no expression will ever do justice to the experience itself. The place to experience God, to simply come and see where He lives, is in the Church. The Church is the place where God’s Heavenly Kingdom is most clearly breaking through into the created realm.
Take the account of the pagan Slavs sent by St. Vladimir to Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, for example. Upon returning to their king, the delegates declared
We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there.
And it is not just the beauty of the Liturgy and the music and the icons that make known the place where the Lord dwells, but the beauty of the Body of Christ, the beauty of Christian hearts being purified by God’s love.
So the first calling of come and see is simply to enter into the place where the Teacher lives, to follow Him and earnestly desire to experience the life of His Kingdom. This is the first step in the making of a disciple of Christ, to seek out where the Lord dwells and then stay with Him a while.
Bishop Gregory is back, to kick off Orthodox Awareness Month!
His Grace is Primate of the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese of the USA and OCF Liaison to the Assembly of Bishops.
Check out the OAM Manual, and Come and See with us!
A wonderfully wise woman gave me some advice: “Please consider when you write/speak/think about Orthodoxy: are you writing/saying/thinking “the faith” “Orthodoxy” “the Church” when you should be writing/saying/thinking “Jesus Christ.”
OCF sponsors October as Orthodox Awareness Month and during this time, we encourage college students, spiritual advisors, lay advisors, and the like to spread the word about Orthodoxy and OCF. Change your profile picture on Facebook to the OCF logo! Participate in our #ShareAThon and flood your newsfeed with Orthodox related articles, videos, podcasts, and pictures! Take the Come & See Challenge to win points and prizes for your chapter while bringing others to the Church! Speak at your church on College Student Sunday (Oct. 2) to inform your parish about the work of OCF!
OAM is a wonderful opportunity to bring attention to the Orthodox Church to a lot of people who might never have heard of it. I encourage each of you to take this to month to do so. But it’s important to remember that OAM isn’t just about celebrating and spreading awareness of Orthodoxy. It’s about bringing people to know Jesus Christ and His Church. Yeah, it’s cool to tell people about all the crazy awesome saints we have or to explain how icons are windows to heaven or to blast beautiful Byzantine chant and bellow the ison from the bottom of your lungs, but ask yourself – am I bringing people to the nuances of Orthodoxy or am I bringing people to a life devoted to Jesus Christ?
The theme for OCF this year is Come & See, which fits perfectly into the theme of OAM. This means that during October, we are doubly responsible for spreading Orthodoxy! Make a true effort this month to share the good news of Jesus Christ to the people in your life. Let it come to them through the way you live your life – by going to church, fasting, praying, loving your neighbor. Take time to talk with them about the teachings of Christ and his Church. Show them the way, the life, and the truth that they then may experience through the beauty of Orthodoxy.
The Assembly of Bishops has designated the first Sunday of October, in conjunction with OCF’s Orthodox Awareness Month, as the date for College Student Sunday. For 2016, this falls on Sunday, October 2nd.
On this Sunday, we ask that your parish recognizes its college students by allowing a student share their experiences in OCF. We also ask that you take a collection to continue supporting the vital ministry of Orthodox Christian Fellowship.
Checks may be sent to: Orthodox Christian Fellowship, 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, MA 02445 or donations can be made online at ocf.net/donate.
Students! Are you presenting for College Student Sunday? Check out this outline for ideas about what you can say to spread the word about OCF!