Thursday, July 22, 2010

Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church

I was glad that there would be services on saturdays for vespers, sunday liturgies and wednesday vespers as well. There was a quiet and peaceful way about the services, very fluid and calm. They share part of a building at the university and have a place that can be partitioned off to keep the altar separate from anything else the room might be used to do, so that nothing would be disturbed. I don't know how long they have been in that spot, but they are settled, so I can imagine a bit of time. Good enough place, but packed on sundays, as many churches are, leaving it feeling smaller than other days.

The parishioners are young and old, families and single people, longtime believers and some newer, much like any church. I cannot say precisely if I was expecting something, but I certainly came away with more than before I arrived a few weeks earlier. It was a valuable experience to understand that the beauty of a church building is nothing without devout faithful people to give it life. Perhaps as an idea, it has always lingered, but it is particularly evident in the way this church was very much alive and breathing in Christ.

"Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: FOR HE THAT IS LEAST AMONG YOU ALL, THE SAME SHALL BE GREAT." Luke 9:46-48. This is particularly valid in this instance, if you can imagine the church to be as the child, as a mission church often is still establishing its roots and growing up into a more mature and fuller existence. They are the children to whom He ministers and the least, whom He does not only not forget, He has made great, in their hearts where love in Christ grows. In the valley where this little church sits, it is not a high population, but it somehow manages to overlook this beautiful gem, though they surely benefit from the grace which saturates the people and their unity in faith. I am not sure if this makes much sense to the reader, but it is the best I could do at this time.

I had been out to visit in the fall when my second nephew was born and was fortunate enough to come back again recently with my whole family and got to be there with the nephews, sister and parents. If words could describe the entirety of all that has been gained by being welcomed into their humble and simple church, it would likely take up far more pages than my fingers could write, so if you are ever in the neighborhood of Ashland, Oregon, please stop in and check out Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Christian Church where, after the service on sundays, there is usually a coffee hour where people will eat, drink and talk. This is the link for the directions, if you are ever interested: There is no time like the present, so if you live there, check it out sooner than later and if you are passing through, make it a point to stop in and say hello. Not everyone will get out of it what I have, that part is only for me, but I am sure there is something awaiting you there as well.

Much love in Christ!


Mimi said...

I've had the blessing of attending the mission when we visit for the Shakespeare Festival, and I agree, it is a wonderful mission church. I really like the priest and his family and have always felt welcomed and loved each time I've been there.