Wednesday, April 3, 2013

That we may receive the King

St George Antiochian Christian Orthodox Church - Choir
We, who mystically represent the Cherubim,
And chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity,
Let us set aside all earthly cares
That we may receive the King of all,
Who comes invisibly escorted by the angelic hosts.

As I was thinking about the protest of certain Christians against the display of an image of Cesar Chavez on (Western) Easter Sunday in the Google logo, I suddenly noticed that playing in my mental background was the cherubic hymn as I heard it sung last Sunday by the choir of my parish, St George Antiochian Christian Orthodox church, in Portland, Oregon. The text that is sung is given above.

Standing in the congregation along with others, I also sing this much beloved hymn. For years I sang it in the original Greek in the various melodies I learned in the Greek church. I still sing it when I am home alone, or walking through a peaceful forest nearby. It really surprised me to hear our wonderful choir singing it in my mind—that has never happened before—but in a different way I am not surprised.

I have written on this subject many times before: Christians standing up for their faith and traditions against the encroachment and denial by the worldly authorities. Remember the removal of the Ten Commandments from various public buildings? Or the banning of Nativity scenes from display in front of the same? Well, this is really no different. It’s just that it’s in the electronic world.

I read somewhere that Google last used an Easter themed logo around the year 2000. I’m not sure why they did it even then, but to be sure, it was really quite innocuous, an unspiritual, merely cultural expression of ‘Easter’—Easter eggs and bunnies, perhaps—absolutely no mention of Christ. Well, how could they? To even mention Jesus Christ, except as a swear word, is considered proselytizing.

My mind wanders back to the cherubic hymn, ‘We, who mystically represent the Cherubim…’ Except in the Orthodox Church, hardly any Christians even know that human beings represent the cherubim during divine worship, hardly know even what a cherub is (certainly not a chubby baby with wings!), and saddest of all, hardly know what true worship is, that is, as Christ says, ‘worship in spirit and truth.’

‘Let us lay aside all earthly cares that we may receive the King of all.’ This line of the hymn comes to mind often, when I encounter people, especially Christians, striving and struggling and standing up for their rights. It’s not mine to judge which earthly struggles are worth pursuing and which are not, but it seems to me that those that are worthy of us are few. It seems better to ‘lay aside all earthly cares…’

This is not escapism, but the exercise of Christian discernment. Under the inspiration of ‘the still, small voice’ we are guided to choose our battles rather than let our passions or baiting by the enemy draw us into hopeless confrontations. Why hopeless? Because even if we were to win, what good would it do? What if Google were to use a logo incorporating the Orthodox ikon of the Resurrection on Pascha?

Well, yes, some people might become curious and there would be more hits on Wikipedia topics having to do with Eastern Orthodoxy, ikons, and the like—maybe. But there would also be an outcry about favoring one religion over another. Does Google show a festal logo for the holy days of other faiths? It wouldn’t hurt if they did, but where might they draw a line? Major faiths only? Which are major?

Once again, in protesting what we have no right to protest, we prove to the world that we are every bit as self-interested and biased as is the world. Is it really an instance of disrespect to the Christian community for an internet company not to have an Easter logo? Do Christian churches display images of Marx, Lenin, or Darwin on their respective anniversaries? Of course not! Why should they?

The Lord warns us not to throw our pearls in front of pigs. This is not calling non-Christians ‘pigs’ but merely stating an obvious fact. Pigs (or any other animals) are not likely to have the slightest interest in jewelry that is set before them. What they want is food to fill their stomachs. This is a characteristic of those who are worldly. Scripture says that they make their bellies their god. But this is not true of us.

Cram their bellies from Your stores,
give them all the sons that they could wish for,
let them have a surplus to leave their children!
For me the reward of virtue is to see Your face,
and, on waking, to gaze my fill on Your likeness.
Psalm 17:14b-15 Jerusalem Bible

Yes, ‘let us set aside all earthly cares
That we may receive the King of all…’

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