Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Unchurchables

With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Your servants where there is no pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life everlasting.

O God of spirits and of all flesh, You have trampled down death and have abolished the power of the devil, giving life to Your world. Give rest to the souls of Your departed servants, in a place of light, in a place of repose, in a place of refreshment, where there is no pain, sorrow, and suffering. As a good and loving God, forgive every sin they have committed in thought, word or deed, for there is no one who lives and is sinless. You alone are without sin. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your word is truth. For You are the resurrection, the life and the repose of Your departed servants, Christ our God, and to You we give glory, with Your eternal Father and Your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.
— Greek Orthodox Memorial Service

Looking for a suitable photograph of Mother Maria Skobtsova to use in a post, I ran across a webpage that I have discovered once or twice before, Hagiography Circle, an online resource for Roman Catholics to connect to their saints. The photo of Mother Maria was on a page titled Non-Catholic Models. The page had an apologetic for why the site would dare to post the stories of non-Catholics who, if they had been Catholics, might be considered saints:

"As it is true in the Catholic faith, several members of the Orthodox and Protestant churches have responded generously to this divine grace by allowing the Spirit to work fully in and through their lives - even to the point of martyrdom - for the sake of the Reign."
I was simply impressed how anyone could make such a statement. It demonstrates to me a very fatal flaw in what passes for the Church in this world. There are just too many good examples of people living in Christ outside what a particular institution calls 'the Church.' I call these examples, "the Unchurchables," not because they did not belong to the Church, but because somehow they "slipped through the pews and escaped," to do the work that Christ had called them to.

I have not examined the lives of most of the people depicted in the photos, but I do know the stories of some of them, and I know of many others that could be added. I wonder how things look to them from their angles of the Throne. As C. S. Lewis (who in my estimation should have his picture there, so I added it!) has said, when all is said and done, "there will be some surprises."

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:9-10 NIV

No comments: