The Relevance of Orthodoxy
by Marc Bastawrous
It’s one of my earliest childhood memories. It’s a Saturday night and the whole family is together when my Dad asks those words us kids always dreaded hearing, “why don’t we all go and get dinner?”
Family dinner nights meant sitting around at some restaurant arguing with my sisters and fending off questions about school from both my parents. It almost felt like we were being punished for something. Although, every now and then on the way home, Dad would ask the only question we longed to hear from him, “who wants to rent a movie from Civic Video?”
You could not describe our joy! That feeling of running down the aisles of Civic Video looking for movies we would binge together that night over popcorn and ice-cream was so exhilarating. The process of finding a movie would often take about an hour; trying to find one that catered to everyone’s taste was not easy (I had to learn to enjoy Romantic Comedies).
Nights like these were so joyful in our family because they were so rare. The reason for this was due to a combination of school nights and more so, the sheer effort it took to go and rent a movie.
Since Netflix entered the scene, places like Civic and Blockbuster have fallen into an abyss of absolute worthlessness. In fact, the Blockbuster right beside my school burned down and we didn’t hear about it until we returned from our summer holiday. Such was their insignificance. However, that’s not to say they went down without a fight. Perhaps you would have noticed a few Blockbuster ‘vending machines’ whilst walking on the street. They downsized from large shops to vending machines in order to make it easier for the public to rent movies and more importantly, to stay relevant. Nonetheless, it was still no match for the simplicity and accessibility of Netflix.
Throughout all of history, you will find that businesses, the entertainment industry and even world leaders will have taken steps in order to remain relevant. In fact, life itself demands us to stay relevant if we are to thrive.
If you look up the definition of ‘relevant’ here’s what you’ll find:
def: Relevant /ˈrɛləv(ə)nt/
– appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest.
So then, how does the church fit into this picture of relevancy?
Well, throughout the history of Christianity, many churches, like Blockbuster and Civic video, have tried to mould themselves to suit the interests of their times (hence the Protestant movement). One church has remained stubborn though. The Orthodox Church.
Orthodoxy means ‘right’ or ‘straight worship’ and the Orthodox Church represents the earliest church founded by the Apostles on the belief of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection over 2000 years ago. Thus, Orthodoxy embodies original Christianity. It is not a denomination; it is pre-denominationalas it has existed since before the schisms of Christianity. Through the course of these past 2000 years as such, the Orthodox church has held fast to its traditions, maintaining the sacraments and important elements of the liturgy.
Therefore, the obvious question that comes to us is, how does a church that holds so tightly to a 2000-year-old tradition, instituted by a bunch of old dudes preaching about the need to bear the heavy burdenof the Cross, stay relevant in an era that functions on simplicity? The answer: it doesn’t. And that’s what makes it relevant.
It is relevant in its need. As the cliché goes – “the church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” The fact that the Orthodox faith has not deviated even in the slightest from the earliest church means it tailors to the needs of the world in the purest form of Christianity.
It is relevant in its worship. If I wanted to get the most out of my car, who would be the best person to talk to: the creator of the car, or the creator of a different car? Christ Himself established the Orthodox church and passed it on to the Apostles, hence providing us with the most unblemished way of worshipping God.
It is relevant in its universality. In our Creed we say, “in one, holy, universal and apostolic church.” There are no boundaries. The Orthodox church is open to all people from all different walks of life.
The church today has grown, been established abroad and progressed to the point where the liturgy and Gospel are spoken in many languages; but the fact that it remains unchanged until today is part of its beauty.
It is an ancient faith in a modern world!
So then, is Orthodoxy relevant? The simple answer is:
It’s not supposed to be.
But, here’s the thing. That which is timeless will always be relevant.