Periodically I drive by a large Baptist church. Standing prominently at the side of the road is what seems to have become the “classic” church sign. There, various entertaining or sometimes perplexing little puns or statements amuse (or disturb) passers by.
As I drove by today, the sign proudly proclaimed: “This is not the same Baptist church that your grandma went to.”
This admission reveals much. Maybe more then they intended for a church sign. It could be summed up simply by saying, “we’ve changed.”
I have a grandma. She still has what some might call “old world” principles. I think that she is a little shocked at the modern world, but, at the same time, has become somewhat numb to it. My grandma has morals. Wow, imagine a church of principled and moral people? Crazy.
But grandma is behind the times. Grandma is not hip. Grandma is on her way out. Grandma is not permissive enough. Grandma, you are nice and all that, but you don’t get it anymore. In this lies the root. In a modern Protestant system the true dictator is the “times.” Christianity is no longer an eternal principle which must be guarded and kept true for upcoming generations. It is a system that is ever playing catch up to the world. In reality the Protestant system is only a product of “times” and thus is always a slave to them; to such a degree that grandma would not recognize a church any more, nor possibly feel welcome and at home. So much for that “old time religion.”
I find it a sad statement. But one that reveals in its own way a deep principle of modern Protestant Christianity, and more broadly the modern mentality regarding spirituality and religion in general. No grandmas welcome. (It would be a rabbit trail of sorts to touch upon the cult of youth that dominates American society, and even its churches.)
Not long ago, at a clergy gathering, I heard an older priest say, “There is a saying: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I think the problem today is that we are not teaching the new dogs the old tricks.”
The true Church is a place where grandma, great-grandma, great-great-grandma, and so on, should be at home. It’s the place where the new dogs come to learn the old tricks. Why? Because the principles of Christian teaching and worship are not founded on this mutable world. The Church, the Orthodox Church, is a image of the changeless and undying age – the Kingdom of Heaven. This world is passing away.
Grandma, the Orthodox Church is the same Church that has held fast for two thousands years. Let the Baptists build on moving sand. Grandma, you are welcome in the Orthodox Church. It will always be the Church for every true and dedicated Christian.