Friday, June 22, 2012

It's not about us, it's about Him

Dear Parish Faithful,

I just finished teaching a summer “crash course” – six weeks, three hour per evening twice a week – at XU.  I had a very good student, a young African-American woman who belongs to a Pentecostal Church, probably light years away from an Orthodox church, at least in terms of worship  She attended our Liturgy about three weeks ago, and wrote an “experience paper” about her visit.  She gave the paper a title, something students usually don’t do, but her title caught the main emphasis of her paper.  The title was:  “It’s Not About Us, It’s About Him.”   Some of her opening comments were quite interesting, again remembering her background, and it sounds as if she surprised herself:

“I was shocked to find out that the majority of the service required us to stand!  When I thought about the notion of standing more closely, I realized it was a good thing.  As Christians, we become too comfortable.  Sitting down can also become a distraction as well.  There have been plenty of times where I have become too comfortable in the seat I was sitting in, and fell asleep.  By stepping out of what makes us comfortable, we inevitably become closer to God because all of our attention is on Him.  Even though my feet were killing me (I wore heels), it was worth all the pain.”

Her paragraph about the choir and singing gets to the point that her title alluded to:

“The choir consisted of a few singers, but no music.  All you heard were voices with minimal harmonies.  They sang songs that seemed to come strictly from the Bible.  It became evident to me that the songs were simply unto God.  At my church, we are definitely believers in Christ, and we love to worship God through song.  I have to admit, however, that we get caught up in the “sound.”  We get caught up in the harmonies, music, and the feel of the songs, that it is easy to forget our whole purpose in singing.  The Orthodox Church offered a pure worship that you could easily tell was for no one other than God.  The songs and the sounds of the song were repetitive as well, which allowed for the congregation to join in and experience God as well.”

All quite interesting, but here is my favorite paragraph about “preaching” and “preachers:”

“Another aspect of the Orthodox Church I noticed was how short the priest spoke.  Clearly, the attention was not meant to be focused on him. By speaking to a minimum, with no microphone, platform, or podium, you could really grasp the importance of God, and focus your attention on God.  I think that is definitely a method that all churches should adopt.  Too many preachers get caught up in trying to show off and sound good, that they take the attention away from God. I have heard pastors yell, scream, kick, stomp, and even shout.  Even though their intention is most likely not to distract people from the importance of God, that’s sometimes what they do.  I think  that is the most important aspect that I took from the Orthodox Church; it’s not about us, it all about Him.  Every word that the priest spoke, and every word that the choir sang, was strictly biblical.”

Remember that paragraph the next time you  are ready to complain about the sermon – especially the length!

And we have to further remember my students main insight:  “It’s Not About Us, It’s About Him.”


  1. Very inspiring title - it's become my personal "mantra" or "arrow prayer" when I am in the midst of circumstances that I'm not happy about, or when I feel sorry for myself.

    "It's not about us, it's about him...."

  2. Thank you for sharing...I often wonder what others think of our church services. Unlike your church, ours doesn't even have pews. My whole life I've stood for 2-3 hours every Saturday for Vigil and Sunday for Divine Liturgy and never really thought much of it, because that's just the way it is...BUT now I will make sure to value this "gift," of honoring Him by standing.


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