May 12th, 2006

HTOC

Dr. Nick

Dr. Nick

His full name is Nikolai Kostich, but he is known as Dr. Nick and thus we shall speak of him. Dr. Nick, a Serbian, is kind enough to give me a ride to work on Fridays after the early morning Matins service. Dr. Nick is retired now; he is in his seventies and lives alone. His wife suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives in an assisted living facility. He is small of frame; somehow reminding me of an elderly Kermit the Frog with a thick Serbian accent.

At any rate, he told me his story of faith today as he drove me to Neighborhood House. Dr. Nick was raised in an Orthodox society but never took to the Church in any genuine sense. After World War Two he and his countrymen found themselves under a communist regime and would attend church from time to time only as an act of protest against the government. Eventually he and his wife immigrated to the United States and had children. It was then that his wife began attending an Orthodox church again and she dragged him into it despite his reluctance. But things changed in Dr. Nick’s heart. Several speakers from St. Vladimir’s seminary passed their way through his church and suddenly all that was dead and meaningless to him began to come to life. It is only in these later years that he has become a man of the Church. And a wonderful man at that.

God grant you many years, Dr. Nick.

Furthermore, this humorous bit of dialogue took place in his car today as we listened to NPR report on the Bush administration:

Dr. Nick: I think that president Bush should resign.
Me: (Laughing) That’s not likely to happen
Dr. Nick: He wouldn’t leave even if they chased him with a stick.
Me: (Much laughter)


Ah, well.

____________________________

"The ancient garment, which the sower of sin wove for me, alas, you stripped off me, my Saviour, when you clothed yourself in me." From the Matins Liturgy
HTOC

Heaven

“Heaven is my home, I’m just passing through”

Oh?

Humanity was created for earth. We were to be the great midpoint between the purely physical animals and the purely spiritual angels. In such a position we were given a great task of uniting both the physical and the spiritual in a way that brought us into communion God and brought Him great glory. And indeed, we failed.

But we have been redeemed in the One who united both the physical and the spiritual in His incorrupt body and who washed away the consequences of the Devil’s work. We can clearly see that the preaching of the New Testament is not primarily concerned with “going to heaven when you die”. The preaching of the Church was about the crucified and risen One: alive in the present and demanding that we follow Him with our souls and our bodies. Christianity is about new creation, not about a disembodiment of the current creation. Indeed, in St. John's Revelation we see that God restores His creation and dwells among His creatures on earth, albeit a much changed locale. In the eyes of the Eastern spiritual fathers and mothers, Heaven is much less a place as it is a condition; namely perfect relationship with God and with His saints.

______________________________________________________________________
Inspired by my perusing of this blog, as this post touched off something I'd been brooding over: (http://nicea.blogspot.com/2003/12/purpose-driven-life.html)