You rascally little squirrel…

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Blessing of the Waters–Theophany

Hunter Wilson/Daily News

Hunter Wilson/Daily News

My church (Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission) was featured in a local news article, covering our celebration of Theophany. If nothing else, please check out the slideshow presentation, which includes some stunning audio and images!

Sadly, I couldn’t attend this service, since I was working.   Next year.

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Going to China!

Hello friends!

ShanghaiThanks to James’ encouragement, I thought I ought to give a little update before Kaylen and I leave for China. For those of you who don’t already know, we’ll be heading out on the 24th of August. We’re both really excited about being in Shanghai but we’re equally nervous about teaching. We had thought we’d be teaching ESL but it turns out that we won’t. I think that I’ll be teaching several regular English classes and a History class. Kaylen will be teaching several English classes, a Geography class and a Drama class. We expect to teach elementary students. The students won’t necessarily be Chinese because we’ll teach at the International Division of a Chinese school.

Shortly after we arrive, we’ll attend a one-week orientation in Shanghai. We’ll get several briefings on how to survive in China and we’ll get some practice teaching.

I’ve been receiving a lot of great books lately which I’m trying desperately to fit into my suitcase. To name a few, I’ve got: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Mouse Guard by David Peterson and The Inner Kingdom vol. I by Bishop Kallistos Ware. So I guess that I’ll have plenty to read over the 13 hour flight—of course I probably should spend that time practicing Chinese…

I miss Orthodox worship. We went once to an OCA Church in Seattle a while back and it was beautiful. Last Sunday we attended Mars Hill Church and listened to a great sermon on money which you can listen to here It was the first sermon I’d ever seen on a projector screen (I didn’t realize it at the time, but the sermon was first delivered in November) and, if you can believe it, this felt quite natural after the first few minutes. The reason it felt like the pastor was in the room was that the sound system was excellent enough to prevent Driscoll’s voice from sounding electronic.

Mars Hill is a quickly growing inter-denominational church (one of the fastest-growing in the country) which, instead building on one enormous campus, is building multiple campuses around Seattle with different pastors. Since services are often packed out, and since the senior pastor, Mark Driscoll can’t be in more than one place at a time, Driscoll will sometimes be preaching at one campus while video is streamed live to the next campus.

This church takes a lot of heat from bloggers—nevertheless, it is one of the best run protestant churches I have seen. The worship is not cheesy, as is much modern “praise music”, but is well-made, is original and is theologically deep. Mars Hill offers free counseling and recovery groups for “people who have been sexually abused; addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, and/or pornography; women who have had an abortion; etc.” In addition to this the sermons are well-crafted, honest, thought provoking and, at times, disarmingly funny.

That being said, it is a world away from Eastern Orthodoxy (with which I’ve fallen in love over the past year). Seeing Protestantism at its best alongside Orthodoxy raises several questions I’d like to ask myself and Orthodox Christians:

Is God raising up and blessing churches like Mars Hill?
Is there anything that Orthodox churches in America should learn from churches like Mars Hill? If so, how much?

But back to our departure to China…By the time we arrive in China, I may not be able to access this blog (wordpress is censored in China I hear). So if Kaylen and I get a blog we’ll probably be hosting it elsewhere. We’ll do our best to make sure all friends and family are informed about the new web address. Take care and God bless!