Dear Walter: thank you for your comments. Your story is an inspiration to me.
I first found Orthodoxy worship not in splendour and beauty but, it must truly be said, in dank, dark, rather grubby circumstances. It was a small community in an essentially derelict building. It was the middle of winter with a howling gale outside, and bitter winds blowing through the missing windows and rain falling through gaps in the roof. The vestments were shabby and tattered. Everything else ? the vessels, the icons, the altar ? seemed to be the decaying detritus of better days. The chanting was a long way from wonderful. Five of us stood in the congregation, shivering, while a Priest and two assistants (all of whom looked like they lived in cardboard boxes) offered the Divine Liturgy. And yet ? it was the ?and yet? that drew me to Orthodoxy! There was not a single thing about the service that did other than repel me aesthetically, musically, liturgically. And yet ? although it shouldn?t, probably couldn?t, have happened, the Presence of the Divine Glory was overwhelmingly manifest in that place. As we approach the season of the Nativity, I am forced to think that it shouldn?t, probably couldn?t, have manifested in a stable either.
My concerns about the alienating effect of ethnic Orthodoxy are not for me (or you). I find traditional Orthodoxy worship very much to my taste (albeit now, not in derelict buildings!). It is for those who will not even approach that which they perceive to be ?foreign?. What is our responsibility to them? And what is our responsibility to the young Westernised (and whether that is a good thing or not is irrelevant: they are Westernised) Orthodox men and women who are wandering away from the Church in droves? I frequently speak to distressed parents whose children feel alienated from what they now see as a ?foreign Church?. Can we abandon them? In Sydney, where I live, there are no regular Liturgies in English in the Greek Orthodox Church. The same is true for most other Orthodox jurisdictions. Is this how we evangelize those who only speak English?
I do not believe (obviously from my comments!) that the ?Roman option? is acceptable. But ? I must ask, and ask, and ask again ? what are we Orthodox doing to provide an alternative? Not, Walter, for you and for me. But for those who are searching, or feel alienated and lost.
I ask your prayers ? and would value your further comments.