The video above is of the last night of the Greek Festival in Alabama, right after the night finished. At this point the festival booths have closed, and the band is playing a closing piece or two. The members of the parish and the visitors who are left have joined in a massive dance to celebrate a successful festival. By this time it is after 10:00 pm and this is our last burst of energy. Well, I should say their last bit of energy because I did not join in the dance.
What was even better is that there were Greeks (of course!), converts, Arabs, converts, Slavs, and converts. I looked at the dance and I thought that this was a wonderful picture of what the ideal Church is like. Some of the people dancing know how to dance the dances perfectly. They have grown up in the Church. They have gone to the dance classes and watched their own parents dance them. Some people are clearly doing it as best they can. I took more than one video. At least one person in one of the videos is clearly faking it, but having fun doing it.
In the ideal situation, converts need to learn from those who have grown up in the Church. Yes, I know that ideal situations are not often there. But, we must hold on to the ideal. We must teach the ideal. We must expect the ideal. If the Church is to be the Church, the ideal is what we must teach and expect.
There have been too many fights between cradles and converts. Both sides have been somewhat at fault. There have been cradles who have had supercilious and judgmental attitudes toward converts. There have been converts who have had the same attitudes toward cradles. Frankly, both are displaying sinful attitudes.
But, I am fortunate. I am attached to a parish that is a joyful example of the opposite. It used to use all Greek in the 1950’s. It now uses about 10% Greek. On the other hand, there are regular chrismations of converts. And, the video above shows how well all are integrated. More than that, the mixed population of various Orthodox show that it is possible to have a Greek Orthodox parish that honors its heritage without repressing other heritages. I am so blessed!
Perhaps this is a small picture of what is possible in the future as the various jurisdictions become part of one Orthodoxy in America. I hope that the parish I am in is studied by our bishops as an example of what can be accomplished.