June 12, 2013

Apollos and our Mission

When Aquila and Priscilla heard [Apollos], they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:26)

Christ is risen!

It must have been tough for Apollos to accept the mentoring of Aquila and Priscilla. After all, he was apparently already quite successful as a new Christian preacher. He was widely known as “an eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures.” But he had enough humility to accept that he still had things to learn. He wanted to be better.

One of the striking facts about the missionaries in Acts is that they were not satisfied with mediocrity. Recently someone reminded me of Jim Collins’ bestseller, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t. After studying more than a thousand companies over forty years of performance Collins concluded that two basic factors distinguished the great from the good. 1. Unwavering will to succeed. 2. Unwavering willingness to face reality with brutal honesty.

We have a task in North America, to bring the message of Christ, as we know him in our Orthodox Church, to those who have never heard, or may have turned their backs on Christianity. Do we have an unwavering will to succeed? Can we look reality squarely in the face and ask searching questions about who we are, how we are perceived and who we are trying to reach?

Apollos had experienced Christ and the Church as life-changing. He wanted to share this and he was willing to do whatever it took—even at the cost of his own pride—to do this well.

Leavetaking Pascha

This morning at the Chancery we celebrated the leave-taking of Pascha with the same bright Paschal Liturgy we sang in the middle of the night forty days ago to begin the Easter season. One last time I take a look at the hundreds of Paschal photos from around the Orthodox Church in America. We are a tiny speck on the North American religious scene, but even so as I look at our communities it is a sign to me of God’s presence that this “strange Orthodox Church,” as Father Lev Gillet called it, finds a home in the hearts of such a diverse range of people across this continent. And when I wish that our numbers were greater, I remember that it doesn’t take many of us to fulfill the Lord’s commission to be that pinch of salt our world needs.