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#71 Cradle or Convert?

Summary:

We sometimes describe people as cradles or converts; but instead of describing people, that can divide us. And they're a bit misleading: we aren't born into the Church, and there isn't a specific moment in the past when we enter the Church. We're actually pilgrims, making our way to Christ, growing closer to Him everyday. 

Questions:

As you watch the episode, consider:

1. Why do you think this language of "Cradle and Convert" creates division rather than unity? 

2. Ethnicity isn't a bad thing for the life of the Church, but as the Body of Christ, what are some ways we can be embracing of all people who enter the Church?

3. As members of the Church, either from a young age or later on in life, are we to hide this treasure given to us?  How do we "make disciples of all nations" as Christ has commanded us to?

Check out these model lesson plans / retreat sessions for JOY and GOYA!

Links:

And here are some articles you may find to be helpful:

1. Bible Gateway, John 3:5

2. Bible Gateway, Galatians 3:27

3. Orthodox Way of Life, Am I Born Again?

4. Orthodox Way of Life, United with Grace

Script:

Hey everybody this is Steve and Christians aren't born, they're made. We when look at who's in the Church, and when they entered, we sometimes divide ourselves into two groups: cradles and converts.  While those can be words to describe people, they sometimes become ways to divide people, and create distrust.  This cradle and convert language can make it seem like some people are born into the Church, while others enter later in life.  Yet when we look at this with the eyes of a bee, we'll see that none of

us are cradles, and none of us are converts.  No one's born into the Church, at least not the way we normally think about being born, and it's an over-simplification to say that there was a particular time when we became Orthodox.

 

Let me explain what I mean.  An early Christian writer named Tertullian once wrote that "Christians aren't born, they're made."  Christians are made in our rebirth in water and spirit, as Christ says in John 3:5.  When we're baptized our old self dies and we're born again into true life in the Church, members of Christ's Body.  As St Paul writes, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27).  The Church isn't an ethnicity.  Being Greek or Russian or Lebanese, and being Orthodox, aren't the same thing. 

 

So in that sense, we're all converts.  We've all set aside sin and death for love and life.  Whether we make that change as infants or as adults is irrelevant.  As Christians, we all make that change at some point.  Did you know that's actually why some Christians, especially Orthodox Christians, don't celebrate their birthdays?  Because we're biologically born into death.  But when we're baptized into Christ, into the Church, we're born into life.  So no one's really a cradle Christian, but what about being a convert?  Well, let's take a closer look at how we become Christians in the fi  rst place.  We usually say that we enter the Church when we're baptized, which is true, but a bit of an over-simplification.  Because after we're baptized, we receive chrismation.  And after we're chrismated, we receive Holy Communion.  And all of that together is our initiation into the Church.  

 

But our journey doesn't end there, which is why it's a bit misleading to say that a person converted at some point in the past.  In order to be Christians, we’re baptized into Christ; we receive the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit at chrismation, and we receive Christ's very Body at Communion.  And this in particular, receiving Holy Communion, is something we can do at every Divine Liturgy; every Sunday, if not every day.  Every time we receive Holy Communion, we're more perfectly received into Christ, we more perfectly become our true selves.  Actually becoming a Christian isn't a thing that simply happens at a point in time.  It's a life-long process.  Though we convert when we first join the Church, we spend our lives in the process of conversion, drawing closer to Christ with every prayer, every act of love, every time we receive His Body and Blood. 

 

So, maybe we should use a different word.  One that describes all of us instead of dividing us into groups.  One that reflects that we both are, and are in the process of becoming, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  When I was at Holy Cross Seminary, our School President, Fr. Nick, a man I really admire, always used to describe people as pilgrims.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that it's such a great, bee-ish way to see people.  Because we're all on a journey, we're all invited to walk this path of sanctification.  This path of constant conversion, of constant repentance.  Of constantly falling deeper and deeper into this awesome mystery of encountering Christ and being untied with Him.  And just as we've received this invitation, we should extend it to others as well, so that new people can receive true life in Christ. 

 

So be the bee, be a Bee-liever, and share this video with your friends and family, and recommend them a good book on the Faith.  Even better, invite them to Liturgy this Sunday.  Be a bee-liever, and invite those you love with you on your walk, your pilgrimage, to Christ.  So let's Be the Bee, and grow close to Christ every moment of every day.  Be the Bee, and Live Orthodoxy.  Remember to like, subscribe, and share.  I'll see you all next week.

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