Houston is a very big city.
We moved here in 2012 not knowing much about the ramifications of big city life, especially as it might affect church life.
I am guessing at this, since I only have a data point of one, but I think that with the state of Christianity in America in 2014, if one finds oneself in an Orthodox church of mostly converts in a big city, one will find an amazing number of seriously dedicated believers.
This has been our experience at Saint Joseph Orthodox Church on Hammerly Boulevard in Houston, Texas.
As an example, there is Cecelia. Cecelia was near retirement and legally blind when we met. One Sunday, in coffee hour, she boldly, in depth, introduced herself to me, a relative stranger and a new parishioner. She shared her life story, the significant, personal, spiritual and emotional parts, as much as one can do such things in a twenty-or-so-minute coffee-hour conversation. Not being awkward as one might suspect, it was flattering and moving. The icing on this cake of self-sharing was that when she was finished, she was embarrassed at the realization of her forwardness. She hoped that the scales would be balanced and her embarrassment calmed by me telling my story to her. A week or so later, I did.
God took Cecelia a very short time later when she succumbed to post-surgical complications. I learned, painfully, that intimacy is not a function of time. The heart is not a stopwatch. I knew her for only a snippet of time, but somehow we had become close kin.
This is one story of spontaneous intimacy. There have been a bunch. This has been my experience of Saint Joseph Church over the past 2 ½ years. Has it been the big city-ness of Houston? Has it been the high percentage of converts? Has it been the current era of American Christian experience? Is this a pregnant time and place of right now and here that makes for such encounters? Whatever it is, it is an interesting (and blessed) confluence that I am experiencing! And I thank God for these moments.
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