I have frequently had reason to ask: who’s keeping whom? When I was received into the Orthodox faith, I and the rest of my family, stood one by one before the Gospel and a hand-cross to make a solemn promise:
This true faith of the Orthodox Church, which I now voluntarily confess and truly hold, that same I will firmly maintain and confess, whole and unchanged, even until my last breath, God helping me. And I will teach and proclaim it, insofar as I am able. And I will strive to fulfill its obligations with zeal and joy, preserving my heart in good deeds and blamelessness. In witness of this, my true and pure-hearted confession, I kiss the Word and Cross of my Savior. Amen (from the OCA service for the Reception of Converts)
My experience, with regard to the Orthodox faith, has been not so much my keeping the faith – but the faith keeping me. I recall reading, in my late teen years, C.S. Lewis’ autobiography, Surprised by Joy. It is clear that when Lewis relates his conversion to the Christian faith, he no longer asked the question: “What do I believe?” but rather asked the question: “What is a Christian to believe?” Thus, he turned his attention to Scripture and to the Fathers of the Church. The universal quality of his Christian writing is that he simply speaks from the depths of the Christian faith rather than from the depths of his own delusions and imagination. Becoming a Christian means learning what it is to be kept by the faith rather than simply joining an organization and then setting about picking and choosing one’s personal doctrines.
This aspect of the faith was clear to me in coming to the Orthodox Church. It was set before me as an oath, confirmed by a kiss of the Gospel and the Cross, and sealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit in anointing with the all-holy Chrism.
I offer thanks today – beyond measure. My family and I mark the 10th anniversary of that Sunday of the Prodigal Son (February 15, 1998), when we stood together in Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Columbia, S.C., and offered ourselves to God and were received into the Holy Orthodox Faith.
In the years since – the blessings and struggles we have shared have always been supported by the faith which keeps us, when we could not possibly keep ourselves. May God grant His continued blessing to my family – to their ministries and their homes. May He keep them always as His own and give us hearts of grateful thanksgiving.
Glory to God for all things!