Ancient History meets American History

St. Paul Orthodox Church at the 250th Anniversary of the Borough of Emmaus
St. Paul Orthodox Church at the 250th Anniversary of the Borough of Emmaus

On Saturday the 15th of August, after we completed services for the Dormition, members of the Orthodox Church of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, manned a booth at the festival marking the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Borough of Emmaus. One could say that we are a church obsessed with history, and so it is only fitting that we should make one small footprint into the history of the borough which has been the home of our parish for 25 years (22 since our official founding).

We’re contemplating putting something into the next time capsule.

A time capsule is rather a curious thing—an archive buried in the ground. I suppose it helps to keep those things archived from growing stale in a museum somewhere.

History is peculiarly significant for the Orthodox, who prize the Incarnation so very highly and make it the touchstone of all theology. That the immaterial, trans-temporal God should become material and temporally bound is still a contradiction the human mind cannot grasp, despite its familiar feel by means of the Christian tradition.

We sometimes need to be scandalized anew by this reality, much as the woman who visited the aforesaid booth and was scandalized by all the “stuff”-ness of our church life. Surely the God Who stepped into history and made crude matter capable of carrying divinity could not have meant to be worshiped by liturgy! Certainly, our visitor probably did not think of herself as a spirit-matter dualist, but that is of course the assumption underlying all suspicion and rejection of history, liturgy, virginity, asceticism, and—what is more—all that kissing of stuff that I didn’t get a chance to describe to her.