Thursday, January 26, 2012

On lost children

I was looking at a post on Facebook about children lost by family and friends, and I wanted to share on how much comfort the understandings of therelations of the living and the dead in Orthodoxy , but realized that it would be too difficult.

There are many things that, if anyone from the background of faith tradition common to my family (Baptist) heard without extensive explanation, would be immediately written off as pagan or worse, and yet, 10 minutes or so with Scripture and explanation could begin to show how those understandings are Biblical - can certainly be shown to have Scriptural support. In this case, a number of ideas that we never connected the dots on in my experience with the Baptists are connected in Orthodoxy, for example, that the dead are alive in God, that God is not the God of tbe dead, but of the living, together with Christ speaking with the "dead" Moses and Elijah and being witnessed(!) by living men and that we have a cloud of witnesses; that the saints that have passed on can constitute a cloud of witnesses, then a person might vegin to understand that we can say things, and people that have died, by the grace of God, can know that we say them, and that, being alive in Christ, we can ask them to pray for us just as we ask our friend Joe to pray for us (which is asking for intercession, for our friend to intercede for us, to also ask for us, not mediation or worship). These are things that sound odd, perhaps like Mormon practices at first glance, yet each of the ideas that lead to such understandings is found in the New Testament.

There are much better and more thorough, and therefore satisfying explanations, but it adds up to the fact that, if one accepts the logic of my faith, then death is not "game over" as it is in the Baptist tradition, and we may continue to say things we believe they can hear (praying in the sense of asking; intercessory prayer) and so pray to them and ask for them to pray for us to God. In short, we are not entirely so cut off from those dear children as Protestant traditions generally hold, and this gives great comfort. We don't need to visit a gravesite to speak to them - that is actually much more pagan. I can say, "Dear xxx, please pray to the Lord for us!" and can a believer honestly think God will not hear the prayers of those little ones who are of the Kingdom of heaven?


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