Orderly matters in our beloved church (‎‏4‏)- PROPERTY

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This is our fourth newsletter discussing orderly matters in our church. I pray that you are enjoying this series as much as I am.  This month we are going to discuss property.  When I say property, I mean to deal with/care for our church property, including the buildings, icons, pews, grass areas, etc. in a Christian way.  When I speak of property, I am speaking of temporal goods, movable and immovable items. The proper objective of these temporal goods or properties is to provide support for worship, ministry, and charitable work. Therefore, we can look at these temporal goods as ecclesiastical goods. Of course, we all know that the church buildings, icons, and altar vessels are ecclesiastical goods because they are used during worship, are consecrated, prayed upon, and anointed with Holy Chrism. The church buildings and icons have very special importance that we not only respect, but we treat well because they offer us blessings. The scriptures speak to us about the consecration of the tabernacle…saying, “Also Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them” (Lev 8:10).  Everything in the tabernacle was consecrated and, therefore, dedicated to God.  The tabernacle was not to be handled in a sloppy way.  It was to be carried by specially selected Levites, who handled the tabernacle in a certain way and walked in a specific order.  The reverence given to the tabernacle was an expression of the reverence the Levites offered to God.  Similarly, we offer respect to the church buildings and all the properties inside as a sign of reverence to God because they are consecrated to the worship of God.  For this reason, food (including Chips, gum, cookies, etc.) and drinks (Soda, Coffee, etc.) are not allowed in the church buildings because they are a place of worship.

   Iwill extend this further to items/areas outside of the church buildings, such as the playground, parking lot, basketball court, grass areas and anything that is not officially consecrated.  Although all these items/areas are not consecrated and are not used directly in the service, we must respect them and treat them properly. This is simply the Christian way to treat property and show good citizenship by keeping and maintaining our common items/areas. It’s a matter of stewardship to keep and maintain property in which we worship.  I am not talking about civil behavior that governs our attitude towards church property, but rather, a true Christian attitude, which reflects good citizenship. The scriptures call upon us to “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities…Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Rom 13:1-7).  We understand that citizenship is part of who we are as a person and that we are to be good citizens in the world, especially within the church and towards its properties.  The Ten Commandments tell us, “Thou shall not steal;” this commandment means to not deprive someone from their property. The church buildings and all of its contents belong to God and are cared for by the congregation. When we vandalize, misuse or abuse the church properties, we break this commandment as we deprive others from its full and proper use. It is also a waist of the church’s financial resources as the church attempts to replace or fix what has been vandalized.  These financial resources could be used for other much needed services. Caring for the church properties is an active way to keep us all connected, not just as a group of people who practice the same religion, but as a real community that shares and takes care of their church properties together.  As true orthodox Christian, we should not have a violent or destructive spirit, or express hostility towards any property, including the church property. I believe if our congregation starts to participate more in serving one another and in serving the church, we will develop a sense of ownership, respect, gratitude, and honor towards the church and its properties. Above all, we will obtain the spirit of joy and humility.

2 thoughts on “Orderly matters in our beloved church (‎‏4‏)- PROPERTY”

  1. I enjoyed this article. Forgive me for having my own thoughts concerning the actual logic of this article. I am probably wrong, so I won’t mind being corrected; on the one hand I’ll learn humility while on the other hand I’ll learn the correct thought.
    When we consider the ecclesiastical structure of the church in comparison to that hierarchy in the Heavenly kingdom, we try to use this same argument towards everything. What argument is that? We purport “Since there is an analogy between the heavenly and the earthly, then that which is earthly can be attributed that which is heavenly.” Now this is a typology because we can see that which is heavenly describing that which is of the earth, but is this really a strong enough argument to justify not vandalizing the Youth Center? Are we so bold to argue that “given that the earthly church is a type of heaven church, we must respect the basketball court” is a non-sequitur fallacy of thought.

    I am not arguing that the property of the church is to be disrespected, but rather I believe that the desire to keep the church orderly and respected is an expression of internal love, not a fear of typology.

    If we consider the love of property, the pride of the church, and the realization of the great gift God gave us, we now find a much more realistic, personal love. Although I cannot understand how the heavenly hosts represent the Ecclesiastical ranks of the deacons, priest, and bishops, I am able to understand that we are more fortunate than most other churches, even organizations, to have the gifts that we have.
    We arrive now to the idea of Thanksgiving, the true recognition and awe of what God has done for us. He has provided our children these places to grow up, to pray, and to seek an intimate relationship with God. We find an appreciation just as Adam did; God gave him the garden to provide for all his needs and allowed him to care over the creation. Adam lovingly named each animal and worked hard for the environment his God gave him. Likewise, we the children of orthodoxy love our church as our home that God has given us; in the spirit of Thanksgiving we are not only in awe of what He has given us, but are astounded that He has provided for all of our needs just as He had done for Adam.
    The reason I am criticizing this article is because love is stronger than fear. Sure, an understanding of the ecclesiastical order as well as the repercussions of our ridiculous actions, such as allowing the youth to draw in liturgy books, kicking holes into the youth center wall, or decimating the crying room, may deter us from these actions, but what is compelling us to pick up a chair or stop our children from drawing on sacred texts? This must come from a love of the church. No amount of logic or big words can convince any of us to care for our church; this comes from an interior motivation and desire to make a difference.
    What am I arguing? We need to realize the gift that God gave us, whether it is the church interior, the icons, the youth center, or even the grass outside, truly be thankful for what God has given us, and preserve this gift for our children and the rest of the community. The thought must start with realizing God gave us a gift, move towards realizing God gave everyone a gift, and end with us all glorifying God because of the gifts that He has given us. We need to enter the church with Thanksgiving, realize the abundance of grace that has been poured upon us, and treat this grace with awe and respect.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read the article and comment on it. The article dealt with the consecrated items differently than the unconsecrated. We dealt with the consecrated items in light of the way the scriptures and the fathers spoke of dealing with the Tabernacle. This is the valid way of dealing with the matter, because the church is the new Tabernacle, in it’s structure, division, etc.

      In regards to the other unconsecrated items, we dealt with them differently, as we ought to, we ought to respect property in general. As Christians we ought to care and respect all properties. The article didn’t address the topic from a distinctive point of views in regards to fear Vs. love, there was reference to planting fear in the hearts of anyone.

      Thank you for reading and writing to us.

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