From the Rector
Back when I was in seminary, I had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia, where I experienced the unique holiness and beauty of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church traces its history back to the time of the apostles, and because the country was never colonized by Europe, it remains incredibly distinct among the Christian world. I wonder if you know that the church just down Hillcrest from us, cattycorner from Temple Shalom at the corner of Alpha, is an Ethiopian Orthodox church?
Among the many experiences of that trip that has stuck with me is the tradition in Ethiopian Orthodoxy of removing your shoes upon entering the church. Much like in Islam, shoes are left at the door of the sanctuary. This tradition comes from the Biblical story we’ll hear this weekend (Exodus 3:1-15) about the day Moses met God in the form of a burning bush, and God directed him to remove his shoes because he was standing on “holy ground.” Ethiopian Orthodox understand the church in a similar way: it is holy ground, and so wearing shoes would be inappropriate. I remember being struck by how such a simple action of removing my shoes helped me prepare to enter the church. Sitting there for a few moments, untying the laces and taking off the shoes, helped my spirit to be open to the holiness of that place.
I wonder how you get ready to worship or pray? Perhaps it’s not removing your shoes, but it could be a similarly humble, simple act – just something to jog your mind and heart out of the rhythm of your busy life and into fuller awareness of God’s presence. So, something like kneeling quietly, taking a full, deep breath, and saying to God, “I am here now, God. I know this is holy ground. Help me be fully present to you, even as you are fully present to me.”
A little bit of extra mindfulness made a big difference for Moses, and it can make a big difference for us, too, as we seek to turn aside to meet with God in our church, our homes, and all the other holy places of our world.
See you this weekend,