There is Neither Jew Nor Greek at Holy Ascension Orthodox Christian Mission

December 10, 2017

 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3: 28).

 

Holy Ascension Mission is rooted in the apostolic consciousness of “neither Jew nor Greek… in Christ Jesus.”

 

Early Christian teachers and Church Fathers like Saints Polycarp of Smyrna and Clement of Alexandria made the shift of constituting identity by faith and life, as Christ Himself taught, rather than by race, ancestry, birthplace, citizenship or even language (Martyrdom of Polycarp 14.1 and Stromata 6.39.4).

 

Holy Ascension Mission, situated as it is in a polyethnic and multicultural nation like Australia, seeks to be a transethnic and transcultural, faith-constituted worshipping community.

 

This is not a new phenomenon. This has been the history of Orthodox Christian Holy Tradition since the days of the Apostles and especially from the First Christian Pentecost. This also has been the practice and tradition of the Church in the Byzantine Era and was even the policy of the Ottoman Empire towards the Orthodox Church: The primary identifier of any Orthodox Christian is their religion, while ethnicity and even language is subsumed under this identifier.

 

Unfortunately this transnational Orthodox ethos was disastrously marginalised by Eastern European, Balkan and Arab nationalist movements in the 19th and 20th centuries. There is therefore a widespread need for Orthodox Christians to confront nationalism and recover the inter-cultural and inter-Orthodox ethos today.

 

The call to Pan-Orthodoxy (to create assemblies of Orthodox bishops in places where a multiplicity of jurisdictions exist on the same territory) by the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Conference in Chambesy in 2009, is a good start. Let’s hope the call continues to be heeded.

 

We share one human nature in Christ. Therefore, valuing people based on opinions and ethnicity, (ethnic) pride and social status has no place in the Orthodox Church[1] in general or at Holy Ascension Mission in particular.

 

 

 

[1] Galatians 3: 28 Footnote in Orthodox Study Bible.

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