Steve and I were unable to attend church one Sunday, but we read the Epistle and Gospel together. As I read out loud about the prodigal son I could hardly speak through my tears. To Steve’s questioning, I replied, “Well, we are all prodigals in a sense, aren’t we?” He agreed that we are. The reading illustrates the profound grace that God has given us—in this life, in our salvation, and in leading us to Holy Cross.
My background is mostly Baptist, but Steve grew up Episcopalian, so we attended Episcopal churches for many years. We loved the liturgical aspect of the Episcopal Church, but became troubled by the apparent departure from scripture with respect to social issues such as the sanctity of human life and morality. I returned to a Baptist church. While I’m grateful for many things there, I remember thinking one Mother’s Day, “Surely the sermon will be about Mary today,” but she was never mentioned. On another day the pastor said that Peter was crucified upside down. I wondered how he knew this and pictured a giant puzzle piece over my head filled with information on what happened between the book of Revelation and the Reformation. I wanted to know what was in the puzzle piece!
By God’s grace we were about to find out. Our daughter Amy and her husband Josh invited us to Holy Cross in 2009 when they joined with their children. Steve recognized right away this was where we belonged. As I listened to what was said, read, and sung, I was captivated by the extensive amount of scripture proclaimed during the service. The contents of the puzzle piece began to be revealed as Fr. Christopher taught us in the inquirers and catechumen classes, and we started reading the works of the church fathers and the Prologue of Ohrid.
Once on the drive in for Divine Liturgy I experienced something extraordinary. Suddenly I heard the first antiphon: “Bless the Lord…”. It was different from hearing a replay of it in my head. The refrain just sprang up unexpectedly from somewhere deep within me with excitement that we would arrive at Holy Cross shortly. Luke 1:47 came to mind: “;my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
That was one of many tender moments in my transition to this new realm of worship. As Archbishop Nikon said to Steve about our conversion, “Welcome home.” Through Holy Cross, Orthodoxy has shown us the beauty, fullness, and wisdom of the church, and guides us as we seek to live out our faith in Christ. We are very thankful for Fr. Christopher and for each of you. You have ministered to us in countless ways, brought us meals, helped us bear the burdens of sorrow, and shared in our times of joy.
Raising the Cross Capital Campaign and the Building Project provide an amazing opportunity to participate in work of great importance: to ensure the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed here for many years to come, and that the true faith founded by the apostles is shared with future generations. We look forward with great joy to our first worship service in our new home.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 33:4)
Pam (Photina) Richards
Holy Cross Orthodox Church · www.holycrossoca.org