Is Your Palm Tree on Fire?

No one likes to get a call from the neighbors, “Hey, just wanted to let you know that your palm tree is on fire.” I am so grateful that my neighbors to the West call when we are on fire and that the neighbor to the East is a fire fighter and is home when you need him. So, not unlike Moses, we had our own burning bush experience.

Maybe you know the story:

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Mid’ian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.” Then he said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:1-5

It got me to thinking that although we know the site of the burning bush, at St. Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, there is no need to go there for a holy ground experience. If Gerald Manley Hopkins, the poet-priest, is right and “all creation is a gigantic burning bush” then we are always on holy ground. The Lord can show Himself at any time.

I believe it was St. John Chrysostom who said that every family is a Domestic Church. It is in the Christian home that we live out the faith.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

Every action, meal, event, and interaction in my home is to be connected with the Body of Christ. My dinning table fellowship is not to be out of communion with the holy table. Our families are to have the same ministry as the parish church; worship, Christian fellowship, charity, education in the faith, growth in virtue, evangelism, hospitality and works of mercy.

What do you think about the “domestic church” idea found in Orthodoxy? In what ways is the whole world a “gigantic burning bush?”

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3 Comments

Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Regarding the Present Moment

3 responses to “Is Your Palm Tree on Fire?

  1. Devon

    Domestic church? New concept for me to ponder.
    Curiously, I have two reactions . . . and I don’t know which I believe at this point.
    The first is how utterly comforting it would be to know without question that home is hallowed ground. The second is, how terrifying!
    Who am I, to minister to other souls – when my own is still seeking answers?

  2. @Devon

    I’m right with you on the comfortingly terrifying idea! You hit the nail right on the head!

    I take a little comfort in that “church is for the sinners” like me. My Domestic Church is no more for the already saintly than the other one I’m a member of.

  3. Fr. James Coles

    “Domestic Church” encourages me to pray more with the family in a semi-organized way. Not only at meals but standing before the icons in our home. We sometimes sing the troparia of the feast, etc., and it makes a real connection with the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. It’s nice.

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