Ah, yes, us Anglicans and Episcopalians and whatever we’re calling ourselves this week, we’ve sure got us some troubles.
Our Russian Orthodox bretheren and sistren, though… Oy gevalt.
In broad strokes (many apologies if I bunged it up), here’s the deal: during the Communist rule of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox church split out of neccessity. Bishops, priests, and monastics who fled set up the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), which was decidedly anti-communist. The Russian Orthodox Church within Russia was held in derision by many in ROCOR for cooperating with Communist leaders.
Decades passed, and the two groups grew apart ideologically. Like most refugee populations attempting to maintain their cultural identity, ROCOR tended towards the more conservative. And it doesn’t help that the Moscow Patriarchy refused to recognize ROCOR as the Orthodox Church in America, instead starting their own group, the, uh, Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
But communisim fell, religious freedoms were returned to the Russian people, and along about 2003 groups from ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchy started talking about possibly maybe reuniting.
Guess what’s going down on Ascension Day? Durn tootin’, they’re reuniting, which is cause for celebration in lots of places.
And in other places? Not so much. So much not so much that people are spreading rumors that Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow is dead.
Patriarch Alexy’s a wee bit cranky about that, as you can imagine.
As the days tick down, people are angry, people are upset, people are hurt, people are facing leaving the churches they and their ancestors built from the ground up, the faith they converted to, becoming disillusioned with the clergy and church leadership.
Sounds familiar, nu?
Prayers go out for those who are anxious, excited, hurting, joyful, angry, and just plain confused.