Prayers from the East: Traditions of Eastern Christianity

Prayers from the East: Traditions of Eastern Christianity

Prayers from the East: Traditions of Eastern Christianity

Prayers from the East: Traditions of Eastern Christianity

Synopsis

This rich anthology offers new insight into an ancient form of Christianity still little understood in the West. An introduction to the rich diversity of the six "Ancient and Oriental Orthodox" churches - Egyptian Copts, Armenians, Syrians, Indian Malankara, Ethiopian, and Eritrean - through their distinctive tradition of prayer and worship, it provides both a survey of the history and theology of these Eastern Orthodox traditions as well as an anthology of their personal prayers, blessings, and liturgical prayers. The collection highlights the distinctiveness of Eastern Christian spirituality along with its connections to Western theology and worship.

Excerpt

Beginnings

When I went to work on the ecumenical staff of the Archbishop of Canterbury ten years ago now, the first thing to confront me was the filing system. It made up nearly a whole wall of the general office. For ease of identification, churches were colour coded - the Orthodox Churches were grey, the Lutheran and Reformed yellow and 1 forget now the colour of the Roman Catholic ones. But towards the beginning of this ancient and venerable filing collection was a run of orange files whose prefixes were AOC. I remember asking my equally ancient and venerable secretary what AOC stood for, only to be told, with a predictable look of disdain at my palpable ignorance, that it stood for Ancient and Oriental Churches.

I can recall withdrawing the files with a sense of great fascination. The files spoke of wondrous and romantic places with names heavy with resonance: Syria, Egypt, Armenia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and India. This was the stuff of dreams, but in my hands there was more than fantasy. For these were real places with living Christian traditions, but from an office in grey and wet London they seemed very exotic indeed.

In the course of the next few years I visited each one of these Ancient and Oriental Orthodox Churches in their homelands. I got to know their church leaders and their people. I got to know them as living entities with history, hopes and fears. I also got to know their communities in London and will always be profoundly grateful for their kindness and hospitality. The more I spent time working and praying with these churches the more I began to realize that they each had traditions of liturgy and prayer that were unique and particularly rich. The texts in . . .

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