“Axios!” The Bishop proclaims in a strong, authoritative voice. “Axios!” We respond in loud unison.
“Worthy!” He proclaims and again we repeat after him – this time the word in English “Worthy!”
We are witnessing our friend John’s ordination as a Deacon of the Bulgarian Diocese in the Orthodox Church. It has been a beautiful morning. The choir is at their best, the church is full, the Bishop is leading the service, even the saints who look most severe in the icons surrounding the sanctuary seem to be smiling, fully a part of this solemn yet celebratory event.
Suddenly I feel my cheeks wet with tears. “Axios!” “Worthy!” These words are proclaimed over this man affirming his service within the Church. The last time I heard these words were at my own baptism several months ago, when on receiving the oil of Chrismation “Axios” was proclaimed.
The tears come from deep within my soul. I am overwhelmed by the thought that God looks on us and proclaims “Axios!” Says that we are “Worthy!”
My cheeks are wet because this “Axios” took all that Christ could give, his body broken, his blood shed. I am worthy only because of this great sacrifice, the mystery of the Church.
This journey of faith comes with many ups and downs; with much failure and doubt. There are so many times when I try to do it on my own, only to fall flat and beg for help getting up. But days like this, surrounded by the gold and burgundy of icons, listening to the harmonious hymns that have been sung through the decades, I am humbled and strengthened by that one word proclaiming “Worthy!” Everything changes with one word.
It is a small taste of Heaven where we who now see so poorly, where we whose vision of the eternal is cloudy at best, see face to face and God himself proclaims us worthy. Until then I drink in the word “Axios” “Worthy” like a woman dying of thirst. I drink deeply and as I do my parched soul is revived.
Blogger’s Note: The Reluctant Orthodox ended and the Resilient Orthodox has begun! Join me for occasional glimpses into my ongoing journey in the Orthodox Church. Posts will usually be on a Sunday and, unlike Orthodox services, will rarely be lengthy!