For the youthfully challenged, there was a time when the Kodak company ruled the world of photography. Cameras used something called film which captured the image and then had to be developed by a professional or by mailing it in to the company. The company was so dominant that the phrase “a Kodak moment” entered into the social lexicon. I still hear it used now and then but it is becoming a bit old fashioned. Still, a Kodak moment is a special moment that should be remembered and memorialized – things like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc.
Kodak may no longer exist, but with cell phones and digital cameras, we continue to memorialize the important moments in life. Now, instead of cabinets filled with pictures we rarely look at, we now have computers and memory sticks loaded with pictures; and again, we rarely look at them. We even have the Cloud and websites that will keep our pictures for us. Funny, but I don’t think I’ve been in the Cloud for a long time.
We all have people and events that we hope we will never forget, and we hope people won’t forget us. Even after someone leaves us in death, we try to remember their birthdays and anniversaries and the other meaningful times we shared together. We do this because of love and we are grateful for what these people meant to us and what they gave to us. They really made a difference in our lives.
The Orthodox have Kodak moments. We take pictures when there is a baptism, wedding, or some special congregational or church event. You can find pictures of these pasted all over the social media. For our church life, there are some moments that are most important. We call these moments feast days. We remember the Kodak moments in the life of our Lord Jesus. You may be familiar with the two big ones – Nativity and Pascha, but there are many others like Ascension, the Lord’s baptism, Transfiguration, the raising of Lazarus, and so on.
Many churches study these events, but few celebrate them. Why do we make such a big deal about not only remembering these events, but celebrating them? Simply, Jesus was God incarnate, and this truth alone means that every thing he did or said matters-everything! Every event should be remembered, celebrated, and contemplated because it changes us and challenges us. Every moment of his life was a Kodak moment. So, how should we go about celebrating the Lord’s Kodak moments?
The Orthodox join together in Church to chant the Vigil and celebrate the Eucharist. We hear the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testament chanted, and we are confronted with the truth and glory of the event. One of the great fears of the Old Testament is forgetfulness of God. “Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” -Deuteronomy 6:12 Given the demands and distractions of the modern world, we need these Kodak moments, or we will practically forget God.
There is no other place for an Orthodox Christian to be when these Kodak moments occur than in Church. When we unnecessarily absent ourselves, we are saying that these moments don’t really matter much. It would be like having our mother celebrate her 100th birthday and we don’t show up because something else had a greater priority. Can you imagine such a thing? And yet, Feast after Feast, the Orthodox are absent from Church. While legitimate hindrances can rise up from time to time, some have made non-attendance a habit and a lifestyle. Of course it is considered to be rude or judgmental to point it out.
I suppose that all I can do is end with the words of the Lord: “That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which hath sent him.” -John 5:23
Forgive us, Father, for the lack of honor that we show to You and to your Son. We truly don’t know what we are doing. Lord, have mercy on us.