....that he will send forth labourers into the harvest (Matthew 9: 38).
I note two things: first that it is for us to pray God to send labourers into the harvest, with the inference that unless we do, i.e. unless we positively want the harvest to be gathered, God is not going to act. Second, that the original Greek word to ‘send out’ (ἐκβάλῃ) is pretty strong, literally ‘throw out’, the same word as is used for casting out devils. i.e. if we ask God to, He will take pretty strong action.
All of which begs the question why we do not, at least not in my church community, pray God to send out labourers into the harvest. I suggest two basic reasons:
1) We are comfortable as we are. The way we do things and our core group of about twenty with another thirty or so loosely around it, whom we meet most Sundays provide an adequate does of spiritual and human comfort. Catechumens, especially in any quantity, are messy. Like awkward adolescents they demand a lot of time, and spoil the peace. And God save us from the Orthodox neophyte who has just ‘fallen in love’ with a ‘staretz’, follows him blindly, obeying every injunction, and loudly expects all the rest of us to do the same.
2) Yes, we believe in the Christian gospel: we believe that we live better for our faith and that the Christian faith could provide the same from those around us. But it has been a fight, in particular we have banged and bruised our heads on the structure: avoiding becoming ‘pew fodder’, questioning, and at times going against the official (sexual) morality and rules (confession, diet…), learning new ‘languages’ (King James English, Old Church Slavonic, Church Greek) and social codes. Did it really have to take fifty years for me to be where I am now?
Do I really want to drag my best friend through all this? Not really.