She wants to go to church with me to spend time with me and attend church somewhere on Sunday while her parents are out of town and she will not be able to drive herself. I may be able to carpool to my church, but I am not sure, so I may be driving her and I to church.
The nearest Oriental churches are Coptic and Syriac. There is a Syriac a little farther from me that I have been to before and it appears there is a Syriac church closer to me that I just discovered (not sure if they will use any English in the sermon and I am not sure if the previous distinction is relevant info for those of you know who that I have had trouble attending my church with the accident and internship and still a little with the accident).
My friend is a Korean American in a contemporary style Presbyterian church and has never set foot in an Orthodox church before. I don't want to completely freak her out. She has seen a Messianic festival with me, thinks that Catholics are like regular Christians with a little more emphasis on Mary.
I would be most comfortable with introducing her to the Armenian church, and that may be possible if I take painkiller. (I am starting to go half of the way through the day without meds before I feel anything.)
Please offer any advice on where we should go and how much I should explain to her.
I might be too late on this, but two weeks ago two of my best friends (who are Catholic) spent the night in my house and came to church with my Mother and I in the morning. My one friend was super eager to attend an Orthodox church for Divine Liturgy, so much so that I thought he almost wanted to convert and also because his Italian grandfather was incredibly domineering and drove his Greek wife into crypto-Orthodoxy and he maybe wanted to relive going to Divine Liturgy with his grandmother in secret all those years ago. My other friend is too lazy to go to church so when a free opportunity was presented that made it as easy as possible to attend some kind of worship service, he was pretty happy to take it.
Anyway, I mucked it all up by taking them to my home-parish, which is Greek speaking. Now this was not a case of "Oh those mean Greeks were rude to them because they were of a different ethnicity and faith." This was a case of them not being able to follow along with the liturgy because even though they had the booklet that has the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostomos split on the page between Koine Greek and Modern English in front of them, they couldn't figure out the pace and kept getting lost. I also did two things wrong: I assumed too much and was too eager. I would whisper to them "if anything confuses you, feel free to ask me what anything means," and the one friend I thought was looking to convert comes from an extremely conservative Catholic family (and is both extremely conservative politically and religiously himself), so he took my whispers as insults to the liturgy at-hand because I was talking during church. I also assumed that I had gone through the run-down with them about rules for non-Orthodox attendees. Previously, I had taken our fourth best friend with me to Divine Liturgy one time (and in my pride I decided to sing with the cantors because I wanted to show him that I was studying to become a cantor instead of being a good friend and being there next to him and answering his questions) and I had told him everything he needed to know beforehand, so he knew facts about the Liturgy and that he could not take Holy Communion, but could take antidoro. So when my friends were preparing for communion and I whispered, "uh guys, what are you doing? We don't have walk-up blessings like you lot do," they said, "What do you mean what are we doing, we're getting ready for communion of course."
Well, needless to say, then it go awkward. The one friend who I thought to be a candidate for conversion got automatically offended and whispered to me, "but we're the same..." and from them on in changed his demeanour completely. Both of them had adopted our way of crossing themselves and would do anything that I and the rest of the congregation would do, like cross when the Theotokos was mentioned, bow when the priests bowed to us, said the Creed and the Our Father in English and in what little they could remember of both from their high school Archaic Greek class (they were taught bits of Liturgical Greek by their teachers, I'm not just confusing the two evolutions of the Greek language), etc. When communion was off the table, the former started muttering about now he'd have to go to church at night because his Sunday obligation wasn't fulfilled and he stopped doing everything that the congregation was doing. He even was reluctant to take antidoro after that and asked me, "do we have
to?" My other friend sat down non-belligerently and confusedly, but still continued to show respect and would make the sign of the cross when the rest of us did and whatnot. My former friend also got really catty because he didn't like the laidback attitude of the older congregation who would strike up smalltalk whilst the priest was preparing his notes for the sermon, and he expected absolute silence during transitions like this one. He also didn't know that we don't make up some arbitrary number for the age of receiving communion, so he was shocked when some lapsed parents brought their kids from a mnemosyno service and let their kids treat the Body of Christ like a communion piece of bread and he watched them drool all over it, pig out on it, and let the crumbs get all over in complete shock and horror. To be fair, I
was also in complete shock and horror, but we're only 19, what do we know about kids?
When we got back home so the two could start packing to go home, my incredibly American and Irish-Catholic Father met the two outside when he pulled up from work and struck up a conversation with us. Now he asked them how church was, an innocent enough question. Only he's one of those people that thinks Christianity = Novus Ordo Catholicism and all those other Protestant fellows, and he sees Orthodoxy as a novelty, so the question in my opinion wasn't as innocent as he made it out to be because he was already starting to laugh before they even began to speak. The one friend who is definitely not looking into converting said, "It was nice, but typical Latin Catholicism is good enough for me!" I was heartbroken.
Both of them went on to later explain how they don't get why they couldn't get
So, my tips for you are:
1. Don't expect anything from this journey you're about to embark on (or have embarked on and my opinions are now rendered useless). You're not the one who will continue your friend on her life's journey through life, Christ is.
2. Make sure you prepare her as best as you can and explain that all Orthodox Christians practice communion for the faithful only.
3. Do not be afraid to be redundant. You cannot over explain anything.
4. If your friend draws unfair opinions about Orthodox Christianity, don't be surprised, but be polite and try to hint that quite possibly she's wrong and possibly being a bit western-centric.