Monday, May 25, 2015

Visit #176 ~ Lighting Candles for the Newly Baptized and Illumined

A candle and a prayer for Payton Faith
I went to the Divine Liturgy yesterday and, of course, it was good to be there.  But a part of me wishes I was at a different parish that day where Payton Faith Campbell was being baptized!  I was unable to attend Andrew and Tiffany's daughter's baptism (because their parish is so far away and because of my work schedule) so, instead, I said a prayer and lit a candle for the newly baptized and illumined Payton Faith! I took a picture of the gold lamp stand where I lit the candle at the beginning of the service. This pic was snapped while I waited in line at the end of the service to venerate the Cross.

A small group of people were absent from the DL today because they were able to attend Payton Faith's baptism.  Marko, who is the godfather, is pictured below. I had asked him (via facebook) if he spit on the devil on Payton's behalf. He said, "I renounced the devil thrice" because, in Orthodoxy, if something is good enough to do one time, it's good enough to do three times! 
the godparents! 

The proud parents!
So, God bless Payton Faith Campbell!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Visit #175 ~ Thinking about St. Photini and Living Water!

"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again...."
I just did a quick google search and asked "What is the name of the Woman at the Well in the Bible?" The first sites that came up were all Protestant and they said, "Well, she isn't named." How wonderful it is that, in the Orthodox Church, her name was preserved and passed down from generation to generation. How sad that the Protestants divorce themselves from Holy Tradition and, thus, unknowingly, find themselves impoverished!

St. Photini, the Woman a the Well, was the focus of the Service today.  Fr. Gary gave a great homily talking about how Jesus broke all the social norms and, seemingly without judging or condemning her, drew her unto Himself, proclaiming to her that He was, indeed, the Messiah! He offered living water to her noting that the water she was drawing from the well would only leave her thirsty again but the water the He'd offer would satisfy forever!

St. Photini, who was despised in her own town as a loose woman - that would explain why she drew water in the heat of the day when no one else was around - nevertheless ran into town and proclaimed Jesus as Messiah. The whole town came to see for themselves and became convinced, not because of the testimony of St. Photini but because they heard Jesus for themselves!

Coffee hour was really enjoyable. I had a nice talk with Reader Innocent (Jack.) He is a quiet man with a lot of depth (and a wicked sense of humor, wicked in the good sense :) ) We also celebrated the ever-gracious Tami's Birthday! I, of course, ate a piece of cake in her honor!

Happy Birthday, Tami
It was such a blessing to be in Liturgy this week. I was unable to attend last week so it is good to be back! May be all partake of the Living Waters that Christ has to offer!

St. Photini, pray for us!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Visit # 174 ~ Myrrh Bearing Women and Twirling Children!

In our Nave this Sunday
Yesterday was the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing woman. I always thought it cool that Jesus first revealed Himself (after He was Risen) to women, who were considered second class citizens.  Leave it to Jesus to break the mold and change our thinking!  Once a month, Fr. Gary does a youth homily where he invites all the children to come near the front (each having a rug to sit on) and he preaches his homily mostly to them. But, we get to listen in. Of course, he preached about the Myrrh-bearing women and talked about how sometimes we label people but these Myrrh-bearing women were more than just that; they were individual people as well. Just like us, whatever label we may have, we are ourselves as well and more than just a label. A good message to both kids and adults alike.

The little girl twirled, just like this!
photo by Julie Campbell, used under the creative commons license
check out more photos here:

Speaking of kids, a young couple with a very antsy toddler came in late and the man standing next to me saw they were just standing in the doorway and needed a seat so he moved to the other side of the nave and directed them to now empty seats next to me.  The little girl was adorable and immediately started spinning around in place so that her mom had to say, "No twirling now."  The girl ended up crashing (harmlessly) into the chair behind her and that brought lots of suppressed laughter from all of us! During the recitation of the Creed, the girl was in her father's arms and all of a sudden the Church bells start ringing. The girl looked up in wonder, pointing and you could tell by her expression that she thought the bells were the coolest thing around!  When the bells stopped there was a short moment of complete silence, only to be broken by the little girl saying "bye-bye" to the bells. It was extremely cute.

When people were receiving the Holy Mysteries, they would, of course, take some "fellowship" bread as well.  Matushka Mary came to the back and offered me one (which I took). She then bent down to offer one to the little girl. Well, there were three in Matushka's Hand so she took all three!  It was very funny.  The father remarked to me that she guessed her daughter wouldn't be needing to eat lunch later.

It was a blessed day, worshiping God and seeing the image of Christ in all of His children, even His youngest ones.  Seeing the wonder and innocence of this child reminded me that I should have the same attitude when approaching the Lord.  May we all be reminded of that!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Visit #173 ~ Time Sure Flies when You're Worshiping the Trinity!

It's two hours for a Divine Liturgy and, yet, I feel as if no time has gone at all.  No offense to my protestant pastor or their worship service but when I attend their services, I am always looking at the clock, quite frankly, bored by the songs. The Sermon, however, does keep my attention.

But as far as Divine Liturgy goes, I feel immersed in the Hymns, Prayers and Psalms.  I admit I do get tired of standing (Darn that arthritis!) but I find myself sensing that no time is passing by at all. It is the way Church is supposed to be and that is exactly what I experienced at Divine Liturgy last Sunday!

I only got four hours of sleep the night before because I wanted to attend Vespers since, in the Orthodoxy world, Saturday night is really Sunday and going to Vespers should properly be thought as part one of the DL.  I did find by arranging my life so that I could do both Saturday night and Sunday morning did help me more easily participate in Worship.

Coffee hour was great. Besides talking to the 'regulars' (Markos, Amanda, Tami, John, etc.) I met a young man named Christian who will be received into the Church on Pentecost. He is from Roman Catholic background (a real lover of the Latin Mass) and even attended RC Seminary for a semester.  We had a good time talking and I told him I would make sure I cleared my calendar so I could watch him be received into the Church which, he said, will take place at Vespers before Pentecost.

Thanks for reading! See you next time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Visit #172 ~ Bright Week is So Bright that I gotta wear Shades!

Christ is Risen, yo!
photo by Brian Talbot, used under the creative commons license.
see more of his photos at:
For Bright Week, we had services on Monday but I couldn't attend because I needed to help my wife study for her final test in her Phlebotomy course (She got 98%, by the way!) so I didn't get to attend any services during Bright Week until Saturday...and, boy, am I glad I did! I hadn't been to a Saturday night Vespers in a while and it was great to hear (and pray) the familiar hymns and Psalms.

I left my home early so I could arrive early and say a prayer (and light a candle) for a friend of mine who requested prayer.  I know that some people arrive to liturgy a little late but still light their candles during litanies. You know, how I have always been uncomfortable doing that. I'd feel like everyone is watching me and I'd feel like I am "interrupting" Fr. Gary lead us in pray. I know I shouldn't be so self-conscience but I am. Well, there was a huge traffic jam on the way to Church and it turns out that, instead of arriving early (so I can light my candle), I arrive on time.  What to do?  I decided "To heck with it, I'll light my candle anyway." (I said heck instead of hell because this blog is rated G. ☺) I waited for Fr. Gary to start his second set of litanies and I walked quietly up the side of the Nave, lit my candle and said a prayer for my friend.  Guess what? No body stared at me! And even if they did, I didn't pay any attention.  My friend said they needed prayer so that overrode any apprehensions I may have had.  The Kingdom of God is about helping each other, right?

photo by Scott Gunn, 
used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos here:

It was great to be at Vespers again. Yes, I love Divine Liturgy and am glad I have been going on Sundays but Vespers will always hold a special place in my heart. It is where I first encountered Orthodox Worship! I had to take a nap when I got home from work Saturday but it was worth it. Guess what! I also attended the Divine Liturgy the next day, even though I would only get four hours of sleep that night. You see, when I go to DL's, I have to go to work first from 3am till 7am. Then someone covers the rest of my shift so I could leave early and go to DL.  I have always been told that you should go to Vespers Saturday night and Divine Liturgy the next day because "it's all connected." I'll blog about that next time.

Until then, Christ is Risen! And, remember, even if Bright week is over, the future is still bright!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Visit # 171 ~ The Feast of Feasts

The Candle Stand in our Church, ready to be lit for Pascha
photo by Fr. Gary J. Breton

I know I get very chatty on this blog but I really can't put into words how the Pascha Vigil moved me. Yes, there were times I was tired of standing and, yest, my all-too-easily-distracted mind needed reigning in at times but, on the whole, the entire experience of Pascha was beyond words. All I can say is:

Christ is Risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tomb bestowing life!

Because I didn't work the next day, I stayed for the Pascha Agape Feast where all the faithful partook of foods they had been abstaining from.  I had a really good time.  

Here is a video, part of our procession around the Church.

Lots of good eats at three in the morning!

Christ is Risen!
Truly, He is Risen!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Visit #170 ~My Pastor came to Church!

Pastor Del Bieber
Church of the Nazarene

Pastor Del Bieber (no relation to you-know-who) came to Church on Great and Holy Friday Matins with Lamentations which we celebrated at 7pm.  I had been meaning to invite him for years, ever since he learned that I was a big fan of Vespers :). I asked Tami via email earlier on in the week which service on Friday would be better. She recommended the evening one because the procession with the Shroud is pretty impressive.

On the drive to Church, I asked Pastor Del if he had ever been at an Orthodox Church. He said once for a funeral and about half of the service was in English. I told him how, when I was looking for an Orthodox Church that I bypassed the much closer Greek Church because most of the liturgy was not in English.  At my parish it is completely English, except for some Lord have Mercy's in Greek and Slavonic. I told him when we got to Church that he shouldn't do anything he wasn't comfortable doing, like prostrations, ect.

Pastor Del has been my Pastor for twenty years (give or take) and he is a man who takes his walk with Christ very seriously and someone who is concerned about the lack of holiness with Christendom today.  He believes that Christians should not emphasize their differences but rather how they have Christ in common. It is for this reason that he has been a very good example for me in following Christ. I was honored that he should come to Church with me.

I had purchased a service book earlier that day so we could follow along. I wanted to buy another one so that we both could have one but they ran out. We ended up sharing.  Pastor Del paid very close attention to what was going on and sang along on the hymns. Later he told me how much he thought the hymns and multitude of Scripture within the Service was a perfect teaching tool for the laity.  As we sang, he pointed to one of the hymns in the book and quietly asked me, "I know who Mary is but who is this Theotokos?"I explained that Mary is the God-bearer. He remarked how he should have remembered the Greek.

It was pretty impressive how we processed around the Church, as the teens rang the Church bells.  Later on, he told me that one hymn he really liked was the "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One," I had to agree with him. What's not to love about the Trisagion?

At the end of the service, I knew it would take a long time for everyone to venerate the Shroud so Tami suggested I got with her husband Reader John to venerate and then quietly slip out.  (Reader John is one of the first to venerate since his is an honored position in the Church.) I did the triple prostrations with John and then grabbed Pastor Del and headed to the car.

On the car ride home, he told me everything he liked about the service.  He joked that Fr. Gary got off easy because all he seemed to do is chant "Wisdom" and the choir did the rest of the work. I chuckled and then said Fr. Gary didn't have it that easy and I told him about the number of services that had to be done during lent and especially Holy Week.  Fr. Gary will be one tired priest by the end of next week! Pastor Del said he was going to ask me something during the service but didn't want to make me laugh. You see, he wanted to know "What is it with Pokemon and the Service?" I laughed. I then explained that prokeimenon is a Psalm that is said before the readings.
That's my bald head on the right. Pastor Del is on my right so you can't see him
Picture taken by Tiffany Martin
On the car ride home we both chatted about Jim Martin's journey to Orthodoxy and I explained how my blog introduced Jim to the Parish.  I knew it was the Holy Spirit who had led Jim to Orthodoxy and Pastor Del said he had spoken with Jim two weeks before he passed away.  Jim was driving by and passed his old church and decided to stop and chat for a while. Pastor noticed, in his conversation, that Jim had really grown in Christ since becoming Orthodox! Glory be to Jesus Christ!

As I dropped Pastor Del at his house, I told him to keep the service book. Wouldn't it be great if in his worship service, he introduced the Trisagion Hymn? I doubt his congregation would go for it but a person can dream, can't he?

Well let me sign off now. I have to get some sleep before I go to the Feasts of Feasts!