Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Visit #180 ~ First a funeral, then Vespers!

at the memorial service of Seymour Levin
May his memory be eternal!
A friend of mine passed away last week. His name was Seymour Levin, an ordained deacon in the Church of the Nazarene.  He was a faithful servant of God and has a great testimony of being converted to Christ while in prison. He converted despite being raised Jewish. (As you can see from the pic above, he still had Judaism had a place in his heart)   I went to his memorial service last Saturday....well I tried to, anyway.  You see, I was so exhausted from work that I feel asleep at 3pm and didn't wake up till 5:15pm, thus by the time I got to the service, it was time for the last hymn.  The place was packed and, even though, I missed the service, I was able to join the receiving line and condole with his widow.  They had a light supper downstairs afterwards. I stayed a little bit and then made my way to Vespers.

My life has been a bit crazy lately and I haven't been able to get Sunday's off for Church so, thankfully, I attended Vespers last Saturday. It was great to be back in Vespers which is my "introductory" service into Orthodoxy.  I do love Vespers but when given the choice of the DL or Vespers, I of course, have to opt for the DL, which is why I haven't been to a regular Vesper's Service (not counting Holy Week or Pre-Sanctified) since February 3rd. (Read about it here.) But Vespers holds a special place in my heart.

I lit two candles as Fr. Deacon Alexander led in prayers.  One for my family and one for the newly-reposed Seymour Levin.  Fr. Gary spoke about St. Jacob of Alaska and the importance of missions.  You can read more about him here.

St. Jacob, pray for us!

It was good to be back at Vespers. Hopefully, I can attend the Divine Liturgy this Sunday, if I can get someone to take my shift at work.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visit #179 ~ Being Uplifted by the Faithful!

Marko, smoking a Cuban 
(Don't worry; he was in Canada at the time so it was legal)
I was in a bit of a funk when I entered into the Nave on Sunday morning.  You see, I was still reeling from an argument I had with a close family member on (of all things) the issue of the SCOTUS ruling on Same-sex marriage.  It got very personal and things could have come to a permanent break, but, it didn't, thank God. What helped me focus in what was good about the world was being with the people of God.  I was especially helped by the cheerful, friendly disposition of Marko.  He entered into the Nave with his wife Amanda and in between venerating Icons, he'd greet people, sometimes with a smile, most times with a hug.  How can anyone remain down when they see joy like that walking around?

Another blessing is having Tiffany and Andrew with their baby Payton stand next to me during the Liturgy.  At one point, Andrew let me hold Payton and, of course, she tried to grab my glasses.  I am not a "baby" person. Indeed, when I first became a father, my wife was worried that I wouldn't bond well with my children because I never liked to hold babies, but Payton, in my view, is such a cute and beautiful baby!  (Just so you know, I did like my own kids, even when they were babies.)  Tiffany gave me a Divine  Liturgy Service book that belonged to her father Jim.  I started to tear up when I received the book. Next week, I'll bring it with me to service. It will take some figuring out on how to navigate through it so as to follow the service.  The book has English on the left side and Church Slavonic (& Serbian) on the right side.

The Service book belonging to Jim

Speaking of Jim Martin, he was honored today (along with some other people) at his former Protestant parish. Right after Divine Liturgy, I rushed out of there so I could attend the Protestant Service with my wife.  (Yes, I hated missing the coffee hour and fellowshiping  with the Faithful but I am glad to be sitting next to my wife in church.)  The Nazarene denomination has what is called a Memorial Roll where you pay a certain amount of money and the name of deceased loved one is put on a plaque. (Sounds like selling indulgences to me....just joking :) )The money is used to help missionary's health care.  There was a four or five people being remembered, along with Jim and Pastor Del said some nice things about each of the loved ones.  Below is what he said about Jim. It begins with Pastor Del talking about a lady who, before she passed, said she was ready to meet God. The whole thing runs for about one minute:

No doubt the peace that Jim had in his life at the time that Pastor Del mentions, is due to the fact that he was now a faithful communicant within the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church.  Jim found the peace he was looking for by being united with Christ in His Church!  Glory to God! 

The Divine Liturgy that morning was refreshing! Fr Gary had returned from vacation. Now that he is back, I'll see about setting up an appointment with him to discuss fasting (and other issues.) My daughter gets married in two weeks so it'll have to be after that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Visit 178 ~ Visiting Priests and on-going Improvements

The Nave look a little bit like a Construction Zone as we added new Icons

The Divine Liturgy was great, as usual.  One thing  I love about the Divine Liturgy is that, even though it is always at least an hour and half, it can "fly by" time-wise, if I pay attention and realize what is taking place.  By heeding the advice of Let us attend throughout the whole service, I find meaning in all that is going on and, thus, I am not "bored" even though basically the same thing happens every week.  I cannot say the same thing for some protestant services I attend.

Fr Gary is still on Vacation so we had a visiting priest, Fr. Volodomyr Chaikivsky who led us in Worship. His accent was very thick and during his very short homily (full of good content,) I couldn't get the notion out of my head that Vladimir Putin was talking to me.  Sorry about that.  I did manage to ignore the accent long enough to really listen, though.  Fr. Volodomry commented on how we are to seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.  Great advice no matter what the accent.

A video posted by 15 Second Orthodoxy (@15secondorthodoxy) on
We are adding new icons and, as you can see from the short video above, it means the Nave looks a little like a construction zone.  I do know when it is all said and done that the resulting new Icons will be a blessing to behold.  In fact, at the end of the service, Deacon Alexander said, during the announcement time, that we have a reputation within the diocese as having the most beautiful Icons around.  That's kinda nice.

Sunday was Father's day. I was happy to be in the Service for Father's day and I was also happy that, later on, my wife and I went to see the 40th anniversary showing of JAWS! Best film ever!!!

It was a good day!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Visit #177 ~ The Synaxis of All Saints

I loved the homily today by Fr Gary about All Saints! He mentioned the reading from Hebrews which talked about how we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. As soon as he said that I glanced around and saw how, on the walls, there were indeed witnesses for us who were praying for us and rooting us on!

Coffee hour was very good. I caught up with Marko, Amanda and spoke with Tami for a bit.  They had a meeting for the Ethnic Fair towards the end of the coffee hour so, since I was not on any of the committees, I absented myself.  Later on that afternoon I had to take my wife to a "surprise party" in her honor because she just completed an intense phlebotomy course and all of her friends wanted to celebrate with her. Sadly, I did a horrible job of louring her into the place she had to do and ended up telling her she had to come with me because it was  a surprise party for her.  We all had a good time and I ended up taking a video of my friend's dog which, for fun, is right here:
A video posted by Jim Vivanco (@nawanda60) on

At Coffee hour, we talked a bit about the Apostle's Fast. I, myself, do not really fast but maybe I should consider adapting the practice, watcha think?

See you next time.

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!