Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Visit #193 - Getting Fed from the Divine Liturgy

So I didn't get a chance to post about my last visit - I've been busy - so I'll do it quickly while I'm at work using my mobile device short, I was fed spiritually last Sunday and was glad I went to Church. It was better that an IHOP breakfast (pictured above)

That about says it all!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Visit #192 ~ Thinking about Water and God's Call

Fountain of Holy Water
It was great to be in Liturgy and think about water. How could I not? There was a big fountain of Holy Water in the front by the Ambo and a table with cups for consumption.  I heard a sermon on Ancient Faith Radio on how Holy Water isn't magical but rather, restored to what it was before the fall of the Cosmos.  I have heard stories on how Holy Water kept in bottles for years did not "go bad."  It seems the Incarnation has great implications for the universe. By Christ entering into the waters of Jordan to receive Baptism, He sanctified the waters!

Holy Water to Drink!

Fr. Gary's Homily was especially insightful.  He talked about the call of God and then gave examples from Sacred Scripture on how some did not, at first, embrace this call.  Moses tried to talk God into choosing someone else and Jonah just plain  ran away! Yet, even though we are unworthy, God calls us anyway.

"If you are looking on God's calling as something you are unworthy of, then you are thinking of it the right way"   -Fr Gary, Homily of January 10, 2016
 God, in his mercy, uses us! May we be ever ready to serve Him as He desires!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Visit #191 - Surprise at Vespers!

Vespers Selfie!
So what was the surprise at Vespers? The surprise was I was there! Normally, at the time of Vespers was going on, I'd be at work but, through a series of unfortunate events, I could not go to work last evening. Basically, the night before I had a flat tire at work with no spare (I feel so silly) and I had to get towed home. (Thank God for AAA.) But I ended up getting home at 4am so when I woke up the next day to go to work, I felt horrible and really couldn't function on such little sleep.  So I called out sick.

The end of a long night!

But as the day wore on, I felt a little better and then I started thinking about how my protestant parish used to have "watch-night services" on New Year's eve but no longer does. Wait a minute! Doesn't my local Orthodox Church have something going on? So, I checked my calendar and, yes, a Vespers with Litya!  

So I went and was so happy to be back at Vespers. We were a small group but, to me, we sounded wonderful as we sang the hymns and Psalms, celebrating both the Circumcision of our Lord and the Life of St. Basil. 

I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year and hope that we all grow closer to Christ!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Visit #190 ~ Late for Church but for a Good Reason!

The Christmas Tree in the Narthex
Liturgy was great, even if I did arrive ten minutes late...but more on that later.  I've been thinking lately on how Liturgy is not just a preparation for the future kingdom, but also a participation in it.  Yes, I believe that in Heaven we will be worshiping God and certainly the Psalms and Divine Hymns are but a foreshadow of what we will be doing. But, won't we be singing the actual trisagion Hymn in heaven? Why not get used to being in worship now? It gives me joy to know that the hymns and Psalms we are singing now, will also be sung in the coming Kingdom.

 Yet, attending Divine Liturgy IS a participation in the Kingdom. We sing the Psalms, along with the Saints and bodiless Powers.  One of my favorite parts of the Liturgy is the chanting of the Prokeimenon which is just the Psalms, really.  Below is a sample of Reader Tim chanting the Prokeimenon before the Epistle reading.

I enjoyed the whole liturgy. I was happy that I remembered to bring my service book so I wouldn't have to use the ones sitting in the Narthex.  I now have to figure out how to use the book more effectively. It has additional prayers in the back that coincide with the festal days and I have to learn how to flip back and forth so I can follow along better.  Sadly, because I had to go right to work, I could not stay for Coffee hour.  I told this to Tami as I was leaving and she gave me a warm greeting and blessing for a good day.

As I said, I was ten minutes late but that is because my wife woke up with a migraine headache and, besides strong aspirin, one thing that helps her in these times, is a massage, which I gave her. When I was almost at liturgy, she called me and thanked me for "ministering to her." I said, no problem and remembered how marriage is a means to Salvation. It would have been wrong for me to abandon her in her time of need. As you know, both the Priest and the Levite, walked passed the man laying on the side of the road. They would not help him because they were "rushing to church," i.e., the temple in Jerusalem. It was the Samaritan who turned out to be the good guy.

The good guy, that's what I want to be!

Christ is Born; Let us glorify Him!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Visit 189 ~ Back to Liturgy!

Good to be back to Liturgy!
photo by Christopher Sessums, used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos here:
Here is a link to the original photo:

Divine Liturgy last Sunday was, well, Divine! It's been a two weeks since my last liturgy because of things I had going on. I did, however, attend my protestant parish but it was really good to be back to liturgy. This is the second time I forgot to bring my Divine Liturgy book from home but I was able to follow along pretty well just by paying attention.

Do you ever find yourself thinking that the homily was especially good and then, days later, you cannot recall what it was about? Well, that is where I find myself now. Here it is Wednesday and I remember thinking the homily was good and beneficial and, now, I cannot remember the content. Annoying, eh?  I guess that is why we need to constantly be in attendance at Church, because we are a forgetful people.

One thing I do remember clearly is at the end of the service when the Faithful sometimes bring me the bread of fellowship (I know there is another name for it but I can't remember), someone handed one piece to Joanne who was standing next to me. She only had one piece and that person knew Joanne and didn't know me so that makes sense, right? Well, Joanne Immediately broke that little piece in half and gave me one. That is cool, eh?  I mean, I love the idea on how we are all in this together and it's always a good thing to be on the lookout on how to share with other people.  I/m glad Joanne did; it was inspiriing.

We are in the midst of a food drive, initiated by the Tuesday night Discussion group. As you can see from the picture below, they have collected a lot of food for the needy. I have a bag at home now and hope to fill it and bring it next week.

Until next time, have a blessed Nativity Fast!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Protestant Parish

As I  said in my last post, I am grateful that I now have Sunday mornings off of work. Thus, I will be able to attend Divine Liturgy more often. I shall be splitting my time between DL and going to my protestant parish with my wife. Above is a short clip of the service of my Protestant parish.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Visit # 188~ Gotta Love those Grandmas AND Sharing some Great News!

the little booklet I used since I forgot my book
 Praise the Lord, if you'll allow this very Evangelical phrase! :) I have some great news. I know some of you have been praying for me that I'd be able to attend Liturgy on Sundays. Well, it turns out my schedule changed and I was able to switch to working evenings (from 2pm till 1030pm.) This means that even though I work on Sundays, I'll be able to go to Church in the morning. It'll be a joy to attend Liturgy on a consistent basis! Thank you for all your prayers! I guess this means they'll be more blog posts, since I blog about every visit to Divine Service. What is also great is I'll be on the same work schedule as my wife so we'll actually be seeing more of each other.

I really enjoyed liturgy last Sunday. It was the celebration of  Afterfeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple. As I walked into the Narthex, I realized I had forgotten my Divine Liturgy Book that I had purchased back in October. (You can read about that here.) So I had to content myself with the little booklets they provided which you are supposed to return at the end of the Service. I wonder if any one "steals" them?  I have to remember for next time to bring my book.

During the Liturgy, I saw something very touching.  A new mother walked into the Nave with her baby, towing behind her, her toddler son. She came in late which, of course, is understandable, given the challenges that babies present.  Well, as soon as the woman came in with her two children, the grandmother of the children, who was armed with candles and who seemed to be waiting for them, grabbed the hand of the toddler and escorted him to the candle stand. The boy was too short to reach the candle stand so he had to step up on the stand on the same level that the Iconostastis was on. ( I don't know what that is called...can someone tell me?) Well, what boy doesn't like to play with fire. He happily lit the candle and the grandma returned him to his mother.  I thought, how great are grandma's! What  a fortunate boy he is. Not only does he have a mother and father who take him to Church, but he has a faithful grandma to help him in his faith.

Also, during the service, I noticed a mom with his son. He seemed to be around 12 years old. They seemed to be a bit lost in the service but one of the faithful, who obviously knew them, gave them a service book turned to the right page so they could follow along. Before that person returned to where she was standing in the back, she gave a warm smile.  Later on, when communion was about to be distributed, the mom of the boy kept looking back as if to ask her friend, do we go up? (Or maybe she was just asking for her son.) I don't think the lady in the back saw her but when that lady was walking up the aisle, the mom asked the question again. She was told no but with such a warm smile, it could no way be interpreted as a scolding. Behold the joy of the Eucharist, reserved for the Faithful but not with triumphalist exclusion. Rather, given the magnitude of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, it is not something that is handed out like candy. When the lady came back, she, of course, had some fellowship bread, which she joyfully shared with the mom and her boy.

It was a very edifying service. At the end, we all approached the Cross, held by Fr. Gary, in order to venerate it before leaving.  Normally, Fr. Gary says to each Christ is in our midst and, as we kiss the cross, I know the proper response is He is and ever shall be. Now because it was a feast day, Fr. Gary said Joyous Feast!. I said, Amen but I am sure that there is a more liturgical response. Can someone tell me what it is?

I was sad that I couldn't stay long for Coffee hour but I am grateful that I was able to attend the Liturgy. I am glad that I will be able to do so more often now! Praise the Lord....Oops, I mean, Glory to Jesus Christ! Oh, well, I guess both are correct! :)

at the end of the Service, Fr. Gary giving announcements. 

See you next time.