Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pentacost Vespers

It seems every time I go to an Orthodox Service, they feed me. More Litya in this Vespers also.

I left my house exactly one half hour before 7pm so I arrived as the Priest was about to start. I quickly sat down in the back. These folding chairs were not covered in cloth like the others and I had feared that perhaps I was sitting in chairs designated for the choir since they were right next to me but I didn't let that distract me too much. I figured they would be forgiving if I sat in the wrong place, after all I am a newbie.

I really noticed the incense this time, the smells are unique in the Orthodox Church.

I invited my wife to go with me but she had to stay home to get ready for our upcoming road trip to Georgia. She said "this wasn't her thing" but I think she'll visit with me at least once. I also invited Daniel but he didn't come.

Karen and I have been going to a baptist church on Sunday's a contemporary service and they call it "the Five" since they meet at 5pm. So I called Vespers "The Seven" because that is when they meet.

They had a retired priest help out Fr Gary tonight along with three altar boys instead of the just one they had last time.

After the Service (that is when Tammy handed me the Litya and told me every time you come here, we feed you!) I walked right out and didn't hang around like I did last time. I guess I am a bit shy.

Perhaps next time I will strike up a conversation with Deacon Tom.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Orthodox Service

After years of reading about Orthodoxy and listening to podcasts about it, I finally took the plunge and visited an Orthodox Service. It was a 7pm Vespers service for Ascension Thursday. (In Orthodox thinking, the day actually begins sundown the night before so celebrating Ascension Thursday on Wednesday evening is do-able in Orthodox thinking)

First, I could not believe how beautiful the sanctuary was, with all the icons and candles etc. Since I arrived a bit early, I was able to observe others. A woman across the aisle (we all sat in folding chairs) was praying as one would do before a worship service but she was standing to do so.  Of course, this was no surprise to me because I have heard/read about how the Orthodox, like the Jews, stand for prayer. It was just a bit surreal to see what I have been reading about in "real life."

It was also surreal to see people kissing icons and bowing before them. 

In the beginning, a man who was wearing a robe introduced himself to me as John. (I asked if he were a priest and he said he was a reader). Later on, his wife Tammy introduced herself to me and after Vespers she introduced me to a Deacon (named Tom) and finally to Fr Gary who, it turns out, was  a convert from Roman Catholicism.  (His girlfriend, now wife, had a lot to do with his conversion).

After the service we all shared in Litya, something I had heard about but go to partake is a picture of what it looked like - This is from a different church but you get the idea...Litya at Saint Sava's

Everyone went up to receive this bread/wine combination plus a special blessing from the priest but I did not go up but Tammy handed me some afterwards. She took special care to tell me it was not the consecrated Eucharist so I could partake.

I absolutely loved the music. It was all aCapella and the choir was great. Everything was sung, even the bible readings.

Another thing I had read/heard about is how people would kiss the priest's hand. This they would do because it is those hands that offer the Eucharist and it was interesting to see the altar boys kiss his hand whenever they would hand him a candle or something.

I look forward to going back.