St. Peter and St. Paul’s feast day was last Tuesday so I went to vespers the night before, making it a total of four trips to this Orthodox parish.
I did hang around a bit and talk to people after the service and they were, as Ken promised, a chatty group. I am glad I stayed because I learned something. They smile…one thing that I found a bit disheartening when I first started going to Vespers is that everyone looked so serious when they were worshipping. Granted, this is coming from a person who likes to laugh a lot and has on more than one occasion, had to suppress laughter during a Sunday morning worship service because of a funny thing he saw or heard during the service and I must say that there were times I looked for these opportunities to find something to laugh about during the service (maybe I was that bored?)…but at Vespers? With the Incense, the bells, the icons, the beautiful chanting, the constant invocation of the Trinity? How can I even think of looking for something to laugh at when the important work of Worship is going on?
But after Vespers, when they were just hanging about, they laughed, the smiled, they told corny jokes (After I was introduced to everyone in the circle and each gave his name, someone said, “they’ll be a quiz later”) just normal people- who happen to connected to a 2000 year old church, started by Christ Himself!
I also talked with Ken for the first time, as we walked out of the Sanctuary, he says, “Mister Jim Dude!” That is my screen name of http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/ and he went on to tell me that is how he found my blog. (To be honest, he kinda freaked me out when he posted a comment on this blog, telling of specific events that were to happen at the parish – I didn’t tell anyone about this blog? How did he find it? Ken said it was the Holy Spirit. )He had went on to the forum and saw a post called “My first visit to an Orthodox church” and I referenced my blog where I talked about meeting a reader named John. Ken thought. I just saw a person who had his first visit at our parish and we have a reader named John. Could that be “Mister Jim Dude” Of course, it was.
I also had a short chat with Ken’s son Bill who is very interested in the Air Force. He is a nice kid who is interested in being a chaplain. The conversation was a bit awkward at times because he seemed shy but, hey, I can’t blame him. He gets called over by his father and is told to have a conversation with a complete stranger. I hope he does join the air force; we could use more Orthodox chaplains.
I did learn something about Icons that day. After Vespers, before I joined the “chatty group” John the reader explained all the icons on the Iconostas, explaining all the different feasts they represented throughout the church year. Basically, the entire Orthodox faith was explained in pictures. He told me that for a specific feast the icon is removed from the Iconostas and placed on a special table in the sanctuary so people can venerate it.
As of right now, I don’t venerate icons, but give me time, give me time!
Look forward to my next visit. I don’t know if I will be there this Saturday because of the Fourth of July barbeque at the in-laws but Ken says, “You don’t have to post on your blog, every time you miss Vespers and the reason why you didn’t make it. We are just glad you are here.” Okay, maybe it is just some residual Roman Catholic guilt kicking in.