Sunday, October 24, 2010

13th Visit - not at all unlucky!


something like this happened at Vespers tonight - read below

Great time at Vespers last night. I’ve been away for two weeks as already noted on the blog and it was great to be back.

Something great I noticed last night. Ten minutes into Vespers, a young couple walks in with a baby, I’m guessing around two years old. They, at an appropriate time, approach the icons and venerate, crossing themselves and kissing the icon. Then, the mom lifts up the baby, the little one crosses herself and mom leans her towards the Icon to kiss it. Besides rating a ten on the Adorable scale, it was also a very teachable moment. Protestants, at least in the Evangelical world, have a special room for babies; it’s called the nursery and babies and young children are separated from the worship experience so that they don’t become a bother to the adults. In Holy Orthodoxy, the family that worships together enters into Salvation together.

I guess it makes sense in an Evangelical’s mind to provide nursery care during the worship service. After all, the highlight and zenith of any Evangelical Service is the Sermon, which can go on anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the local church. And since, the sermon requires intellect; it makes no sense to subject little ones to that. But in Orthodoxy, where God uses matter (i.e., the Eucharist, the waters of baptism, icons) to feed spiritually, all can benefit from Worship. See what the Evangelicals are missing out on? No doubt, it is great to listen to God’s Word expounded upon and the Holy Spirit can move an individual through it (for example, me) but there is so much more available than that. I guess that is why Orthodoxy is called the “Fullness of Faith.”

Later on, the mom brought the little one to light a candle.

Father Gary spoke about St. Athanasius of the 14th century. (I think I am getting the name correct- it’s not the Athanasius of the great creed. If I am wrong, someone please correct me) Anyway, this man wanted nothing more than to be left in solitude to pursue his monastic life but God kept calling him to Pastoral work. He kept withdrawing and God kept bringing him back- Sort of a Jonah-ish reluctance, eh? In fact, towards the end of his life Christ appears to him and rebukes him for not pursuing the pastoral calling he had. Father Gary made the point we are all to follow our vocation. Good advice and May God help me be faithful.

After Vespers, as Deacon Ken recommended on my facebook page, I had Father Gary give a blessing over my car. I opened the door so he could, after some prayers, sprinkle holy water on it. A little group gathered around to pray with us which was nice. My wife had said make sure you have the priest say a prayer for the driver as well as the vehicle. Well, as Father Gary sprinkled the car, saying "This Vehicle is sanctified through the Holy Spirit." (or something like that)- some Holy Water splattered just below my eye. So I guess that counts as a blessing on the driver!

I mentioned to Deacon ken how I was enjoying the book "Cloud of Witness". Hopefully, my next post will include some of my impressions of that book.

Here's the Car that Father Gary blest! It's a sweet ride!


  1. As a father of three for whom children's participation is important, I really want to compliment you on this post. I should tell you that there are, unfortunately, some Orthodox parishes that have adopted the nursery model. There are also priests in Russia who do not want young children in the services. That said, I do not think they represent Orthodoxy at its best and the standard I've seen in America has been precisely what you describe. I agree with your sentiments concerning nurseries and the need for the children to be raised in the faith from the moment of their baptism.

  2. Oh, PS, I have a 1972 VW Beetle, with the autostick.

  3. frontierorthdoxy,
    I know a family that goes to my present (protestant)church, traveling 25 minutes to get here even though there is a church right down the block from them. Why? When they went there the ushers harassed and pressured them to put their two little ones in the nursery. They wanted no distractions during the sermon! Of course, I am not a big fan of noisy children during worship but children can learn respect and to be quiet...and they can participate in worship!
    BTW, I Love my new Beetle!

  4. I see something similar at St. Innocents, where I visit. Little ones are often there at Vespers, and I see them kiss and cross, and help light the candles. It is something that attracts me to Orthodoxy - not just because it is cute or endearing, but because of the underlying theology it represents. The post-reformation churches I have been a part of have never been quite sure what to do about children, and what to say about their status as "saved people", and when baptism becomes possible, or necessary. It's all tangled up in ideas or theories of "age of accountability" and when salvation happens.

    In the churches I have grown up in, children are "safe" until they reach an age when they can make an "adult decision" for Christ, at which point they are "saved" and can be baptized. But when does that happen? Generally it's been understood to be after age 13, but often the children have prayed to "accept Jesus as their savior" long before that, sometimes as early as 5. So what about all the years in between? Discussions (and practical situations) can get very messy.

    So, when I encountered the Orthodox understanding of salvation, and how it related to the baptism of babies, and their growing in faith in the church, as full participants, it was like a fog lifting, and things became clear. (I know there are still "messy" problems - being an "Orthodox" child does not guarantee becoming a Christian adult.)

  5. My Greek priest (and father of six) says children love Orthodox worship, but only in small doses. They can't keep their attention through a long, long service. So, he says, take them to venerate icons, then over the the candles, sing, hold them, let them play quietly, take them for a walk, but always try to bring their attention back, get them to play a little less, watch and participate a little more. It's slow and artful, but it works over time.

    In some ways, this process is like the spiritual life. Teaching and training ourselves to pay attention, to struggle through, to be disciplined, to focus, to listen and pray.

  6. Melxiopp,
    Your priest is very wise to draw the children in, bit by bit....similar things have been done in protestant churches. I know young families who bring a special bag or box of quiet things to occupy little ones... I think the mistake I see in protestant churches is that "quiet play" is all the kids do and not much attempt is made to draw them in or at least, very little. I guess when most of the worship service is a sermon it is hard for anyone to participate.

  7. Brother in Law it blest or blessed? I'm just saying....

  8. It's probably blessed but you know I like to take liberties with the English Language!

  9. Here's a post on a similar topic from a (very) recent convert to Orthodoxy from Lutheranism: