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!