Tuesday, November 16, 2010

14 visit! Back in the swing of things!

my wife Karen and I during the Veteran's Day parade in NYC two years ago.

After a three week absence, it was good to be back. I walked in, decided to grab a service book and sat in the back. I was originally opposed to using the book, afraid that I might “read ahead” instead of live in the moment of worship. (I usually do that when I go to my protestant church- during the sermon or at anytime really, I get distracted by reading) But I thought it would be a good idea to participate by singing along with the Psalms, ect. I was always impressed how some there would sing along, all from memory. Reader John comes to mind. He has memorized so much of the Vespers service that he is able to sing, do metanies, and worship with his whole being, without being distracted by a book. That, of course, comes from years of practice. If I want that, I have to start singing along , too and to do that I have to “know the lyrics.”

Father Gary gave a homily on the life of St. Philip. That particular saint I invoke every day (at least on the days I pray in the morning) because he is one of the patrons of “The fellowship of St. John the Divine” whose prayer book I use. (The other patron is St. John). I really hadn’t known much about Philip, other than what I had read in the Gospels. But Father Gary called upon Church Tradition and I learned several things about him that I had not known before. You see how much information and encouragement the Protestants miss but rejecting Tradition? St. Philip, pray for me!

At the end of the service, I grabbed Bill, the altar server, who is also in the Civil Air Patrol and gave him all of my BDU uniforms. I won’t need them anymore because, not only am I retired but that uniform is being phased out in favor of the ABU. You can see a picture above of me in a BDU uniform so you can know what they (and I) look like. I told Bill he has to take off all the name tapes, rank ect and he said, no problem. He was especially happy that he got a liner for his jacket. He must have had some cold days without it!

I rushed out of there in order to meet my wife and pick up the kids. Before I did, Deacon Ken said, “Well done good and faithful servant, in reference to my retirement. (He gave the same greeting on facebook). I do wish I didn’t have to rush out all the time. It will be hard to make friends, if I don’t spend time talking.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Going to Vespers Tonight....

.....that's why I am smiling! Okay, it's not me but this is how I feel.

I plan on leaving in about a half an hour to go to Vespers. I haven't been there in three weeks and I really miss it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Finished the book given to me by Deacon Ken!

I know...I’m a slow reader. But I did get “Cloud of Witnesses” by David N. Bell finished and I thought I ‘d share a few thoughts about it.

First of all, for a book about church history and theology it is very readable and non technical for us layman and it is at times funny. (That’s always a plus for me). I like how the author handles church history honestly, not painting a perfect picture because, of course, the Church isn’t perfect. The description of Constatine comes to mind. He honestly tells of all the good he did for the church- making Christianity legal is pretty cool, don’t you think?- but he admits his flaws and his sins- And by the way, what’s with him getting baptized by an Arian Bishop, anyway?

David Bell covered the council of Nicea extensively and talked about all the early important Church Fathers and their contribution to Christian Doctrine. Again, this could have been presented in a very dry, academic way but, thankfully, was not- it was thoroughly readable and I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to get a brief overview of Church Doctrine.

One thing I know very little about is the council of Calcedon and the departure of the Coptics, Armenians and some other group I don’t now quite remember. The sad thing is from what I understand today, the Eastern Orthodox church is in discussion with these groups and both sides have concluded they believe the same thing...so why are we not in communion with each other? I know, Orthodoxy is all about being patient! I must admit that while I was reading about the disagreement, I did have trouble keeping it strait. What exactly were they fighting about? Other than 1054 AD, this was the biggest split ever. I do want to learn more about it, though.

So now I started reading “Way of the Pilgrim” which is about the Jesus prayer. This could be very helpful (and convicting!) and I am looking forward to reading it. I have been using my chotki more (gift from Deacon Ken) and it is amazing how such a tool, if I may call it that, is helpful in prayer.

With money I got from my birthday, I purchased an Orthodox Study Bible, Old and New testaments. I want all out and got the cool leather one. I am right now reading the Wisdom of Sirach. (Since I am now 50, I feel as if I have to make up for lost time so I am now reading the books I once rejected as apocryphal). I am also following the daily lectionary and using the St Philip’s Prayer Manuel and common Discipline from the Fellowhsip of St. John the Divine for my daily prayer rule.

Two weeks ago I didn’t go to Vespers because I was spending time with my wife whom I hadn’t seen due to our very busy lives and last week I didn’t go because I was working 12 hour shifts at the Air Force and was, frankly, quite exhausted. This Friday, I officially retire from the Air Force. (My last work day with them was Sunday) so I should have more time and less exhaustion to pursue other things. I know I don’t owe you, dear reader, an explanation as to my church attendance but I thought I’d give it anyway. I am serious about Orthodoxy and hope to work through all I have to in order to convert.

So, God willing, I will be in Vespers this Saturday.