Sunday, December 5, 2010

15th Visit...and counting!

Apocrypha? I think not! It's the Word of God!

Yesterday marked my 15th visit to my new found parish. At first, I thought I had missed it because when I walked in everyone was hanging around in the foyer while Father Gary was conducting a service inside; I found out later someone was having a commemoration of some loved one who had died and it was running a bit late. Father had blessed some sort of barley sweet cake at the ceremony and after Vespers I ate some...pretty good stuff.

The reading last night were from the Wisdom of Solomon, a book not accepted by the Protestants. I have been reading the Wisdom of Sirach in my new Orthodox Study Bible I bought for myself in October for my birthday. I have decided to read all the "Apocrypha" books since I have never really read it before since I have been a protestant for so long. Sirach is pretty interesting. It is sort of like proverbs, only less one liners and more of a narrative. Very instructive. (As an aside, I laughed twice when I read Sirach's illustration of a eunuch and a virgin, in order to demonstrate an impossible or frustrating situation)!

When I was 16 and attending a Pentecostal church, I remember asking my friend and mentor Dave (Dave was mentioned in the June 22nd post) about the Apocrypha books and why we had a different bible from the Catholics. He said the Apocrypha books were, upon reading, clearly inferior to Scripture. I, being 16, just accepted that. Reading it now, I feel like I am reading the bible for the first time (because in essence, I am!) Dave eventually became a Roman Catholic so I think he doesn't hold the same view anymore. In the meantime, I plan on reading Tobit after I finish with Sirach.

A young lady was standing in front of me. (I later learned she was from Georgia, the country, not the American State) and when everyone sat down for the Bible readings, she remained standing. An older lady (her mom maybe?) came from the back, stood next to her and then motioned for her to sit down. (undoubtedly so she wouldn't draw attention to herself). I guess this is an example on how Orthodoxy is not monolithic. We may believe the same things, worship the same way but there are local variations. This, I celebrate!

I kinda like that the young women stood. She's probably thinking, "What's wrong with these old people? We're Orthodox, we're supposed to stand!" (Gotta love the Russians, a hardy people...oh, wait, she was from Georgia....just as hardy!)

At the end of the general confession when people approached Father Gary to kiss the Cross he is holding and then his hand (Since those hands provide the Body of Christ) I noticed that a retired priest who is attached to the parish did not kiss Father Gary's hand. I wonder what that's about? anyone know?

Please keep me in your prayers.


  1. Following a similar journey, currently in the Lutheran church after leaving Baptist and non-denominal world.

  2. Allen,
    God bless you on your journey. I hope you get plenty of support along the way!

  3. The Russians would have no issue with you identifying the Georgians with them, though the Georgians themselves might object. It's true that Orthodoxy is not monolithic at all, though the Slavs do not in the least comprehend why some Americanized churches have pews. ;-)

    I agree with you about the Apocrypha, Wisdom of Sirach is one of my personal favorites. and when you read about the history of the Old Testament, using the Septuagint makes so much more sense.

    As to why a retired priest did not kiss your priest's hand: from what I have observed in the past, priests clasp hands and kiss each other's hand at the same time, since they are both of priestly rank. I suppose that they didn't bother with this because one was holding the Cross. An alternative explanation is that kissing the priest's hand is falling out of vogue in some circles in America because people simply aren't taught to do it. The likelihood of this for a retired priest, though, is unlikely.

    So are you thinking about visiting liturgy some time? I know it's an odd situation for you, but having vespers without liturgy following it the next day is like pulling an all nighter and then not getting that precious afternoon nap- it's effort and repentance without any fulfillment. Try to go sometime, I can guarantee you'll fall in love with it. :-)

    I enjoy continuing to read about your impressions and thoughts concerning Orthodoxy.

  4. Alexandra,
    Yes, I would LOVE to visit a Divine Liturgy and I know it would be great but, in my life now, I am heavily involved with a Protestant Church with my family. They would feel like I am deserting them.
    Even though they are Heterodox, they are still I am taking it slowly.