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.