When I was a Pentecostal, there were times that I didn't "feel" like going to church but would go anyway and, afterwards, I would be grateful I did because of the emotional high I would receive. Well, even though I got no emotional high from attending Vespers (in the pentecostal sense that is) I am very glad I went. Because of the Christmas play I am directing at my Protestant Church- and because of some other reasons- I am a bit stressed around now and actually considered forgoing Vespers...but I didn't and I am glad. There is something about giving yourself over to Worship with your heart, mind and body in the setting of a Vespers service that is completely freeing. While Worship doesn't completely remove the stresses of life, it does put them in proper perspective. So my advice to any readers who are unsure if they should attend Church is, Just Do it!
Father Gary spoke about the three Holy Youths from the Book of Daniel. He did this by reading from a book from Fr Thomas Hopko, whom I know from Ancient Faith Radio. Of course, when I heard him say "the youths" I had to chase away images of "My Cousin Vinny" and Joe Pesci saying "Da Youts"...but that quickly passed and I was able to learn from the example of the three young men who would serve the true God only, even if it meant their death. Fr Hopko compared that attitude with the "Name it and Claim it" Gospel which, sadly, many prescribe to.
Tammy, who is reader John's wife, reminded me of something very important when living the Christian life: Love must be paramount! You see, as I was leaving she made sure she came up to me and asked if I would be able to make it for Christmas. When I told her I had too many Protestant things going on, she gave me a a warm hug, with the obligatory three kisses on the cheek and wished me a blessed Christmas with my family. There was such sincerity in the exchange that I could truly see that Christians are marked by the love they show for each other. All the liturgy in the world done with the best choirs is useless if Love is not in the community.
May all of God's people show love at all times!
I sat next to Deacon Ken in the back who was not in his Deacon uniform (May I call it that?) but dressed as a civilian. Whenever I sit next to him (He's always there before me), he always makes sure he gives me a playful punch in the arm as a greeting. This welcoming is as important as Tammy's hug. It all shows the love of Christ!
As I was leaving, Ken asked me if I was ready for my play and I told him yes and to please keep me in prayer about it. He said he and his wife would try to attend. I told him, "Great, you might even win a door prize!" Ken said, "Good, I could always use another door." And with that I left chuckling out of the church, to my car, off to pick up my son from work.
Who knew Deacons could be so funny?