Sunday, December 19, 2010

16th Visit- busy and stressed...but I made time to go!

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?


  1. I really appreciate your stories of your experiences.

    Good word on the "just do it" - though that gets really hard sometimes. Yesterday my schedule allowed me to take in Vespers at the local Monastery, but it was cold out, and I didn't "feel like it", and we had evening plans to get back for, and what's the point anyway... etc. etc.

    But, yay, this time I managed to plow through the funk enough to get there.

  2. Bill I know exactly what you are saying...a few weeks ago I was in a funk myself and I said NO to going to Vespers instead of plowing through.. It's easy to say things but harder to do things!

  3. I was thinking again today about your comment about getting loving response when you told Tammy you had "too many Protestant things going on." I've had similar responses - though no hugs :) - when parishioners at my occasional Vespers appearances ask if they will see me at Sunday Liturgy, or ask if my family will be joining me next time. Really, they've been very understanding about it.

    I actually think I'm less understanding about it than they are. Sometimes, as we've already discussed, it's hard to motivate to get out to church. But sometimes I am motivated, and even planning on it, and then something in Protestant-ville comes up that needs my attention, and I have to set aside my plans for Vespers (or other service that I'm finally able to go to.)

    I get resentful about it sometimes. Not so much that I growse around and act miserable towards people. But enough that I see it and recognize it for what it is.

  4. I think that as I got and more "drawn in" I will have the same experiences...the problem will be that I want to do more Orthodox things but my Protestant things get in the way...I know it will come to a point where I will have to break away from the Protestants so I can give myself completely to Orthodoxy.

  5. Bill - I like your reminder to "just do it." It reminds me of the times when I was still between both traditions (Prot/Ortho) and I would be driving to Vespers..everything within me wanted me to turn the car around and go back home. But I just pushed on. In many ways it was a spiritual battle. Now the battle has moved to different areas of my life.

  6. I like you last comment Jim. I've had similar feelings with Catholicism, but in my case, God has kept leading me back to Lutheranism. Sometimes we end up where we began...

  7. Mike, but what is different is while I felt drawn to RC (which is how I was raised and where I began), on my search back towards Catholicism, I ran across Orthodoxy and I can't let go. It is foreign to me in many ways but everything I study in it makes sense....

  8. Since it is difficult for you to attend the Sunday services right now, and you are retired, why not try to attend a liturgy for a Feast Day? Those usually don't fall on Sunday and you could get the experience of a liturgy.
    One thing I really liked about Ortohdoxy is that is so rooted in traditions that date back to the apostles. How can that be wrong if the apostles themselves worshiped this way? Also, it is strict. It doesn't say "If you don't like the way run the church, then go open your own" which I have seen many times in the Protestant churches before I converted. It says "this is it! Now, how can we help you learn?" It's not about finding a faith that 'fits' you. God is ONE God. It's about training yourself to 'fit' the true church. This was what I realized just before deciding to become a Catechumen in the Russian Orthodox Church :)
    Jim, I pray for you regularly, and so does my entire congregation. We have a couple men who broke away from their protestant beliefs to become Orthodox, without their wives following. They know in their heart where they belong. Now, their wives attend Vespers with them and we pray they will eventually convert as well. God willing, I will have another Orthodox brother in you before too long. I know, in your own time. I pray that your time becomes God's time sooner than later :)
    ~Lavenna Ambrosia

  9. Lavenna,
    I am so grateful for your prayers. I am now at the point of just waiting for the right time to become a Catechumen. I am thoroughly convinced about the Orthodox Faith but I have to consider my family. They are Christians (Like I am, even without being Orthodox)and I have to get the timing right.
    Keep me in your prayers, still...thanks

  10. wow, just re-reading old, is all I have to say.