photo by Tiffany Park, used under the creative commons license. check out here work at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiffanyvelez/
Yes, I can claim two dozen visits to an Orthodox Church. In a sense, they still feel like visits because Saturday nights around twice a month is not enough to become part of a community. I mean, really a part! Although I have made friends there and people see me as a fixture at Vesper's, I know from experience that to become connected not just to a few friends but to a whole community requires time spent working, laughing, crying and living together. To be sure, I already have this belonging in my Nazarene Church...but I have been a part of them for more than 15 years! And I am known by them and they understand my flaws, my bizarre sense of humor and, ah, quirks.
But all things in good time....
Yesterday, Vespers was at 5pm instead of the usual 7pm because the faithful there spent the day on a retreat which, according to reports, involved three clergy performing in skits...I wonder if that will end up on YouTube? I arrived early after a very un-Lenten stop at McDonald's to enjoy a burger and WiFi.
I can't remember if it was at the beginning of the service or a part of Vespers but there was an adorned Cross in the center of the room and, before the Icon was switched to St. John Climacus (of the Ladder), Prostrations were done to the Cross. Observing this, I can't help but feel that Orthodoxy and children are a great mix! There was this one woman in line who had a 6 year old daughter. She had a candle in her hand and was doing prostrations with a big smile on her face! Afterwards she rushed (reverently) to the front to light her candle.
Kids like to be doing things. I know this because I still run a youth group at my church (ages 7-12) and they are happiest when they are up running around playing games or doing something physical; they are saddest when they are sitting around listening to an adult preach to them. Well, Orthodoxy is very physical in it's worship so prostrations, bowing, lighting candles besides being more interesting to a kid, also involves the child in worship.
Speaking of kids, there was another Mother and child standing next to me. Being young, she had to leave the service a few times which is fine because the mother did the right thing by being in the back of the church where she would be less distracting. One thing that sticks out in my mind is during the "Our Father" prayer, I could hear the little girl's voice loud and clear. It was obvious to me that the Mother had done the right thing in teaching her child early basic Christianity.
This in a sense makes me sad that I did such a poor job in conveying faith to my children. If we would have stayed Lutheran, I, hopefully would have taught them the Creed, the Lord's prayer and other foundational Christian teachings. But, during the children's growing up years, we were (and still are) Nazarenes. They don't do stuff like that! They never pray the Lord's prayer, we have recited the Apostle's creed (never the Nicene) maybe once in the last five years and they have no formal catechism classes. Such structures would have been helpful in raising my children. Evangelicals tend leave us to our own devices and, left to that, I did nothing, save take them to church a lot.
Makes me wish I had discovered Orthodoxy a lot earlier...