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check out more photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48494538@N00/
On my 34th visit....(I have to stop calling these visits, any ideas on what to call them?), I noticed that the Icons were still being painted on the walls and they are looking fantastic, even if the scaffolding is a bit distracting. I love that on the very top of the ceiling in the front is an Icon of Jesus enthroned, surrounded by angels.
As I walked into the church and took my seat, I realized that I forgot to pick up a service book. I debated going back and getting one but instead I thought I would just pay attention really well so I can get a gist of what is going on. (Let us Attend!...good advice during the liturgy.) I was struck again on how everyone worshiped in their individual ways and, yet, it was truly corporate experience. Some crossed themselves constantly, some lifted their hands, some just stood there and I decided I needed to stop observing so much and just worship they way I felt led. So I crossed my self and raised my hands at appropriate times. (raising hands? hey, I was a pentacostal for ten years so it came naturally) I do love that each member of the body of Christ is individual, worshiping in a way that fits themselves and yet, all united as one. I have been to "cult like" places and everyone was lock-step. No room at all for an individual. Not so, in the Body of Christ!
Fr. Gary, in his homily, commented on how Bishop Michael spent some time with the congregation that past weekend. The whole parish camped out on the church grounds (Hierarchs in tents? interesting!) He said it was great to have the Bishop with us because the Bishop is supposed to be with his people. I did, at that time, think about my own pastor at my protestant church, Pastor Del, and how he would apply this to himself - that a pastor needs to be with his people, which he does. So a Bishop is not simply an administrator but, rather, a shepherd, who knows his sheep.
At the end of the Vespers service, Prestberta Mary came up to me as I stood waiting to venerate the Icons before I left the building and said, she was sorry that I could not be with them all at the camp out. She said it was very relaxing and hoped I could make plans to attend next year.
As it turned out, I spent the week end with my wife at a dog event, called "Your dog is worth it, too." An event that you can take your dogs to and raise money to fight cancer at the same time.
Once again, I am caught between two congregations. This is something I must consider. Even if I were to fully convert to Orthodoxy now, I have my wife to consider. Time is something don't have a lot of, like most people I know, so it gets difficult to fully imerse myself in Orthodoxy, other than in my private prayers. And I have been learning, that my private prayers, no matter how Orthodox in nature, are not enough.
Lord, have mercy!