A week ago last Saturday was October 8th, which marked my birthday, Deacon Ken's ordination to the Priesthood and my 39th time at an Orthodox Church.
I had plans of spending the day with my family and my dogs (well, my dogs are part of my family so I guess I am being redundant) and then asking who would like to come with me to Vespers on my birthday. I figured my family would be more inclined to accompany me to Church as a favor to me on my birthday. Well, it turns out most of my kids had to work and, after spending the day with my wife, my son Matthew and my dogs at a park- which was great fun for me and a wonderful way to spend my birthday, by the way - I asked if my wife would like to go to church with me. She said, "Do you really want me to?" This she asked with a tone that said, "I really don't want to go."
I told her, honestly, that I didn't want her to go if she didn't want to. I truly believe in the "Come and See" approach and don't want anyone to be guilted into going to church.
I had half expected such a response so I wasn't really as hurt as I thought I might have been. We then talked a little bit about how she had been at two Greek Orthodox Weddings and they were just too strange for her and she really had no interest in going. Again, "Come and see" is the way to go. She came and saw and didn't like what she saw, I guess.
As I was getting dressed, Karen told me that if she had better clothes available that she would have gone with me. I believed her. (Nice clothes were in the laundry room, getting ready to be washed). But I don't want her going if she has no desire. Coercion is no way to introduce people to Orthodoxy. After all, I was scared to death the first time I went to Vespers and I wanted to go! Imagine forcing someone to go who had no interest.
When I arrived at Vespers, it was really a blessing to Worship. I arrived a bit late and sat (or stood, rather) right behind the newly ordained Fr. Ken. At the end of Worship we all went to venerate the Icons and Fr Ken, being clergy, was right after Fr. Gary in the line. By the time I got in the line, I noticed that Fr. Ken had stood to the side so as to greet people who wanted to congratulate him on his Ordination. I saw how they were grasping his hand and kissing it as is the custom to honor the hands that are used in bringing the Body and Blood to the Faithful. Fr. Ken gave his blessing and a hug to each. I had said to Fr. Ken in the past when I learned that he was to be ordained that, "Well, I ain't gonna kiss your hand." I said this jokingly but he responded, in honesty, that he didn't want me to do anything that made me uncomfortable. Well, as I was in line I fully intended give him that honor but, as I grasped his hands he gave me the triune kiss on cheek (Besides being Trinitarian, it seems very European) and he gave me his blessing. Well, I was so pleased to receive his blessing and I was so quick to congratulate him, that I forgot to kiss his hand! Man, a fine convert I am going to turn out to be!
As I was leaving, Tammy grabbed me and gave me a quick greeting, wishing me many years as she wished me a happy birthday. I rushed out of there so I could go home and have cake and Ice cream with my family.
All in all, it was a great day and I look forward to going back again.