Saturday, December 31, 2011

So sad I won't be at Vesper's tonight!

I planned on going to Vesper's tonight which they moved to 5pm because of New Year's eve but, sadly, I caught my son's flu and am under the weather so I best stay home...:(

In the meantime, Happy New year to all and you can listen to my daughter singing the classic "What Child is this" which she sang at my Protestant Church on Christmas eve!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Yes, it's Christmas!

In my protestant church I am responsible for church sign which announces different things to the world. All of December I posted an announcement inviting all to the "Candlelight Communion Worship Service on Christmas Eve" Well, I attended that service with my family and as soon as it was over, I changed the sign so the world would see this! It's not very protestant sounding but it is true!

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Visit #45 ~ Happy to be there!

photo by Rob Kliene, used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos at::

When I was a young man, attending a pentacostal Church, our pastor would ask the question from the pulpit, "Are you happy to be in the house of the Lord tonight?" We would all answer "Amen" and the service would continue with a rousing hymn of some sort.

Well, If Father Gary had asked a similar question, I might have reverted to my pentacostal ways and screamed a hearty "Amen!" It truly was good to be chanting psalms and hymns. As we move closer to the celebration of the Nativity, I find it very edifying to spend time in Worship. I found myself thinking, "I want to be a part of these people" ~ a people who put worship of Christ first! Vespers is a time of reverence and a time of Awe!

Fr Ken was in attendance tonight. He sang with the choir as Fr. Gary led us. Afterwards, I spoke with Fr Ken for a while and, as I greeted him with the triune kiss of peace, he smiled because he noticed I was growing a goatee. 'Ah, you are becoming one of us" he said, or something like that. I told him that it was my wife's idea and if she knew the special significance that the Orthodox place on beards, she would opt to have me hairless! I will post a picture of myself when it is grown in.

We also chatted about his parish that he is pastor of in Manville, NJ. They recently moved back into their church because it had been flooded out due to Hurricane Irene. "I paid a hundred dollars per pew at," Fr Ken said. Given that new pews cost $2000 each, he was very happy for the bargain. He is pastor of a Carpatho-Russian Parish and they are on the old calendar so he invited me to Christmas eve service in January. I may go but it is over an hour and 15 minutes from my house....but I might!

Speaking of Christmas eve, I made a video invite for my protestant parish. I am in it (sadly). The lighting is bad, the volume is horrible but it is good for a non~professional like me! I had trouble with Windows movie maker recognizing some of the files so I had to retake some of the footage. Anyway. take a listen and enjoy.
At the end of the video is my pastor who promised to visit Vespers with me sometime in January!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Celebrating Herman on Visit 44!

Ah, no....not this Herman;

We celebrated St. Herman of Alaska and what a man he turned out to be! Fr Gary's Homily said that many times we are told that saints are just like us (thus making holiness an achievable goal) but Herman, said Fr. Gary, was not. He then recounted his long, treacherous journey to Alaska, his many hardships and many of them were self-induced for ascetic purposes. This man was amazing and he brought the Gospel to the Aleuts, a tribe in Alaska! I especially like the story where Herman was able to pick up a log that 4 men couldn't manage~ talk about your super-saint!

I am glad during this Advent period there are more services being offered. Now it is true that I am not keeping the Nativity fast but I can see how those who are would be refreshed by these services much like people are refreshed with the pre-sanctified liturgy during Lent. As it is, since I cannot make every Saturday Vespers service, these extra times help me.

I was feeling a bit self-conscience because I was wearing sneakers. Yes, I had "dressy" pants and a "dressy" shirt on but before I left for Vespers, I took the dog in the back yard to "do her business" and put on my sneakers because it was a bit muddy in the back. Well, I guess I forgot I had them on! Oh, well. I certainly didn't mean any disrespect and I surmised, after I discovered it, it was better to just wear the sneakers than turn around in my car and retrieve my shoes, making me be late for Vespers.

I scooted right out of there without having the chance to greet anyone because my son was waiting to get picked up at work.

St Herman, pray for us!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

43rd time in the Orthodox Church - Full parking lot but not a full church?

Matchbox cars @ garage sale
photo by Daniel Spils, used under the creative commons license. check out more photos at:

So even though I had one of the worst work days in a while and even though I was totally exhausted from 11 hours on the job and one hour each way commuting and, even though my son begged me to go to my protestant parish for our weekly Old Testament survey taught by my pastor, I decided I was going to Vespers!

My son Justin was a little offended that I would choose Vespers over going to the Bible Study (which is taught very well by my Pastor) because he took it as a slight against him. I tried to explain to him that I really needed to be in Worship and not just sit around discussing the Bible. Don't get me wrong, my Pastor does an excellent job in the bible Study and he always makes sure there is practical application (so we are doers of the Word and not just hearers) but nothing beats Worshiping the Triune God. In the end, we decided that my wife would drop Justin off at the Bible Study and I would pick him up after Vespers.

When I arrived at the Church, I couldn't believe how many cars were in the parking lot! I had always heard that St. Nicholas was a popular Saint and now I believed it! I arrived a little late - Hey, give me a break; remember my 11 hour day :) - and I noticed that a lot of people were still mulling about, smoking cigarettes and a lady even said hello to me. I thought, this is odd? Shouldn't they be inside already? Vespers started 5 minutes ago! It wasn't until I noticed the full parish hall that I realized that Alcoholics Anonymous met on Monday nights and when I walked into the Narthex and spotted everyone inside, I realized it was just the same regular Vespers crowd. Well, that's okay. It was good to be here!

What can I say about the Worship? It's always good! I did have to adjust for the prokemien (Don't know if that is spelled correctly). Instead of of chanting "The Lord is King, He is robed in Majesty" we said something else which I cannot now remember. Different phrases for different days of the week. Since Vespers is usually always on a Saturday night, I am used to "The Lord is King." But the change was good!

We had Litya as is the custom and after I went up with everyone else for a little anointing of oil on my head and to have some wine dipped bread, I returned to my seat and was greeted by Matushka Mary. She was happy to see me and told me a story about how when she was a kid and someone received oil on the head and when they went home anyone else in the family who could not make the service would rub their heads against the person with the oil to "get a blessing." She then reminded me that the oil is holy and not to just wipe it off willy~nilly (willy~nilly are my words, not hers).

That raises a question. Back during lent, I believe, there was a service where Father Gary, at the end, anointed everyone with oil on the head and hands and he went out of the way to say this is a Sacrament of the Church and only the faithful should participate. Others should come up for a blessing, which I did. Now, is the oil I got on St. Nicholas's Vespers service, a sacrament as well? If so, I should not participate. Does anyone know?

This Saturday is the cookie walk! Maybe, I can get my wife to make some cookies to donate...I'll let you know. I would bake them myself but then, I believe, we would lose potential converts. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gonna See the Real Santa Clause ~ or ask for his prayers, at least!

Grumpy Santa
photo by Richard Elzey, used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos at:

December 6th is St. Nicolas' day so my parish is having Vespers the night before!
That means tonight, God willing, I will be in Church praying and asking for prayers.

Hey, I have nothing against the legend of Santa Clause and all that....I mean, who doesn't love fat little men, breaking and entering in order to leave gifts. But I love St. Nicholas, whom the Santa legend is based upon. He is a popular saint because of his generosity and humility....and, also, you got to love a guy who will slap heretics in the face!

So, tonight, God Willing, I will be in Vespers.

The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved