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Last week, because of the Business Meeting, I did not stay for the Coffee Hour. Fr. Gary and the Church Council made the call to delay the Coffee Hour until half way through the meeting so that their Quorum wouldn't leave. So, last week, I left right after the Liturgy. But this week, I stayed and made some new friends. But more on the Coffee Hour later...
I found it easier to enter into Worship, my second time at the Divine Liturgy. I had said that the Divine Liturgy was just like Vespers with Communion but I think I was wrong on that account. There seemed to be a different dynamic going on that I hadn't realized. As a result, last week I was a bit more "shell shocked" than I had thought meaning that everything seemed a bit foreign to me and, thus, I was less able not to be distracted by its newness. This week, however, I was able to "enter in." And, by the way, when I complained about the Cherubic Hymn "droning on" last week, I found that if you actually concentrate on Worshiping God, the "drone" becomes a Hymn of Praise. At least, that is what happened this week! :)
One of my new friends is someone I have seen for a year at Vespers but never talked to. His name is Matthew. We were actually in the Narthex when he introduced himself and, at the time, the hours were being prayed in the Nave. It seemed strange to be having a conversation while prayers were being offered. (I guess Orthodox like to multitask) but we weren't the only ones having a conversation. What was funny was he stopped the conversation completely when the Lord's Prayer was being recited. (we all joined in) and then went right back to the conversation. This happened twice, since as I said last week, they pray two different "hours" before the Divine Liturgy. Our conversation also stopped when Fr Gary came back to the Narthex to incense the Icons. It was certainly a different perspective than what I am used to.
Later on, Matthew joined me at the table for Coffee Hour.
The first thing I noticed when I came into the parish hall was a sign made out of bread that said, "Go Pats". Since it was Superbowl Sunday that seemed appropriate although maybe the Giants fans would disagree with me! Presbytera Mary said, "Why don't you take a picture of this for your blog?" So here it is:
Tami shepherded me to a table where her husband John and Matthew (with his little boy James) were sitting. Tami, ever the gracious hostess, introduced me to the new reader, named Jack, who was from Wisconsin and took the name Innocent (Do readers get a new name when they are tonsured or is that his baptismal name?). It turns out he has only been at this parish for three weeks. We got to talking and I met my first evangelical convert at the parish. (All the other converts were from the Roman Catholics). When I asked Jack more about his background he asked, have you ever heard of Jack Hayford? You bet I have! He is a famous Four Square Gospel Pastor and one or two of my friends actually went to his church on the west coast back in the day.
"Well," Jack continued, "I am his son."
Wow, I am meeting all sorts of people in Orthodoxy!
I was fascinated talking to Jack, listening to his story and learning (but I think I already knew this but forgot) that his father wrote the famous Worship Chorus "Majesty". What I didn't know is Jack Hayford wrote it while he was in England and he had witnessed the Pomp and Circumstance of the Queen for a special anniversary so he decided to write something for the King of Kings. It is a great song. Here it is!
I asked Jack how his father reacted to his conversion to Orthodoxy and he said his father was always very ecumenical so he was cool with it.
I really enjoyed the coffee hour. I have been worshiping with these people for over a year but it was nice to actually sit down and get to know them. I hope to do that more and more.