I arrived at 9am for the "Adult Education" which would be known as Sunday School by protestants. I walked into the Nave and saw reader John fixing the candles. His jaw dropped when he saw me. His expression said, "Hey, you only come on Saturday Nights! What are you doing here now?" John warmly greeted me with a hug and later Fr Gary came out of the Sanctuary and greeted me.
"You decided to take the plunge," He said, as he gave me the triune kiss on the cheek.
I smiled and said, "Yes."
The Adult Education class was a study on Metropolitan Kallistos Ware's book, "The Inner Kingdom." A good book I must read.
Ten minutes before 10am, when the Liturgy was supposed to start, Reader John started leading us in prayers. We said the "Our Father" twice. Can someone explain what that is all about? I imagine, we did "Matins" and some other service. I don't know.
I was surprised when the bells started ringing. I thought that only happened on Pascha but it seems every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection. :)
Although I was happy to be there, my overall "feeling" was a bit of a let down. On the drive home I started to think about why that would be? Well, I guess in my mind, I knew it was a big milestone to go to the Divine Liturgy, that when it came, it was almost as if it were only just Vespers with Communion. And that's okay - I mean, the feeling part, that is. It is almost as if God is asking me, "So, are you going to seek out "feelings" or are you going to Worship?"
I must admit, though, I did get a feeling of awe as Father Gary processed around the church with the gifts, praying for Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Michael. As I look at the chalice and the plate with the bread, I thought, "This is about to become the Body and Blood of Jesus!"
This is actually not my first Divine Liturgy. And I am not talking about my Pascha Vigil at this Parish, either. When I was in the Air Force, back in the 1980's, I was a Chapel Manager and I became friendly with the Orthodox Chaplain. I knew nothing about Orthodoxy then and only saw them as some weird branch of the Roman Catholic Church. I remember liking the Liturgy but not really understanding much of it. I especially liked the Cherubic Hymn -
Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim and sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life giving trinity, lay aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of all invisibly escorted by angelic hosts. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Well, I loved it then, but, sadly, at last Sunday's Liturgy, that hymn seemed to drag on. Sorry to be so blunt but I guess I just remember it differently.
Again, that's okay. I am in this for the long haul. Just like it took me a while to get used to the Eastern Orthodox version of the Roman Catholic "Gloria" and the way the East does the doxology, I can get used to this new version, at least new to me.
Now, I still plan to go to Worship with my wife on Sundays but I believe that this Sunday, I will again attend the Divine Liturgy. Please pray for me. One of my struggles is that on a lot of Sundays, I actually work overtime at my job. With this economy, I can use the extra money. I know as I progress to become a Catechumen, that Sunday's will have to belong to God. Pray for alternate sources of income. But, I am not going to worry about that now. Indeed, it is a big step that I actually went to Divine Liturgy. We will take it one day at a time!
I actually did NOT stay for Coffee hour because immediately after the Liturgy, they had their annual business meeting and if they had coffee hour, no one would stay for the meeting and they wouldn't be able to get a quorum. Sounds like the Orthodox have the same problem as the Evangelicals! :)
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below. Also, if someone could answer the question about the prayers before the Divine Liturgy, I would appreciate it.