Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Son at Vespers with me!

My son, Justin~a lover of produce, apparently...

I came into Vespers a full ten minutes late but that's because I waited a bit at home because my son Justin decided to go with me to Vespers at the last minute. That's a good reason to be late, I think. We walked in and sat on the left side right behind Jim Martin who turned around and gave Justin one of those "fist bumps" in greeting. He hasn't seen Justin in years! As we stood there I noticed some of the faithful with a service book. I thought that would be helpful for Justin so I went to get him and myself one.

I had thought that I would be uncomfortable crossing myself or bowing, since I don't do any of these practices at home (yet) but I wasn't at all really. I did focus a bit less on worship, only to help my son follow along in the Vespers book but I think to do otherwise would be rude.

At the end of Vespers, Fr Gary announced he had not planned on doing a general confession but changed his mind, mentioning how, even during this festive time of year, we can remember our relationship with God and our sins. So he went back in the Sanctuary and came out with a "hand held" cross and began the service. It used to bother me that, in that service, there is a point where we say "Lord, have mercy" forty times in a row. But I realize, now that is a great time to recall my own sins and ask for forgiveness.

I love the General Confession. It is different from the Roman Catholic idea that only certain sins can be forgiven by a priest. That sits well with my protestant view on Grace. (i.e., available to all and at all times) but I do look forward to an individual confession in the future...sort of. I mean, I certainly don't want to lie to Fr. Gary nor hold anything back -In fact, there is a part of the Confession service that says, if you hold back and try to conceal anything, that is a greater sin - but, even though I know I would benefit from the Sacrament, it is a bit scary.

I asked my son later what he thought of the service and he said, "It's sort of like, Please, God, don't smite me." While Justin got the humility and submission part right, I think it would be more accurate to say, God, Don't let my own sins get the best of me! Sort of like, Pink's song. "Don't let me get me"

For some reason, I wore a bright, orange pull over shirt to Vespers. I was going up to venerate the cross that Fr. Gary was holding. He, of course, said, "Christ is Risen" as he raised the cross for me. I said, "Truly, He is risen" and bent to kiss the cross and his hands. As I did, Fr. Gary said, "That's a very Orange shirt, Jim." I smiled and went back to my seat, venerating a few icons on the way. Justin, who stayed put and Jim, who was back already from veneration, were in their seats. I immediately relayed my story and Jim said, "He said that?" Yep, I replied. I think Fr Gary went up a few notches in Jim's eyes after that.

Sunday, today, Jim is going to his first Divine Liturgy. He asked me about "the Hours" which are prayed right before and we chatted about that a few minutes. May God give him a great experience.

Well, I better get ready for my heterodox Service now....:)


  1. That line is pretty eye-opening in the Confession service, isn't it?

    I've never seen a General Confession - it is not a pan-Orthodox service, at least not in my experience. I'm glad it was profitable.

    I am also glad to hear that your son enjoyed Vespers.

  2. I like the part of the priest's exhortation to "take case lest you leave the Physician unhealed". Anyway, it's great that your son has taken interest in joining you for Vespers. Who knows, perhaps you all can come home together as a family after all.

    As for Confession, I think that much of our trepidation comes from the fact the we tend to lie to ourselves about our own sins, and from our tendency to not believe in God. If we truly internalized the idea that God is all Holy and the idea that He is omniscient, we would be far more afraid of having to actually confess our sins directly to God without the human intermediary. As it is, we often do not actually believe in God, which is why we fear personal, sacramental Confession--because we are ashamed to reveal our hidden weakness, not understanding that it isn't actually hidden from the One Who actually matters.

  3. I'd like to attend one of these Vespers. Any advice for an outsider?

  4. Mimi,
    I was glad my son was there, too. I think it might have been "too different" for him, since he grew up Evangelical ptrotestant

  5. Han, I think you Re right...we can become "practical athiests" in the way we approach life...if we really belived what we say we believe, we'd act differently.

  6. Tiffany,
    two words of advice: remember, no one expects you to do anything. Don't feel like you have to cross yourself, kiss icons, prostrate yourself on the floor, ect....just do what makes you comfortable....and, secondly, when in the service we pray, "o most holy Theotokos (Mary), save us!", please know we are NOT worshipping her, but rather asking her save us by her very effectual prayers...

    Come soon! I won't be there tonight cuz I am going out to a birthday dinner with my sons but JB Martin should be there.