Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wisdom! Let us Attend...actually paying attention to the Readings!

I don't know about you but my mind sure likes to wander and when I hear Fr. Gary say, "Wisdom, let us attend," what usually happens is my mind doubles down in its wandering. You can blame Satan, you can blame my undiagnoised A.D.D or you can blame no one at all and just chalk it up to being a fallen human. But this time when Fr. Gary said, "Let us attend", I actually listened and I have to tell you, the church is so wise when it comes to putting the readings together.

Today (Tomorrow) is the celebration of the Nativity of John the Forerunner- that's John the Baptist for all you western Christians- and two readings were narrative accounts of barren women. Abraham's wife Sarah, who laughed when she was told she'd be pregnant (since she was an old lady at this point in her life) and Samson's mother, who was told she must not drink any wine since her son was to be a Nazarite, set apart for God.

Fr Gary, in his homily, tied this in with the parents of John the Forerunner who was also a miracle birth. Zachariah and Elizabeth were both old and childless but God gave them a son whose name was to be John. Zachariah didn't believe it so the angel made him deaf and mute until John was born. Fr Gary went on to speak about the comfort you can take in God because he is certain, even in uncertain times.

Another point Fr Gary said was it is not enough to say you are a Christian, your actions have to show it. He left us with the admonition to follow Christ.

This was a fantastic service, one filled with worship (which is always, even when I don't participate) and filled with great counsel to follow the Lord. Again, I hate to keep comparing it to my protestant parish, but the Vesper's simplicity yet intensity is such a contrast to what I experience on Sunday Morning Nazarene Worship. At Vespers, I feel as if I am communing with God and his people.

About ten minutes into the service and grandmother walked in with a young child, a boy, who promptly pulled out his toys from a bag and quietly played while we worshiped. I was struck on how this grandmother would, from time to time, pick up her grandson and while the sign of the cross was being made during Trinitarian Invocations, she would sign the cross on this child. At first, I thought she was just teaching him but I think she was actually covering him with the sign of the Cross, which is all powerful. No, not a magic tailesman but rather a seal of God's Love and Protection on this little one. I was quite moved.

Today was a busy day for me. I spent the afternoon running a Teen Photo Scavenger Hunt for my protestant parish which was a great time - maybe I'll share some photos with y'all - but I am glad I committed to coming to church tonight. It would have been easy to say 'No, I am too tired" but, thankfully, I wasn't. As it turns out, it was the highlight of my day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

North American Saints and a Surprise Guest!

Saturday Night we commemorated the Saints of North America. Fr Gary's homily stuck out to me. First of all, he joked about how the list of saints from America may be small, but the list from New Jersey is even smaller. But he went on to mention how today we are in uncertain times and the saints who came to America, St. Herman, St. Innocent, ect.~ all faced uncertainty and yet they managed to get by. More than get by, really. I guess you can say they thrived!

All of this they did because they never forgot the fundamentals of their faith. That is what Fr Gary called us to do. To remember our faith and, by that, we shall please God.

Jim Martin (his blog is listed on the right, 7 Days till Now) got an early Father's day present. His daughter Tiffany visited Vespers. I hadn't seen her in years and she looks great! Tiffany messaged me on Facebook and asked me particulars about the service,i.e., start times, ect, but told me not to tell "the old man". So, I didn't.

I don't know how many Orthodox services she has been at-I learned later that she went to a Serbian Orthodox Wedding once so at least one time- but I was surprised that she was crossing herself (and in the correct direction!) at every Trinitarian invocation. Most people (including myself) upon their first visit to an Orthodox service just stand there. But Tiffany was crossing herself like a little babushka. I guess, when in Rome....well, maybe I should say when in Constantinople....:)

Tiffany said she liked the service and it wasn't as formal as the other Orthodox service she attended and that made her feel more comfortable. I like that about Orthodoxy. Yes, we worship in the "correct way" but there is room for local custom. That just makes sense!

I know Jim Martin was thrilled to have her there. It was a nice Father's day present!

From time to time I will be posting a podcast. (When Fr Gary saw he, he said I was becoming a media mogul!) I guess I just like the new media, what can I say. Feel free to call the comment line and live any message you like and I will include in the next podcast. (The phone number is on the right). If you don't want me to "broadcast" your message just let me know. Otherwise, it would be cool to get a conversation going via podcast. I know it was podcasts that first started drawing me to Orthodoxy so they hold a special place in my heart.

Here is a link below so you can listen to episode #1!

Thanks for everyone's encouragement!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

my new podcast~ a companion to this blog!

Click below to listen

In my first short 8 minute podcast I talk about what hinders me from converting as I walk my dog Margaret! Take a listen!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Son being witty at Vespers.

Everyone in my family likes to joke. So, it was no surprise when my son Justin, who attended Vespers with me last night, looked at the title of the service book and said, "Great Vespers, as opposed to Not so Great Vespers? Hardy, har har! Well, that got me to thinking about all the different titles that Orthodoxy gives to its services and people:
  • Great and Holy Saturday
  • Your All Holiness, (when addressing the Patriarch)
  • Uncovering of the Holy Relics of Optina Elders. (A Feast Day)
  • Equal to the Apostles Emperor Saint Constantine the Great
So why do the Orthodox gives such "High and Mighty" names? I have to admit that it took some getting used to, this Highfalutin language. But, I realized that Orthodoxy is always trying to help us remember our exalted position as humans. We are in the Image of God and God is always trying to remind of that. Also, when we go to church, we are not going on an afternoon outing to the beach. We are there to Worship the Holy Trinity. I think the use of almost pretentious sounding words helps us remember that God is so much higher than any words can really say. So I am alright with all these fancy words; they help me remember what I am here to actually do!

Speaking of Worship, I really enjoyed it last night, especially Prokeimenon, "The Lord is King, He is robed in Majesty."

I loved the homily from Father Gary. Since it is All Saints day he reminded us that there are no special vocations for sainthood. There are for being a priest. (God calls one man to be a priest and not another). But as far as sainthood goes, that is a call for everyone!

May God, through the prayers of the Saints, help us with that call!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I'm Exhausted!!!!!!

I was in the car driving 18 hours yesterday, picking up my daughter from college...I am still recuperating no Vespers tonight!
Thank God for the safe trip through some bad weather!