A tough day at work didn't keep me away from Vespers last night. (The week before was another story. My wife had been away and I hadn't seen her really all week so I stayed home.) So even though I was a bit tired, I showered, got dressed and drove to Church. When I got there, I looked for Jim Martin's motorcycle and didn't see it. Well, I thought, I guess he couldn't make it tonight. I then thought about how he had recently gotten a job again so I thought, well, maybe, it was work commitments.
As I took my place towards the back- yes, I was a bit late and Fr Gary was 3 minutes into the Vespers Service already- I started thinking about a sermon I heard from Fr. Josiah Trenham from The Arena podcast. He had preached on how we are members of the Body of Christ and when one of us is missing from worship, we feel it. At that moment, thinking Jim (and now also his daughter Tiffany) wasn't there, I felt it. When we gather to Worship God, we do it together and when one of us is missing, it really does feel like something is not right. I then wondered if the same was felt about my absence last week. I hope so. I don't think it is egotistical to think that. It's just that we truly are part of One body and "we are all in this together."
So I refocused on Worship and started chanting the Psalms with the choir. It is a great thing to pay attention to the words as we worship. One thing I like about Orthodox Worship is it is not an appeal to the emotions. At my protestant parish (and to a much larger extent at my old pentacostal Church), songs are selected that appeal to "feelings" and my own pastor is subject to emotional elucidations - certainly nothing too wild but I believe he feels that if such emotions are expressed (and he is a very shy man) then "truly we met with God." Perhaps. But I like hearing the Psalms chanted and I find that the Orthodox way does not focus on how I am feeling at all. And that is good because sometimes I feel horrible!
So all of this worship going on and I glance a couple of rows up from me and I notice a man with a women standing right next to him. She is wearing a scarf on her head and I figure it's just another Russian worshiping at Vespers. Only it isn't! Upon closer inspection, I realize it is Tiffany and standing next to her is Jim. I couldn't believe it. Tiffany surprised me the first time she was there she was crossing herself and now, weeks later, she is wearing a scarf just like they do "in the old country."
Later on, when Fr Ken was in the back greeting everyone I overheard him say to Tiffany, "Every time I see you, you look more Orthodox." Tiffany asked me to take a picture of her and her father because she was going to send it to a friend who she is trying to convince to come to Vespers with her. She readjusted her scarf; I took the picture.
I also asked Fr Ken about his son Bill who turned 18 that very day. He was home with guests at a pool party. Since we had experienced a big storm during vespers that evening, he was hoping they had enough sense to get out of the pool. I am sure they did!
As I was leaving to pick up my son from work, Jim, kidding me, called me a "Nazodox" ( Half Nazarene- Half Orthodox) I said, "I don't think I like that very much! "Well", he said, "You should do something about that."
Yes, I should!