Friday, December 14, 2012

Learning about Humility on my 81st Time at an Orthodox Church.

The Nave on St. Herman's Day!
St. Herman's Feast Day was yesterday and I was able to attend the Divine Liturgy. They also had Vespers the night before but my wife and I went to a prayer service at our protestant parish.  I arrived early but instead of waiting in silence, Reader John was leading us in The Hours. I was happy to see my friend Jim Martin standing in the next row and he gave me a "fist pound" as a greeting.  Jim has a special devotion to St. Herman, one of the reasons being his fascination with the beautiful State of Alaska. That is a place I would like to visit someday.

I was especially moved in the beginning of the Liturgy when Fr. Gary turned to the congregation, after some prayers, and said, "Forgive me, my brothers and sisters." There is a humility in such an action which lets me know that we are all in this together.  Fr. Gary may be an ordained priest but he understands that he is a servant.  I know there are other Christian communions who have humble servants in them but what I like about the Orthodox is they write the humility right into the liturgy.  It's hard to be a proud man when you ask an entire congregation to "forgive me" before you serve the Mysteries.

The humble theme carried right over into the homily about St. Herman. He was a humble priest, with soft, compassionate eyes who served the Alaskan people. Such men serve as examples and help put things into perspective. May we all obtain the humility of the Saints who are just mirroring the humility of Christ.

St Herman of Alaska

After the Liturgy, Jim Martin pulled me over to the Icon and said, "Take a close look." I did. He then showed me a helicopter depicted in the Icon.  "This is probably the only Icon in the world that has a helicopter in it." That is probably true. One of my friends from the parish sent me a link which tells the fascinating story of the helicopter and St. Herman.  Take a read; it's worth the time!

The fact that Americans have their own Saints, Herman being one of them, proves to me that Christianity is not a dead religion. The Holy Spirit is still active in His Church.  Not only is that encouraging, it's down right inspiring. May we all advance in humility as we become more like Christ.

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