I'm sick.... by ~isatatoku on deviantART
I think Fr. Gary was sick last night. No, we didn't have a "replacement priest" lead us in Vespers. Fr. Gary was there but he was lightly coughing during liturgy and at two points, he made mistakes in the liturgy, small verbal stumbling . That is something he never does so I am thinking he was fighting a head cold. And I can tell you from personal experience, when you have a head cold, sometimes your brain gets foggy.
Now I know what some of my evangelical friends are thinking. How do you know he was sick? After all, Orthodox never smile during Worship so his face really wouldn't reveal how he was feeling. :)
There is actually some truth to that. Had Fr Gary not made those "mistakes," I never would have known how he is feeling. I know in my protestant parish, if our pastor was under the weather but still leading us in worship, he would apologize for not feeling well and ask for our prayers, even as he led the service. Of course it is not a bad thing to ask for prayers nor am I saying that someone should "pretend" to be well when they aren't. I am just saying that this shows a difference in emphasis between the protestants and the Orthodox.
In Orthodoxy, the liturgy doesn't really allow for personal interjections during the service. It's all God focused and the business of the liturgy is to worship the Trinity. There is less of a structure in evangelical worship so, consequently there is room for any rambling musings that might come to the pastor's mind. One of those musings may be, Hey, I'm sick; please pray for me! But when you are leading in Great Vespers and, perhaps, you don't feel well, you soldier on. Why? Because the Church has gathered, with Saints and Angels in attendance, to offer God-pleasing Worship. And we are called to pay attention, subjecting our thoughts and will to God, as we sing Psalms of Praise. Perhaps we aren't feeling one hundred percent well. Never the mind, we try to remain focused.
The Show must go on.
But, of course, it's not really a show. It's what we were created for - to be in Communion with God through Christ. It is one of the things that draws me to Orthodoxy. It is serious business to Worship Christ so just like when I may not feel totally great but I go to work any way (back when I was employed, that is), so, too, when I have gathered with the Faithful, and if I don't feel well, I do my best to remain attentive. After all, as I have been learning through Orthodoxy all these years, "It's not about me!"
And I am alright with that. As Jesus said, "Whoever loses his life, shall save it."