Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Fun Video from the Kids in my Youth Group


So for Valentine's day, I had the kids in my youth group make a fun video that we'd put on a DVD and deliver to some shut-ins. I had them dance to an old song called  HAPPY FEET and also sing a song called BIG HOUSE. I actually wanted two separate tracks but the person with the video camera put it as one but that's okay; I never really told her how I wanted it done.

Anyway, the kids had fun and the shut-ins got this video plus a  Book of Hearts.  I love it when kids spread love around!

Enjoy the video and let me know what you think.

(By the way, the sign the kid is holding in the beginning of the video says: "This will be the last face you see in this video"....and then later a sign says, "For now on, all you will see is HAPPY FEET" I told you this because it is hard to see the sign on the small Youtube screen)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Doing the Ole "Crossing Yourself Fake Out"

Me, demonstrating how to the the "Crossing yourself Fake Out"

Okay, I'm embarrassed. I don't think anyone noticed and maybe this has happened to you. In the beginning of Vespers on my 87th time at my Orthodox Parish,  right when we were chanting the 104th Psalm, I guess my mind was drifting a bit and I thought we were coming up to the Trinitarian invocation within the Psalm and I started to cross myself. I realized, as my hand was already on my forehead that it wasn't really the right time for that so....I pretended to scratch my head.  Man, what a blockhead I am! I did smile at myself at all the ways the Lord makes sure I remain humble.

I guess this brings up a point that I have almost forgotten and what first attracted me to Orthodoxy: 
I really shouldn't worry about what others might think about me at Vespers because, frankly, I am supposed to be there to worship God. That should be my primary focus. I am sure the Lord wasn't upset that I crossed myself and probably, the more I put the sign of the cross on myself, the better!  And really one of the great things about Vespers is we are all worshiping together, each as the individual that God made us.  Unity in Diversity. Let me explain: When I went to a pentacostal church almost everyone raised their hands when they worshiped. In fact, if you raised your hands a lot, you were really holy.  At Vespers, there is a part where we chant a Psalm that mentions lifting up your hands and , some do so. Also, I noticed last night that during the recitation of the Lord's Prayer, a reader, whom I don't know, but he was robed as a reader, raised his hands the entire time we were praying the Lord's prayer.  That was how he was moved. It didn't draw attention to himself and he was "being himself before the Lord," even though no one else was praying like that at the time. I guess he understood that he was there to worship the Lord.  So, if I cross myself when no one else is and, if I do it because I feel moved to do so, then so be it! I shouldn't be so self-conscience.

Speaking of self-conscience, when I arrive late to Vespers (which, sadly, I sometimes do), I do not go around and venerate all the Icons but just slink into my seat and stand there, trying to enter into worship.  Others, who arrive late will make the rounds to icons before walking to their seat. My question is, when is it not appropriate to go up and light a candle or venerate an icon during the service? It's obvious to me you shouldn't do it during the homily. What other times are considered rude? Maybe someday, when I am not so self-conscience, and if I arrive late, I will venerate the icons anyway before joining the others in worship.

Please keep me in prayer.  A couple of weeks ago the nominating committee of my protestant parish nominated me for several leadership positions in the church. Since I don't believe it is the right time to go "Full on" Orthodox because I want to maintain the unity of my family, I wonder if I should take those positions. The only problem is, doctrinally, I am leaning east...basically, I feel like I am caught between two worlds. Not being able to leave Protestantism yet not really able to embrace it. So, pray for me in my confusion.

In the meantime, I will continue crossing myself whenever the Spirit moves me!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Venerating relics on my 86th Visit better than seeing The Declaration of Independence!

Declaration of Indepence
An American Relic~ Great, but no comparison to a Holy Relic!
photo by Flickr user, Robert of Fairfax, used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos at:
Man, it's been forever since I was able to attend Vespers; all the way back to January 13 but it is so great to be back!  I was especially moved during the intercessions, feeling a special connection to all the Saints praying with me.  What a privilege  it is to join in the Heavenly Worship Service already in progress, knowing when Vespers is over for the evening, the Worship is still going on. May, by the Grace of God, I be among the Saints always, praising the Holy Trinity with them!

I have always been a history buff. I remember when our family went to Washington DC and we stood in a long line to see the original document of the Declaration of Independence. When it was finally our turn to view this founding document, I remember feeling a sense of awe that I was in the presence of the actual paper that encapsulated the ideas and thoughts of our American Revolution.  I wanted to stay there and look for hours I wanted to touch the document and look for the famous signatures of forefathers. But, instead, the security guard, gently but firmly, moved us all along. After all, there were plenty of more who wanted a look-see. It was like that last night at Church.

I was in the presence of a relic of St. Haralambos. At first, I could not figure out who the person was in the Icon that was on the table in the center of the nave.  Then, when the Hymns were sung, mentioning him by name, I knew. And then when those hymns mentioned his great exploits, I knew he was a martyr, I also knew the name because we mentioned him at ever Liturgy.  And I must confess, before that,I had no idea who he was or why he was mentioned every time.  It turns out that our parish has a relic of St Haralambos so he is dear to the parish.  Knowing that, I understood what the box was next to the Icon (I had no idea until Fr Gary explained in the Homily).  And then when Fr Gary preached on his exploits, I rejoiced that God has provided His Church with Saints to lead us to Christ.

Having heard about St. Haralambos, how he was tortured so much and yet remained alive and how that earned him the nickname among his enemies, "The man who would not die" and having heard how he led many to Christ while in prison and how even his would be executioners converted to Christ, seeing the Grace of God in Him - Well, hearing all of this will make our prayers at the Liturgy so much more meaningful! When we ask him for his intercessions, I will know about his mighty deeds and know that, by his obedience and holiness  he has the ear of God. I think I shall have to ask for Haralambos prayers much more than I do.

St. Haralambos, pray for us!