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:
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!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!