|There's the First Shave and then there's....well, read below!|
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I arrived a bit late because I was having a conversation on Facebook with my son. It was a good conversation where we got to "share each other's heart." We both do better writing than talking so it was good. I picked up a service book in the Narthex. Well, it turns out it said Wednesday so after trying to find my place, I went back out to look for another book. Nothing. I went back to my seat (where I stood, of course- This is an Orthodox Church, after all) and I am ashamed to say I cannot remember the lady's name but she is always very nice to me, asking me how the job search is going. Well, she saw my lost look on my face and handed me her book and went back to stand next to her husband.
After awhile I found my place. Psalm after Psalm after Psalm. I felt like I was at a monastery. At least, when ever I would hear podcasts about monasteries, they would always mentioned how they covered the entire book of Psalms in a week (I think during Great Lent). I had always thought that would bore me. But, it did not! The choir led us in an easy to follow chant and we sailed on through them. I've said it before and I'll say it now: There is so much Scripture in Orthodox worship, it puts us Evangelicals to shame!
It was strange to hear no bells as Fr. Gary incensed the Icons and us. But, that is just to draw our attention to the non-celebratory penitential aspect of Great Lent. And speaking of penitential - Yes, we did prostrations. Last week, I was stuck in the middle aisle with chairs in the way but this time I moved out and did a proper prostration when indicated.
I was really moved during the service. At one point, Fr Gary was chanting about Christ as Victor (if memory serves) and I almost expected Christ Himself to walk out the Royal Doors. It was also very moving when he did the entrance with the Gifts. We were all to prostrate as he did this so I didn't even see Fr Gary process I am wondering, did he leave the Sanctuary with them or would all of the movement been within the Sanctuary? If you know, comment below :)
The most moving part of the service when Fr. Gary chanted in a slow, almost mournful voice, Let my prayer arise and we responded with prostrations. This was truly worship! And I believe it captured what Great Lent is supposed to be: Joyful Sorrow!
We then had a string of intercessions. When it came to the Intercessions of the Catechumens, I remembered Jim Martin, Tiffany and Ben who will be received into the Church on Pascha! I wasn't even offended when Fr. Gary chanted Catechumens, Out! And I didn't even make the joke to myself "I've been thrown out of better places than this," because the truth is, I haven't! :)
After the people received the Gifts, three people came to me and gave me the bread of fellowship. That's a great way to include people who aren't able to receive the Holy Mysteries yet.
Fr. Gary gave a very short homily because he knew that some people have been fasting all day! When I looked at my phone to see the time, I saw that nearly two hours had passed. That didn't bother me but my other son (not the one I chatted with on Facebook) was waiting for me to pick him up from work since the service began so I scooted on out. But before we left, instead of kissing a Cross that Fr Gary was holding, he gave us all some blessed bread. That was very nice!
So this is my first Presanctified Liturgy. Hopefully, it won't be my last!