Monday, June 24, 2013

Getting Pentecostal!

Altar Call
Typical Pentecostal Worship ~ emotional, sincere and spontaneous
photo by Richard Masoner, used under the creative commons license.
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Saturday was the 106th time I was at an Orthodox Service - we celebrated the feast of Pentecost. I like how the Orthodox follow the Jewish tradition of the day starting the night before. So Vespers on Saturday night was the beginning of the Pentecost Feast.  For ten years, back when I was a young man, I was indeed a member of the Pentecostal church, specifically the Assemblies of God denomination. I am grateful for those years because it was there that I learned the Scriptures.  This knowledge makes Orthodox worship so much more fulfilling because, despite what anyone might say, Orthodoxy is chock full of the Bible. So the worship was very familiar to me from the beginning, if not in style at least in content.

Fr. Gary's homily was great. He talked about how since we have "been saved" it is our responsibility to tell others about Jesus.  I almost thought I was at an evangelical church to hear him use the phrase "being saved" and "preaching the Gospel" to others.  This is one of the hallmarks of evangelical Christianity but, of course, the Orthodox had it first.  I love Fr. Gary's homilies.   They are simple, short, humbly delivered and yet he always talks about Christ.  I don't have to listen to a bunch of stories to "get the point across." I have, in the past, listened to sermons from others who told memorable stories but I couldn't remember the Bible verse they were preaching about.  Fr. Gary manages to stay focused on Christ and how we can know Him better.

For some reason I started thinking about clocks. In protestant churches, there is usually a clock in the back of the church. This way, the preacher will know when to shut up.  Orthodoxy, I suppose doesn't care about clocks on the wall (at least in our parish- I don't know if other Orthodox Churches have clocks.) I guess Orthodox Churches have the same philosophy as casinos, which also have no clocks on the walls. Casinos want you to "get lost in gambling" and not worry about the outside world. For them, the more you lose yourself to gambling, the more money they make. For Orthodoxy, we are to "lay aside all earthly cares" and concentrate on worshiping the Life-giving Trinity.  Who cares what time it is? Even when the Orthodox are done they are not done. "Let us complete our evening prayer to the Lord," is followed by 20 more minutes of prayer. Hey, that's okay.  It's a good idea to get "lost in worship" and not worry about the time. It seems appropriate on the Feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit is given to the Church, that we only concern ourselves with Worship.  That's good practice for eternity.

Hope everyone had a blessed Feast day.  I did, even if it was only participation in the Vespers service.  We did have Litya and that is always special.  Matushka Mary joked with us,saying now that Jim Martin (now known as Patrick) is Orthodox, he doesn't need her to give him bread anymore so he doesn't talk to her.  I had to rush out of there to pick up my son from work. Hopefully, I will be able to attend Vespers on Friday which is for the feast of Peter and Paul. If so, I'll be sure to blog about it.

Thanks for reading.

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