|Ascending to the Sky!!!|
photo by flickr user, Bee Chalmers
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I arrived early but I thought they had started early because instead of encountering silence, I heard reader John chanting a Psalm. Then, I realized that we were praying the hours before the Liturgy. One thing I love about Orthodox Worship is worship happens all the time. One service can run into the next service. That's a good thing because it will get me ready for heaven where worship happens all the time.☺
Fr. Gary's homily talked about how we, in Orthodoxy, are always talking about ascension. Whether it's Jesus rising to the heavens or we lifting up our hearts to the Lord, we have a desire within us to rise to the top. As kids, many of us climbed trees so we could look down upon everything. Yes, when we lift our hearts to the Lord, we are raised with Him!
After communion, Daria handed me a piece of blessed bread which is a great custom to help those of us who are not Orthodox, feel included. After the service, I saw one of the choir members (She was college age and clearly the youngest worshiper of the day!) who asked me to move out of the way. I was blocking some table she wanted to go to. She went there and picked out some ziplock bags and put some of the blessed bread into them. How nice! I guess she was going to share some of that with some absent family members. Speaking of absent, I was sorry Tammy wasn't there. Reader John said, she was working.
Since Orthodox are supposed to fast before they partake of the Holy Mysteries, I guess they always like to have some food after the service. I was able to stay a little while and Fr. Gary sat down next to me. I filled him in on my schooling progress and my TSA application status and he talked a bit about his week. He said he was trying to move an adult study for a week night during the summer but his schedule was pretty full. He mentioned how he had attend a parish council meeting at a parish an hour's drive away. I said, Isn't it enough for you to attend your own parish councils? He joked that he was a Parish Council junkie. Now, that's funny.
Our conversation turned to why I haven't converted yet. I initiated that talk, not Fr. Gary. One thing I like about the Orthodox is they are NOT pushy when it comes to a person's spiritual journey. "Work out your own salvation, etc" I told him I thought it would create a big riff between me and my wife and that I don't think such disunity would be good, considering we do attend church together, albeit, not Orthodox but, still, it is a Trinitarian church with no major heresies . Fr. Gary said, he always counsels people not to make that move to Orthodoxy if would damage a person's marriage like that. In a previous conversation with me, he said, of course, I have to make sure my own salvation isn't "at risk." So, it turns out my caution is something Fr. Gary agrees with. That's not to say, I should settle. I still constantly pray to be received into the Orthodox Church someday but, I don't think it's the right time yet.
Maybe some of you disagree with Fr. Gary. I'd like to hear what you have to say, if you'd like to comment below.
Thanks for reading and Happy Ascension day!