Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Falling asleep in Church...No, not me!

Day of Rest
sound asleep in church
photo by Michael Sean Terretta, used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos here:
The 107th time I've walked into an Orthodox Worship Service and it's still great!  I arrived just before 7pm and I heard singing. I thought, Man, I'm not late, why'd did they start without me? As I venerated the icon of Peter and Paul in the Narthex I realized what Fr. Gary was doing was switching the icons on the main table in the nave.He was replacing the old icon (Ascension?) with the new (All Saints!) And. of course, everything done in Orthodoxy is with a song so that is why they were singing.  Moments later Fr. Gary started with "Blessed is the Kingdom....." and I knew Vespers had begun.

I got this real sense of freedom within worship.  People, without drawing attention to themselves, were doing different things: Diversity into Unity!  Some people momentarily raised their hands, some did a deep bow, others were crossing themselves- all at different times, moved by different parts of the service.  How different this was compared to past experiences in different churches. When I was a Pentecostal, they used to measure how spiritual you were by how loud you were. Here, during Vespers, there was none of that going on, just people worshiping individually and yet in unity. That sense of Worship is why I keep coming back!

The grandma with her grandson sat in front of me. You might remember I blogged about her here. The little boy was all excited about lighting the candles and moments later he was sound asleep in the chair.  I remember thinking of kids sleeping in church during revival services during my Pentecostal days (Don't know why I am thinking a lot about that lately) and I remember thinking, wow, these  kids don't know what they are missing! I was referring to the lively preaching of "the Word of God" (as I would have called it in those days.) The Pentecostal preachers made it sound like God was doing a new thing RIGHT NOW in this church and we all better be a part of "God's mighty moving of His Hand." Yes, it was very parochial in it's thinking- God was moving among us and it was implied He wasn't  moving anywhere else.  I thought, These kids who are sleeping in the pews are missing out of God's blessings.  How foolish I was! I thought that God could only bless those who could understand with the intellect.  I am so glad that in Orthodoxy I have learned that Jesus has a blessing for everyone.  Those sleeping in children in the pews at the revival service where under the protection of Christ. And this little boy, asleep during Vespers, enjoys that same protections. At the end of the service, when we were all making our rounds to venerate the icons before we exited, Matushka Mary pointed the child out to me and said, "Isn't that precious." I said, "Yes, it is!" He has been sealed with the waters of baptism and bathed in the prayers of his grandmother!

I didn't make it to Peter and Paul Vespers last Friday. I had a planning meeting at my protestant parish. (Yes, I confess, the fact that they had delicious ribs there as well, guided me in my decision to go....Lord, have mercy!) This is what is tough about "being in two worlds." Keep me in your prayers.

Have a blessed day!

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