Monday, August 12, 2013

My Son attends Vespers with me....sort of!

Saturday was busy. My niece and nephew drove down to visit their grandparents (My in-laws) and before my 112th visit to Vespers, I stopped by to say hello (and eat a delicious dinner!) My wife stopped by the house before going to work (she's a transporter at the hospital) and my son Daniel came with her.  So since Karen couldn't drive Daniel home, he had to come with me to Vespers. He said he was okay with that!

Dan the Man
So in the car I give him the "what to expect pep talk," telling him he is not expected to do anything like kiss Icons or do prostrations or cross himself~ basically, people are there to worship the Trinity and aren't taking time to look around to see what other people are doing. I warned him about the incense, about how people will light candles during the intercessions. I did all this in under two minutes....and it turned out to be a wasted talk! You'll see why.

We stop by the Narthex to grab a service book and take our place among the faithful.  Wait! There is no Fr. Gary! There is no one up front at all, leading us in prayers. Instead, the choir are singing hymns and the book we are following is somewhat useless since we are skipping all the intercessions that are usually led by a priest (or deacon) Apparently, Fr. Gary was still on vacation and couldn't get anyone to "fill in" so we were experiencing is a Reader's service.  

I was bummed because I wanted Daniel to smell the incense and to see all the beauty that is a Vespers service. But, perhaps, he will come again.  Later my wife asked how Daniel liked the service. I explained, "Well, with Fr. Gary being gone, it was almost as plain  as a Baptist service." She said, "yeah, right." One thing that is nice about  a reader's service is that the prayers aren't "read" but rather "sung" just like everything else in Orthodoxy so it really was still very beautiful.  The whole service lasted only a half-hour and we had arrived ten minutes late as it was so Daniel had a twenty minute introduction to Orthodoxy. Maybe, going to a reader's service is less shocking than a full blown Vespers service. It certainly is more "visitor friendly" than a Divine Liturgy.  

So my question is, was that Reader's service still Vespers or is it called something else?

As an aside, when I went to visit my niece, I showed her a youtube video of 8mm film that I converted to digital format. It is her as a baby, with her now deceased mother and me as a young man with my wife!
Take a look if you like:


  1. What a blessing that Dan was able to attend - he's a handsome young man indeed.
    In my experience, they are either called a "Reader's Service" or "Reader's Vespers" - I remember once when I was fairly newly Orthodox, the priest forgot his stole*, and he can't serve without it, so we did a Reader's Service instead of Liturgy.
    One thing that I contemplate is that in places where priests are rare (such as in Alaska or during Sovet times) the people will gather for Reader's services, and the priest will come in every so often, and have a whirlwind of marriages, baptisms, confessions, liturgy, and burials. That faith humbles me.

    (*I think it is his stole, whatever he forgot from his vestments, a priest can't serve without it)

  2. It was the stole:

  3. Mimi,
    I love that the faith lives on, even when a priest isn't always available. I am humbled by the faith of those Orthodox Christians who suffered under communist rule. They kept the Faith alive!

  4. Oh, thanks for saying Dan is handsome....he, thankfully takes after his mother ☺