|The Words of Sacred Scripture washed over me |
at the Service of Holy Unction
The Service of Holy Unction which I attended last Wednesday marks the 131st time I attended a Service in my Orthodox parish and it was a marvelous blessing! Protestants talk a lot about the importance of the Bible, but in this particular Orthodox Service I heard more Scripture in one night than I have in six months in my Protestant parish. It was great to stand there and let the Words fill my heart and mind. It felt as if the Words of Sacred Scripture were washing over me, as I stood among the Faithful. It was truly a blessing that I find hard to put into words. I think that the fact that the words are chanted instead of just read, help them connect to my soul. It becomes more than just an academic exercise of listening to the Bible. Instead, the Word of God Himself can touch me as much as my wayward heart will allow.
When I first arrived in the parking lot, I noticed a lot of cars. The last time I saw that many cars it was because an AA meeting was happening at the same time. I had mistakenly thought all of those cars were of worshipers. (You can read about it here) This time, though, it was worshipers and I was glad to see a full Church. I stood right behind Jim Martin and it was good to see him again. We had an exchange on Facebook a few days back in which he remembered the show "Then Came Bronsen" He invited me over to watch some old episodes. I plan on giving him a call sometime after Pascha to set that up!
Fr Gary's homily was short yet right to the point! He said that while many will come up and receive the Holy Oil for healing of their body, that it is more important to have a healing of the soul. What good is it, he asked, if your body is whole, only to sin some more? I confess, I longed to receive some of that oil for myself, both for body and soul. My back has been hurting really bad and I had to sit several times during the service. I also wished I could receive the Oil for my soul's sake, but, alas, I am not (yet) Orthodox, although I pray for it almost daily.
I did notice a subtle difference in what Fr. Gary said after the Scripture Readings. If someone had just chanted a lesson and was in a black robe (because they were a Reader,) he would say, The Lord bless you, reader but if the person was a simple layman, (or lay woman) he would say, The Lord bless you who have read.
It may be a small thing but I like how Orthodoxy wants to get things right. If someone is not a Reader, they should not be called a Reader. Yet, they is room for all to participate in Worship. Liturgy, after all, is the work of the people.
I was a bit late arriving in Church because I had been in my protestant parish, filming a missions minute video.I timed it just right so that I could make the short video and then drive to the Orthodox Service but a stranger off the street walked into the protestant church and started asking questions about the bible studies, ect. Kathleen, (who does the videos) spent some extra time making her feel welcome and invited. That was nice but it made me late for Holy Unction! But I really couldn't complain. Perhaps that lady really needed to connect with my protestant church. I remembered the prayer attributed to St. Philaret...
.In unforseen events let me not forget that all are sent by You.
I certainly didn't want to "waste time" with this lady but I realized that this was one of the unforseen events that made up this very day. I prayed for patience. Here, by the way, is one of the videos I make every week called Missions Minute. Kathleen puts these scripts together and I just film and edit them. I do enjoy making them.
Well, it's late Saturday afternoon and after I wash the dishes and pick up my son from work, I plan to sleep till 10pm. Yes, tonight is the Pascha Vigil and I am looking forward to it! I hope all who read this blog are blessed as they celebrate the Risen Christ who, by His death has conquered death! Although, I have had a horrible lent in terms of any works of fasting and alms giving, I hope that tonight, God, in His mercy, will reveal the Risen Christ to me!