Sunday, May 11, 2014

Visit #135 - Enjoying the Troubled Waters at Divine Liturgy!

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No need to wait for the Waters to be Troubled!
Christ is in our Midst, offering His Healing!
One great thing about attending Divine Liturgy after having gone to Vespers the night before is that I get to experience the theme of the weekend. Fr. Gary gave a hint of the Gospel reading the night before at Vespers but today, during Diving Liturgy, we got a full explanation of the story of the lame man healed by the troubled waters.  The Church has so much to offer if we avail ourselves of her treasures.

As I said in the last post, I had decided to go to Divine Liturgy today because I usually go to my protestant parish with my wife but she was out of town visiting our daughter.  I arrived a few minutes before 10am and Reader John was standing praying the hours.  The faithful were sitting, some were chatting with each other (I guess they should have done that in the narthex) and there seemed to be a spirit of real joy. People were wishing each other a Happy Mother's Day and I could sense a real love among these people.  They shall know you are My Disciples by your love, so says our Lord.  

I took a seat in the back and an older lady sat next to me. She was very pleasant and, from time to time, she would say something, in a low voice so no one else could hear, to the women next to her.  She seemed very happy to be in the Church, surrounded by the people she loved.  At one point, she stood up, along with everyone else, and almost fell. The lady next to her and myself helped steady her.  She smiled at me and laughed at her own clumsiness.  I like people who can laugh at themselves and don't take themselves too seriously.  Such humility is Kingdom worthy! At one point, the lady leans into me as asks, Do you sing in the choir? as she pointed to the loft above us where the choir was singing.  I said, no and she returned with Well, you should.  I smiled, shook my head and waved it off and we went back to singing. I guess I have a pleasant voice, certainly not solo worthy but good enough to be lost in a choir. I wonder, are non-Orthodox allowed to sing in the choir or is that just for the Faithful?

The homily was a more in-depth look at the Gospel reading which Fr. Gary touched upon in the Vesper's homily.  The man who waited for the waters to be troubled by the Angel hadn't expected to be healed in any other way, yet Jesus changed his way of thinking by healing him.  The homily went on for a little under 15 minutes yet I felt more feed by Fr. Gary's Gospel explanation than I would of felt from a longer sermon from any protestant, including my own protestant parish. No offense to my Pastor; he is a holy man who knows the Bible well but he doesn't have 2000 years of Holy Tradition to draw upon.

It is always a struggle for me to "pay attention" during Divine Services. My mind seems to want to race then. I guess I could blame the demons but the blame is more properly placed on my own undisciplined mind. As much of a struggle as it is, I do fight to stay focused upon God and, when I struggle through, I feel like I am participating in Worship with the Heavenly Hosts, both Saints and Angels. It's work but it's work worth doing.

Towards the end of communion, the lady next to me asked those around her if they were going up to receive. They said  no and she started walking towards the communion line and joked, It's free! As if that were the only reason she was going up to receive. I strongly suspect it meant much more to her than that! ☺ As she was progressing through the line, Daria came back and gave me some of the blessed bread and then immediately wished a Happy Mother's Day to the other ladies next to me. When my chatty neighbor returned to her seat she offered me some blessed bread, as well.  I took one and she said, Take more, so I did. Later on, my neighbor asked me if I were a visitor and I told her I was a protestant who usually just went to the Saturday night Vespers. I'm not sure she heard me but she smiled. 

After the service concluded, Fr. Gary made some announcements about the Ethnic Fair during the summer and a missions trip to Mexico.  Also, he read off a list of names of people whose birthdays were being celebrated and we sang Many Years! We also sang Many Years for Bishop Michael who was celebrating 4 years in the Episcopacy.  As is the custom, the Faithful lined up to venerate the Cross before they left for the day. Two lines formed. One side of the Nave where Fr. Gary held a Cross to venerate and on the other side, Fr. Sergious, the retired priest who is assigned to our parish. I was in Fr. Sergious's line.  Before I approached the Cross he was holding, I noticed that Tami was in the other line and she gave me a warm smile. It was now my turn to venerate the Cross.  Fr. Sergious declared Christ is Risen, and I replied with Truly, He is Risen and went to kiss his hand but he moved the cross up so I'd kiss it first.  Oh, yeah! That's right. You kiss the Cross first and then the Priest's hands.  I still feel like such a novice after all these years.  Fr. Sergious said he was very glad that I could come today and I can say that I agree with him.

I wanted to stay for coffee hour but I needed to jet out of there because I had dropped off my son at the protestant church and he needed a ride.  As I drove there I kept thinking that I really felt like I went to Church, a full feeling, where I participated in true worship.  I know they try at my protestant parish but, really, it is not the same.  I am glad I went today.

Your prayers, my brothers and  sisters...


  1. tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, the time is coming my friend.

    James Patrick

  2. Jim

    I am glad to see the blog is still going! You are in my prayers. It is my hope that we will be brothers in the Orthodox faith.

  3. thanks, Kirk, I appreciate the prayers and friendship!

  4. I am glad you were able to make it to a Liturgy service. That feeling doesn't have to end, you know. We all have different struggles reaching Orthodoxy. And imagine the message it would send about how much you truly believe in the Faith when you make the decision to be baptised! There are a couple men in our church whose wives are still protestant. They just needed to Commune so badly. We also had several women whose husbands were not Orthodox. One has converted and another is becoming more curious. When you make a clear decision, your belief will hold more ground.
    I hope that made sense. In our homily this week, Fr. Jonah quoted about being "luke warm" and I am doing a lot of inner rebuilding. Including increasing my prayers for you.
    In Christ,
    Lavenna Ambrosia

  5. Lavenna,
    thank you so much for your prayers. I am glad to hear of your inner rebuilding. By your prayers, I hope to enter into the Church!