Monday, July 28, 2014

Hanging out at the Beer Tent at the Ethnic Fair!

Jim Martin at his post
 I had a very relaxing time at the Ethnic Fair at my Parish.  I almost didn't make it there because the road was closed off on the route and there was a detour causing major delays. I almost turned around and just went home. I am glad I made it there, though.  I saw my friend Jim Martin manning the beer tent and I spent some time talking to him and also to other people who came by.

The whole afternoon was very relaxing. We talked about a variety of topics ranging from Church, the Tour de France to music and old-style records. Speaking of music, I liked the music they had playing. A lot of old stuff; I believe I heard, Peter, Paul and Mary and Woody Guthrie. I like that they were very selective with their music, not playing anything from the regular radio because, for the most part, you don't know what kind of lyrics you are going to get!

As the afternoon winded down, I helped clean up and was really enjoying the song "All by Myself," (all the while thinking of the opening scene in Bridget Jones' Diary) but then they turned it off because the music was being shut down and I thought, Man, I was just getting into it!   So, here for your listening enjoyment (and mine) is the entire song:

The food was great! I can't believe the prices. The foot long hot dog was only $3. They also had a gift basket auction. I tried to win a Spa treatment certificate that I was going to give to my wife and also a Thomas Kinkaide painting, but, alas, I lost.

my dinner
So I am really glad I showed up. I got to speak to Fr. Gary, Fr Ken, his son Will. Also Reader John and Jack and I met some new people. A good afternoon it was!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vespers before the Ethnic Fair!

Yesterday's Vespers was, as always, spiritual fulfilling. I say always because even when I am not feeling it, I know that Christ is being glorified and I edified when I attend the Divine Services. When I drove into the parking lot, for my 143rd Visit to my Orthodox Parish, I noticed that everything was set up for the ethnic fair. The chairs, the food tent and the signs were all in place, ready for Sunday's event.  It seemed that Vespers was well attended last evening and I was pleased with that. I have heard that many times people who are involved in ethnic fairs were unable to attend the Divine Liturgy on Sundays because of all the last minute preparations needed to be done. Maybe that would account for the higher attendance.

Fr. Gary made mention of the fair in his homily but not as an advertisement but, rather, as a need for an attitude check. He quoted St. Paul in his passage to the Romans how the strong need to bear up with the failings of the weak. Perhaps, we feel we are among the strong because of our Orthodox faith and those who do not go to Church are the weak. We should be very careful not to sit in judgment on them, saying to ourselves, Well, you guys should be going to Church. Instead, we are to be humble examples for it is only in humility that we grow in Christ.  Fr. Gary went on to say that there will be a lot of visitors and we must keep our attitude of humility.

Well said, Fr. Gary!

God willing, I hope to be at the fair later on today and I will give you a full report! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Visit #142 ~ Scott Pilgrim vs. The Fathers of the 1st Six Ecumenical Councils? Well, not really!

this is my ringtone

I've always been afraid that someday I would forget to turn off the sound on my cellphone and it would ring right in the middle of Vespers.  Happily, I came to the conclusion that I should just leave my cellphone in my car and, thus, helping me to "lay aside all earthly cares" I'd be able to concentrate on worship and not be as distracted as I could be.  Besides, helping me to concentrate, not having my phone go off at Vespers would save me some embarrassment considering I have strange tastes in ringtones.  You can listen to my ringtone above which is from a movie called Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I know at 53 years old I should just have normal ringtones but, hey, I gotta be me! Besides, Scott Pilgrim was a fun movie to watch!

So with my phone safely in my car, I had nothing to worry about. I came into Church early and was happy to see Jim Martin whom I don't get to see all that much. I sat next to him and we did some catching up. It was good to talk to him.  Tami came over to talk to the man sitting behind us and Jim points to me and says to Tami, "So, have you met my heretic friend?" I gotta love Jim; he always makes me laugh. Of course, technically, I am not a heretic because from what I understand to be a heretic, you have to have been a member of the Orthodox Church who now teaches incorrect doctrine. That is not true with me. I guess I'm just an outsider, looking in!

Just before Tami was about to go to the other side of the Nave (because the service was about to begin), all of a sudden the phone starts ringing behind us. I don't remember the ringtone but it was some modern song. Immediately , Jim starts dancing in his seat and Tami, of course, laughs at Jim's antics. Meanwhile, the poor guy behind us (whom I haven't met yet) is frantically trying to turn off his phone. Apparently, he was having trouble finding the right app to shut it down. Finally, he gets it turned off and he is embarrassed.  Jim and I laugh with him, setting him at ease (I hope) and Tami remarks that at least he heard the phone because she remembers that once a phone went off during Divine Liturgy and some older lady, whose phone it was, didn't even know it was ringing. I guess she forgot to turn on her hearing aid.

From the movie, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, where I get my ringtone
I remarked to the man that it could have been much worse. At least, it happened before Vespers started. 

Vespers started and Deacon Alexander began with a "Master, bless," and from there on in, it was all Psalms, hymns and prayers.  I love that, even though, my mind wanders during service, there is always something to pull me back in. I kept thinking about the Saints on the wall and how they are with us, praying for us. I was also moved by the thought, expressed in the hymns, how the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils were praying for us. It's not just that they helped establish correct doctrine but also that they are concerned for our salvation.

Father Gary's homily echoed this thought. He talked about all the troubles in the middle east. No matter what our political views may be, he said, we pray for the Israelis and we pray for the Palestinians. And what we are praying for is their salvation. That is just what Christians do.  It was a very powerful homily - a lot of punch packed into five minutes! 

I wanted to stay and talk after the service and introduce myself to the guy who sat behind Jim and I but I had to leave while it was still daylight. I have been having issues with my headlights. I guess I will be at the mechanics this weekend. 

As a post script, above is the ringtone I use for when  a member of my family calls. I sampled it from a sermon from my protestant pastor who, as you can hear, gets very expressive when he is making a point. In his sermon, he was talking about how we should feel very blessed when we think about the family that God has given to us.  His style is quite the contrast to Fr. Gary who simply explains the Gospel with a bit less theatre. This is not to denigrate my protestant pastor. He has to be himself, as we all do and this is authentically him!