LISTEN TO THIS FIRST!
Fr Gary was on vacation so we had a Reader's Service. The Reader's Service was great, very similar to Great Vespers, except with parts omitted that are exclusively said by Fr. Gary. The choir, though small, sounded powerful! I noticed a new face there - new to me, anyways. He was dressed in black so I guess he was a reader and he had a very deep voice which made the choir sound a bit different that night, but still wonderful. We were led in the prayers by Fr. Deacon Alexander.
Before service, Tami and I had a little chat. I had emailed her before because when I read in the bulletin that Fr. Gary emailed on Thursday, it said he would be away for the weekend. I asked Tami if Vespers was still on for the night. She said, yes but then remarked how, when the priest is away, the attendance is down. That was true enough for tonight's reader's service. In fact, there was no one to serve with Deacon Alexandar and that led to, what is to me, a funny incident.
During Vespers, Fr. Gary comes out and censes all the icons and the people, beginning with the Altar and then proceeding out of the side doors (they are called Deacon's Doors, right?) Well, at the time that Deacon Alexander is censing the Altar, we hear him and then notice he is not coming out of the Sanctuary to cence all of us. Instead, he is only censing the Altar. I could see the puzzlement on Reader John's face, wondering why he was only censing the Altar. Finally, Reader John goes to the door and opens it. Out comes Deacon Alexander with incense in one hand and a large candle in another. Now it was clear enough why Deacon Alexander was staying inside the Sanctuary: He had no one to open the doors for him!
That made me chuckle to myself. Usually, the choir has it timed so that by the time Fr. Gary censes the Icons around the Nave and then, us - it is timed so that the choir finishes with the hymn before Fr. Gary continues with the Prayers. Well, because Deacon Alexander got a "late start," the choir was almost out of "hymns" and there was no way that Deacon Alexander wasn't going to forgo censing all the Icons and us. That would leave an awkward silence as Deacon Alexander completed his task. Cheers to to Tim, the choir director, who, thinking on his feet, had the choir repeat the last few lines of the hymn so that the awkward silence would not happen!
The Service continued. The next time that Deacon Alexander came out of the doors, he only had incense in his hand and had left the candle behind so he was able to negotiate the doors by himself. At the end of the service, Deacon Alexander gave a great homily about the end times, saying every generation believes they are in the end times, including our own. He cited all the troubles in the world. The important thing is to remember that we are to be faithful till the end.
I am very glad I went to service Saturday night and I look forward to next week!