Bells rung during the Gospel Readings...It was cool!
(No, this pic wasn't my parish)
I thought it was so neat that after each Gospel to be read was announced, the bell would ring- one time for each number. So, when we heard Gospel number two, the bell rang twice; Gospel number three and the bell rang three times, ect. The first reading was from John's upper room discourse and, I confess, because it was so long, I was getting easily distracted- not to mention the fact that my feet get tired because of my weight and arthritis. (I don't mean to complain, but I figure I'd be honest on this blog.) To my shame, I remember when Fr. Gary announced that the next reading was from the Gospel of Mark, I thought, O Good, Mark is always short! I of course know it is improper to sit when the Gospel was being read so in between when hymns were sung, I slipped back into the Narthex and just sat on the stairs. I could still hear everything and sat through one Gospel reading. Then, I heard a different sounding song from the choir, only it was a solo from the Choir director, Reader Tim. It sounded beautiful. I sensed something different was going on so I walked back into the Nave.
It was then that I saw everyone on their knees and/or in full prostrations, as Fr. Gary carried a Cross that had been standing in the middle of the Nave. I quickly dropped to my knees. It was so cool the way Fr. Gary carried that Cross around the Nave. When he got to the front and placed the Cross back on the stand, he then put an Icon of our Lord on the Cross.Now that Christ was there, that Icon was included to get incensed when the Icons were incensed during the hymns.
I love how individual expression is always part of Orthodox worship. Even though most people stood during the Gospel reading, I noticed one worshiper with a lit candle who fell to her knees during each reading. We worship together yet we are still ourselves. I confess that as the night wore on, my feet were hurting more so I opted to fall to my knees during the Gospel reading as well. If people thought I was overcome with piety, they would have been mistaken! I just needed to rest my feet! Although, I must admit, that being on my knees did help my sense of reverence and humility.
Even though I have been to Holy Week services in the past, this is my first Great and Holy Thursday. I probably didn't go in the past because I had heard how long the service was and I when I worked for Hostess Cakes, I was up at 4am so I opted for the Wednesday Extreme unction service instead. But since I took off Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was able to attend without having to worry about getting up early.
The good news for Today, Good Friday is my protestant Pastor, Del Beiber will be attending with my this evening. More on that when it happens.
Blessed Holy Week everyone!