Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My First Forgiveness Sunday Vespers and How God Tricked me into Fasting!

Nothing says Forgiveness like a hug
photo by St Peter's Theological Academy,
used under the creative commons license

I have been attending an Orthodox Church for six years now and, until last Sunday, I have never been to a FORGIVENESS SUNDAY VESPERS. To be sure, I was reluctant in the past because, although I've been at my parish half a decade, I really hadn't formed close ties with a lot of them until recently -attending the DEACON DISCUSSION group helped in that regard - and the thought of kissing a bunch of strangers while I bowed downed before them,  asking their forgiveness, didn't sit too well with me. It would feel...awkward.  But, this year I felt emboldened to go.

My parish cheats because, although it is a Vesper's service (which should be in the evening,) Fr. Gary holds the service immediately after Divine Liturgy. I can tell you singing, Now that we have come to the setting of the sun,... before I've even eaten my lunch is a bit disconcerting. But, Fr. Gary believes that he will get more participation if he holds the service after the Liturgy. Many in our parish are older and traveling at night is difficult for them so I'd say Fr. Gary made a good call.

The service was beautiful! I admit, I was struck with all the humility being shown in offering and receiving forgiveness from each other.  It was hard not to "choke up" as the process continued. Okay, I was crying but I tried really hard to fight it! It was especially a blessing to bow before my friend Marko, who, besides being a good Facebook friend, is also someone I especially like talking to in person. His humility when discussing the faith is an example to me. I threw in a bear hug with him at no extra charge!

But I wouldn't be me if I didn't have an awkward moment.  As we progressed down the line of forgiveness, I stood before TJ, the altar server who looks to be around 8 years old. Me, being the adult, TJ waited for me to start so I said, "Hey, kid, forgive me," and then kinda waved at him. Years in my protestant parish as a children's worker and all the training they give you that you NEVER touch a kid, kicked in. TJ stared back at me like I was nuts and he would be right! I gratefully moved on to the next person.  Maybe next year, I'll be less awkward. :)

TJ leading the Trisagion Prayer during a Vespers Service
Forgiveness Sunday is a precursor to Clean Monday and that is the day for total fasting. Now, normally, that would be a very difficult thing for me to do. Not eat anything all day, are you nuts? But weeks ago I had scheduled a very overdue colonoscopy for Tuesday February 28th which meant that the day before, Monday, I would not allowed to eat anything (except for a horrid concoction made by the devil himself- those of you who have had a colonoscopy will know what I am talking about,)  It wasn't until a few days ago that I realized that my preparation for the procedure would fall on Clean Monday. So, even though I really wouldn't have considered a total fast for that day, God made sure I'd fast anyway. Well, played, my Lord! 

That being said, I hope to participate in the Lenten Fast so that Pascha will be especially blessed!  I am glad I started out this Great Lent with Forgiveness Sunday and may God grant us all a time of Spiritual growth as we journey towards Christ's Resurrection.

Forgive me, a sinner! 


  1. God Forgives All!
    TJ is 9 going on 90! He's his father's son, so those looks are a normal occurrence. LOL He saves the eye rolls for me.

  2. Well that's a relief:)
    I'm glad TJ looks at everyone that way. :)