Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Journey to Orthodoxy, part 1.

My journey to Orthodoxy is not normally considered a journey.  I was born into an Orthodox family, and I was baptized about 40 days after my birth, and I grew up as an altar server, and singing in the church choir, and in general receiving a first-class youth of instruction in practical Orthodoxy.  I learned how to be a reader, and I learned chanting in the Greek, Antiochian, and Russian styles.

But in college, as is often typical, I fell away from the Church.  I stopped going to Liturgy regularly, and I was only an occasional churchgoer.  I attended church regularly when I was at home with my parents, but I had never been someone who didn't have a job in church.  I had never known how to worship without something to do.

And so for a long time I was C and E (Christmas and Easter).  And when I moved to Jackson, Mississippi, after law school, I began attending Holy Trinity and St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church.  In contrast to the stereotype of old Greek parishes, I found a welcoming community struggling through the change from being a city church with a city congregation to being a city church with a suburban congregation.   Eventually, the church had to move away from its historic location on West Capitol Street to its new home in Ridgeland, and I pray God that they are doing well there.

After I moved to Hattiesburg, I again lapsed.

Forgive me, but I will continue later.  It's time to listen to two sociopaths lie to the country again.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vespers, an appreciation

Fr. Lawrence gives a concise explanation of the historical importance of vespers.  I have been privileged over the years to serve vespers at our mission in Hattiesburg.  This week we have Divine Liturgy on Saturday, and Vespers Friday night.  I look forward to vespers, especially now that we have more regular attendees.

Vespers is the reminder of the Old Testament services in the temple.  It provides us a vital link to the Holy Fathers of the Old Testament, and in particular to the Jewish priesthood.  All Orthodox Christians are put into the priesthood now, and symbolically and mystically serve God in our collective worship.  As St. Basil's anaphora prayer says, "He procured us for Himself as a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation."  

The Vespers service is a reminder of the closed priesthood of blood and descent of the Old Testament, and mystically calls us to service in the royal priesthood of Christ, who is High Priest forever, in the words of the entrance prayer from the Christmas liturgy:  "Out of the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee. The Lord has sworn, and will not change His mind: "Thou art a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."

Vespers begins the liturgical day, and announces to us the story of the saint we commemorate throughout the day.  It is educational and pedagogical, and an excellent preparation for the coming liturgy.