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.

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