This weekend was a pretty eventful one. Friday my friend Andrew drove up from Caruthersville to stay the night. I even took him on my last delivery of the night. Then we stayed up medium-late playing video games and visiting. Andrew's one of the deepest, most thoughtful high school kids I know.
Saturday we cleaned out the car, said good-bye to Andrew, loaded up the family and drove to St. Louis. We attended Vespers at All Saints of North America Antiochian Orthodox Church. After Vespers we went to a short get-together of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship for the St. Louis area.
Then, we drove to Madison to stay with the Huniaks. This time, their son, Phil, was there. I have heard of Phil. He's a pretty tough marine who no longer attends an Orthodox Church, but attends an Assembly of God church. He is definitely in love with Jesus, and on fire for the Lord. We talked at length about his own journey out of Orthodoxy and the parallels with my journey into Orthodoxy. It was pretty interesting. One thing is for sure, Phil could teach us all about humility, and submission to Christ. That was refreshing.
Sunday we went to Liturgy at Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which has been our usual parish for about two months now.
After liturgy we all went next door to the parish hall for a Cheesefare Sunday meatless egg and dairy meal. It was yummy.
The Forgiveness Vespers, which directly followed the brunch, were an interesting experience.
For those of you who don't know, Forgiveness Vespers begins Great and Holy Lent in the Orthodox Church. About midway through the service, the altar servers came out and switched the paraments to purple. The melodies to the chants all changed to Lenten ones, then the whole congregation began making prostrations. At this point I was about crying, struck by the reality of our separation from God. In the Orthodox Church, the altar area, behind the iconostasis symbolizes Paradise and the Garden of Eden. During the prostrations the curtain between the congregation and paradise slowly closed, visibly showing our separation from God.
Next, starting with the priests, the whole congregation went around asking forgiveness of every other member, kissing them on both cheeks.
May God forgive us all.