Author Topic: Roving liturgy report  (Read 4649 times)

Dave Benke

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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2019, 08:55:39 AM »
On a more ecumenical note, I would say that the Roman Catholic mass attendance, which has suffered very seriously in the past several decades on a weekly basis, is given hope and an offset at Christmas and Easter.  I know they have a ticket lottery to get into the Christmas Eve and Day masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral.  That's how oversubscribed those masses are.  And in the neighborhood parishes, I think the attendance is also high.  In other words, the Catholics are still out there and they consider themselves Catholics. 

Dave Benke

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Roving liturgy report - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2019, 09:25:11 AM »
First, some prefaces:

1)  This was my sixth full Christmas cycle in the Orthodox Church, but only my second exclusively at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation where I am the Tritos Psalti (Third Chanter) and a sort of volunteer Pastoral assistant while awaiting Ordination to the Diaconate.

2)  The midpoint of the Nativity Fast was marred--not marked--by my wife, Jan (Phoetini) falling down a single step at a friends' house and fracturing both ankles so severely that extensive reconstructive surgery was required on December 16.   With only being able to use her left leg for transferring from one seat to another mobility has been very restricted; going anywhere by car major effort, and going anywhere requiring the wheelchair to be transported in the car almost unheard of.

Except that her Christmas hope--and my Christmas wish--was that she could get to just one Christmas service.

That wish was granted.

And with that as background--service by service:

Royal Hours - 8:00 AM December 24

The Royal Hours are the Psalms, Hymns, and Prayers of the First, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hour melded into one service, albeit in four sections, which altogether has 12 Psalms, 4 Old Testament Readings, 4 Epistles, and 4 Gospels.  The Gospels are arranged so that at the Third Hour (on which normally the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is commemorated) the Luke 2 passage containing "Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth" is read; similarly, at the Ninth Hour at which Christ's death and burial are recalled the Gospel is from Matthew 1 concerning the slaughter of the innocents on the order of Herod.

The Ninth Hour also contains this Idiomelon which follows the same pattern of melody and words as one used at the identical place at the Royal Hours of Good Friday:

+   Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdest all creation in the hollow of His hand.
+   He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe.
+   The God Who from of old established the heavens lieth in a manger.
+   He Who showered the people with manna in the wilderness feedeth on milk from the breasts.
+   And the bridegroom of the Church calleth the Magi.
+   And the Son of the Virgin accepteth gifts from them.
+   We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.
+   Show us also Thy divine Theophany.

Because there was no other Cantor, it was my great privilege to be able--for the first time--to alternate these verses with my Priest.

It was the best attended Royal Hours I had experienced at Annunciation.   Last year it was only the Defteros Psaliti and my adult son--this year there were six other parishioners.

Christmas Eve Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil - 6:00 PM December 24

We began the process of getting Jan to the car at 4:50--she was seated as comfortably as possible in her wheelchair with another chair for leg propping by 5:30.   She was seated, of necessity, in the very spot which had been occupied by the wheelchair bound matriarch of the congregation, who reposed three years ago at the age of 103.

The Proto Psalti did arrive for this service...albeit after the opening Psalm.   He is old enough to be my father.   Despite many differences--he is first-generation immigrant, I am primarily ninth generation Swiss German; he can barely read any English, I can slowly make my way through Koine Greek; he can read the Arabic script-like Byzantine notation but not Western staff, I am just the opposite--we get along quite well and have learned from each other.

And one such learning occurred that night.   

I had learned that Father Andrew would bring the Chalice to Jan last, and I knew that the Altar Boys were aware of that departure from normal procedure.  But Psalti Nick did not know that, nor was there any opportunity to explain that.

So, during the Communion distribution he sang the default People's Communion Hymn "Receive me today, O Son of God"  in very slow, florid, papadic (melismatic) style...but even so, when he had finished, there were still many waiting to Commune, for the church was nearly as full as at Pascha.

I began to intone the canticle "God is With Us" from Great Compline, because many of its verses are taken directly from Isaiah 9, which is the second of three Prophecies read in this Liturgy.

Quote

God is with us, know it you nations and be submissive,

For God is with us.

Hear it to the ends of the earth.

For God is with us.

You mighty shall be defeated.

For God is with us.

Even if you should prevail, again you will be defeated,

For God is with us.

Whatever plan you conceive, the Lord will destroy,

For God is with us.

Whatever word you shall speak shall not abide among you,

For God is with us.

Your terror we shall never fear, nor be disturbed by it,

For God is with us.

The Lord, our God, him shall we bless, and only him do we fear.

For God is with us.

And if I trust in him, it shall be a blessing to me,

For God is with us.

And I shall trust in him, and shall, be saved by him,

For God is with us.

Lo, I and the children which God has given to me,

For God is with us.

The people that walked in darkness saw a great light,

For God is with us.

Upon us, who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, a light shall shine,

For God is with us.

For a Child was born unto us, a Son, and was given to us,

For God is with us.

Whose government is upon his shoulder,

For God is with us.

And of his peace, there shall be no boundary,

For God is with us.

And his name shall be called: Messenger of the Divine Will,

For God is with us.

Wonderful Counselor,

For God is with us.

Mighty God, Master, Prince of Peace,

For God is with us.

Father of the age to come,

For God is with us.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

For God is with us.

Now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

For God is with us.

God is with us, know it you nations and be submissive,

For God is with us.


As the Communion line dwindled Psalti Nick began signalling me to stop...but I shook my head and continued until Jan's Communion had been completed...then ended at the "just in time moment" before the Priest's acclamation "Save Your people and bless Your inheritance".

Immediately after the Liturgy the children of the Sunday School--about 35 or so--presented a costumed pageant, all mute acting interspersed by an adult narrator and the first verse (only) of five Western Christmas Carols.

Then and only then the dismissal of the faithful with the Antidoron, during which I resumed the chanting of "God is With Us".

Meanwhile, just a few feet away from me Jan was being gently bombarded by folks wishing her well, assuring her of prayers for a complete recovery, and even tangible expressions of kindness including home baked Greek pastries and other foods suited to the dawning Feast.

I am told that in the not so distant past this congregation could be cold if not almost hostile to visitors, especially those who were not Greek--even the spouses of "cradle" Greeks.

What happened this night was truly a Christmas miracle on a multitude of levels.

+ + +

I did not fully appreciate the magnitude of that gift until after returning home.

During the Liturgy I could feel my cell phone vibrate and of course simply allowed it to roll into voice mail.  After the dismissal I saw that the missed call was from our County 911 center.   Having served as a volunteer Police Chaplain for three dozen years I knew that meant that something bad had happened, especially since I had called out of service over the radio upon our arrival at church.  O well...the situation had been ignored thjat long, a few minutes more wouldn't hurt....let's get home first.

At home I made the call to 911.   My presence had been desired (but now, thankfully, was no longer needed) at a sudden death scene.   That would be 95% of the calls that I answer.

But this one was different.   The scene was less than five miles from where Jan had fallen.

And the victim was a young woman, intoxicated, who had fallen down a flight of stairs.  DOA.

Much for which to be thankful...too much for words.

Christmas Day:  Orthros and Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom - 8:00/9:00 AM

I was solo...one Liturgy was enough for Jan and for that one Liturgy I was most thankful.

The middle aged layman who had helped me with reading the Psalms of Royal Hours graciously accepted my invitation to join me at the Chanter's Stand to alternate the Six Psalms which are an invariable part of every Orthros except Pascha.   The Proto Psalti arrived in the nick of time (pun intended, remember, his name is Nicholas) for Theos Kyrios ("God is the Lord Who has revealed Himself to us") which is the transition from the invariable opening of Orthros to the propers of the day.

Having been warned that, in the past, he had sometimes wanted to truncate the service by omitting the repeats of the Kathisma hymns I was not sure what to expect.  But much to my amazement he allowed me to repeat each of the three hymns.  In all fairness, the repeats made sense since he chanted in Greek and my repeats were in English....with two Greek chanters (or two English chanters) the repeats would fulfill a rubric but otherwise would serve no liturgical purpose.

During one of the few times when we were not singing, he told me that he needed to leave in time to get to another city by 10:30.   Consequently, he left midway through the Divine Liturgy, the remainder of the responses and hymns sung by the choir.   I had entered the Altar during the Great Doxology.

Attendance was about half that of Christmas Eve...still very respectable, and still many for Communion.  So after the choir finished the prescribed Communion Hymn for Christmas, with many still in line to receive the Mysteries, I again intoned the canticle from Great Compline.  This time, however, I heard a couple of the sopranos of the choir joining me on the refrain "for God is with us".

And they also joined me on another refrain during the distribution of the Antidoron.  Over the past couple of years I had become increasingly aware of how some of the hymns of the West have shamelessly borrowed melodic phrases and tonal structure from Byzantine tonality, among them, "God Rest Ye Merry".  Not only is it Byzantine Tone One like the Katavasias of the Canon of the Nativity, many of its phrases were appropriated from the East

Since I still posses a large collection of Western hymnals there were many from which I could have chosen for this old English carol.  But the UM hymnal sponsored by my parents--now 19 and 13 year deceased--in memory of my paternal grandparents was the only choice.

The frequent liturgical remembrance of the faithful departed is one of the most shining jewels of Orthodoxy.

May the memory of John and June and E. Herman and Elizabeth be Eternal!

+ + +

A postscript to our Moderator Richard:   Houston is blessed with three fine Antiochian Orthodox congregations:  St. George, St. Joseph, and St. Paul. 

Consider Saturday Great Vespers...there are no Sacraments, nothing that could preclude the full participation of a Christian from "the other side of the Bosporus".   

And if you are really adventurous, one or more might be serving Orthros and Divine Liturgy for the Syanaxis of the Theotokos on December 26 and/or St. Stephen the Protomartyr on December 27 (yes, one of those unfortunate misalignments of the calendars).

Tom, I really appreciated reading this.  There is much I do not know about Orthodox practices.  (I don't get out very much and work on Sundays.  ;) )  I especially found that responsive portion in the Royal Hours interesting and quite comforting. 

Blessings to you and your wife.

Jeremy
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2019, 11:43:17 AM »

But other than the perfunctory peace passing and, after church, the woman behind us complimenting my wife on her voice, not one person spoke to us. The woman sharing the pew with us was out of there like a lightning bolt, nobody else around us said a word. It became obvious we were visitors because (after church) I took a couple of pictures of this beautiful worship space (fabulous altar area, stunning stained glass windows). Still no one said a word. We walked out the center aisle and passed the rector, who also didn't even acknowledge our presence. Was it that we were not really "dressed" for church? Is this a city thing? A Texas thing? An Episcopal thing? Or just a congregation that doesn't care much for visitors?


Ah, Pastor Johnson, if you had just meandered a little further south, and joined the packed house at First Lutheran in Edinburg, you would have heard excellent music, a fine sermon, liturgy done well.  The choir (some 25 strong) sang an anthem after the sharing of the peace, but had to wait 6-7 minutes for the clamor to die down.  Our folks have been taught to greet visitors during the sharing of the peace, and tell them not to leave immediately followng the conclusion of the liturgy, since the ones greeting them will chat them up at that time, all accompanied by coffee, cider and refershments.  You ought to try it sometime.

A caveat, though, or perhaps an explanation:  perhaps a quarter of the active members of our parish are residents of a local nudist colony.  You wouldn't believe how friendly those folks are.

Or maybe you would.

Tom Pearson

I’ll keep it in mind (the church and the colony  ;))
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: Roving liturgy report - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2019, 12:55:37 PM »
Tom, I really appreciated reading this.  There is much I do not know about Orthodox practices.  (I don't get out very much and work on Sundays.  ;) )  I especially found that responsive portion in the Royal Hours interesting and quite comforting.

 

Here is a link to the music:

ww1.antiochian.org/sites/default/files/god_is_with_us-t6-bb.pdf

All pieces in the Antiochian Archdiocesan Music Library may be reproduced freely for liturgical use.


Blessings to you and your wife.

Jeremy

Thanks--today is our 37th Wedding Anniversary.
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Roving liturgy report - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2019, 04:51:49 PM »
The Sunday after The Nativity

The Orthodox Lectionary designates one "Sunday after the Nativity" and one "Sunday before the Theophany".  Unlike last year when Theophany fell on a Sunday, this time around we celebrate both.

In the Western church one of my greatest disappointments were the "Sunday after Christmas" when attendance was generally at its lowest, despite the Christmas carol saturation being at its highest.   So today's attendance which was somewhere between Christmas Eve's and Christmas Day's was a very pleasant surprise.

The reason for the large attendance was not so pleasant.  Much of the attendance was driven by the need for a Memorial Service for the faithful departed of five families--including the Priest's.   Each of the families prepared their own tray of Kollyva, which is boiled wheat to which may be added mint, currents, cranberries and nuts as the particular family desires.   The platter is topped with confectionary sugar which may be decorated with silver candy beads as well as inedible insignia, usually crosses.

On a typical Sunday with one or at most two Memorials the kollyva platters fit easily onto a side table positioned in front of the Icon of St. John the Baptist.  Today there were so many platters that three tables had been placed by the Iconostasis.

The Gospel from Matthew 2--like the kollyva--was a stark reminder that the context of Christmas is one of pain and loss; distraught bereaved parents whose boys had been violently parted from them by a jealous king.  The Orthodox Synaxarion numbers the Holy Innocents at 14,000.   Clearly, Herod was taking no chances.

This "dark side of Christmas" had first appeared at the Ninth Hour--the hour of Christ's entombment--on Christmas Eve when only a handful of the faithful were present.   

Today it was unavoidable and inescapable.

And yet in the midst of such pain we nevertheless joined our voices with the angelic host proclaiming "Glory be to God on high and on earth, peace, goodwill to men".
« Last Edit: December 29, 2019, 04:53:45 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Richard Johnson

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Christmas 2
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2020, 08:00:41 PM »
Our last Sunday on the road today and we attended an ELCA congregation in Wichita Falls TX. It was a good example of the maxim that on the road one should generally choose an Episcopal congregation over an ELCA one; at the former you may get a lousy sermon but at least the liturgy will be intact, while in the latter you can't count on either.

The pastor was clearly not on his A game today. There were some "extras" in the service--Council installation, confirmation (yeah, an unusual day for it)--and he kept forgetting what was happening next, and then when he remembered, just sticking what was forgotten in at that point. So the whole thing was remarkably disjointed. The opening "song" was some praise song that had words but no music printed in the bulletin (the bulletin said to see the insert, but there was no insert). Apparently the congregation knew it, but my wife and I, who are both capable musicians, couldn't figure out the melody even though it was sung twice, so we stood mute. In addition to no music, there was no indication of copyright permission for printing the word. The hymn of the day, when they got around to it (somewhere after the intercessions, I think) was "What Child Is This," with introduction played at a snail's pace, and then it slowed down when the congregation began to sing.

The "confession," which probably was copied from ELCA resource, began "We confess that we are not perfect . . . " which seems to me to imply that we aren't really responsible for any sins we might commit (which maybe we don't actually commit, as the word was never mentioned) but it's just because we weren't made perfect. Short hop there to it's all God's fault, after all.

There were multiple typos, including in parts the congregation was supposed to read, but they soldiered on and read some sentences that made no sense whatsoever. It was a challenge with each part of the liturgy to discern whether the bolded type was to be read by the congregation or the leader, because there were instances of each.

The sermon was . . . well, I can't really tell you what it was about. It made some fleeting reference to the gospel for the day, but after that it was mostly stream of consciousness.

They did celebrate the Eucharist, which apparently they do weekly, and there were clear instructions about how the distribution would work. Oh, except it's different on the first Sunday of the month, when people kneel at the altar and receive the Blood of Christ in pre-filled cup, rather than the intinction method described in the bulletin.

As we arrived, the signage was non-existent, so we had to figure out whether to head for what appeared to be the front door of the sanctuary, but then maybe not, because the other building looked like a sanctuary as well, though the only sign said "church office." But we saw someone go in that way, so at least the door was open. We went in and found ourselves in the fellowship hall, and figured out on our own how to find the sanctuary (again, no signs, and though there were several people standing around, no one offered any direction). We came in at the front of the nave and found seats and then thought, "Oh, we don't have a bulletin." So I meandered back to what apparently really was the front door of the church. No ushers anywhere in sight, but I found a stack of bulletins and took one, and signed the guest book.

Did I mention that the congregation's mission statement, printed right at the top of the bulletin, is to "invite and welcome all into the community of faith"?

The Kyrie was that gawdawful "Kyrie eleison, on our world and on our way . . . " thing. They cited the page in ELW but even in the hymnal only the chorus is printed musically, the verses are to be sung by a cantor or choir. But here the whole congregation sang them. We didn't really know the melody well enough to join in, so we belted out the refrain whenever it came along.

I will say that they sang pretty well for a small congregation.

We had to skip out right after the Eucharist as we had to check out of our hotel and noon, and the 10:15 service was already well past 11:30 with the distribution only halfway through. I don't mind long services, but I prefer that there be some content to the length.

We will be happy to worship at home next week.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Christmas 2/Sunday Before Theophany-Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2020, 10:11:34 PM »
The Sunday before Theophany

In the Orthodox tradition Theophany is the second-most important Feast of the Church year; outranked only by Pascha and followed by Pentecost.

The church was nearly as full as at Pascha.  Again, some of the attendance was attributable to a Memorial Service (described in my previous post) but most of the attendance was out of devotion to the Feast and the opportunity to receive Holy Water following the Great Blessing of the Waters.

I had to smile in amusement at the description of the Wichita Falls congregation's worship being chocked with "extras".   There were more extras today than candied almonds on a kollyva (I could write "nuts in a fruitcake" but this is about the Greek Church) but all of them took place at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.

After the Liturgy we had:
1) The Memorial Service,
2) Blessing of the Artoklesia (five sweet loaves) brought by a family in honor of their daughter's recent name-day,
3) The Great Blessing of the Waters; which includes 3 Old Testament lessons; an Epistle and Gospel, as well as an augmented Great Litany--before the lengthy prayers said by the Priest for the blessing of the water,
4) Installation of the Parish Council, all of whom are required to kiss the Gospel Book as a sign of their obedience to Christ and His teaching,
5) The procession of the faithful to kiss the cross, be sprinkled with Holy Water (and drink some then and there and/or take some home in special bottles, if desired) and then take a piece of antidoron and a piece of artoklesia.

The procession was slow.  I cycled through the prescribed hymn (plus the Doxosticon for the Orthros of the Theophany) at least three times...maybe it was four.  It was truly a joy to be able to offer that accompaniment because it did help to maintain a reverent atmosphere during a time which had the potential of becoming noisy, because the congregation always seems to pay closer attention to hymns chanted in English, and because all of those texts are to be sung to the chromatic tones (6 and 2) which have an exotic, Middle Eastern flavor and are truly my favorites.

Quote
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Mode pl. 2.

You wrapped yourself in the waters of the Jordan, O Savior who puts on light as a garment; and You bowed Your head before the Forerunner, O Lord who measured heaven with the span of Your hand, so as to turn the world back from error and to save our souls. [SD]

Both now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.

Mode 2.

Today Christ came to be baptized in the Jordan. Today John touches the head of the Master. The hosts of heaven were astounded seeing the paradoxal mystery. The sea beheld it and fled; when the Jordan saw, it retreated. And we who are now illumined cry aloud, * "Glory be to God who appeared, and who was seen on earth, and who illumined the world."


Nevertheless, even with all the "extras" we were finished just a few minutes before Noon, having begun the Divine Liturgy (unusually) on time at 9:45.

When Christmas or Theophany fall on a Monday there is a strangeness--an outright weirdness--to the liturgical schedule.   The days before both Feasst are kept as strict Fast days, meaning all of the Lenten restrictions apply--even if that is a Sunday.   That is the first oddness...the Day of Resurrection being a day of Strict Fast.

The Strict Fasts of December 24 and January 5 are normally (5 of 7 years) made bearable because the morning is occupied with Royal Hours (always better when Fasting is accompanied by prayer, especially corporate prayer) and the Fast concludes with the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil.

But since the normal Sunday liturgy cycle may not be disrupted the Royal Hours are moved to Friday.  Why Friday and not Saturday you ask?  Because in monastic practice every Saturday is a day for commemorating the Faithful Departed with Divine Liturgy; and, like Sunday, that cannot be displaced for Royal Hours.   Moreover, there cannot be a Sunday evening Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil because that would violate the rule of "one liturgy, one Altar, one day".  So two years ago we had a strange Nativity with a Monday Christmas, this year we have a strange Theophany.  But for the next two years both Feasts will be "normal". 

Glory to God for all things!
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 11:43:56 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Matt Staneck

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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2020, 09:26:40 AM »
Pr. Johnson, I really appreciate this thread and you taking the time to unpack your visits to different churches. I've been following along and it's given me much food for thought across the board. So thanks!

M. Staneck
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St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2020, 09:42:21 AM »
Pr. Johnson has highlighted the fact that too often the local pastor is the most clueless about how poorly the worship is led and how lost a visitor may be.  It is good for every pastor to visit another church from time-to-time, not just so that he can see how others approach the service, but that he can see how it feels to sit in the pew and how things often look from that vantage point. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2020, 11:33:17 AM »
And too often, worship bulletins miss the opportunity to teach about the liturgy. I have seen too many that simply list all the components, without noting the distinctions between confession, word, and meal and sending.
And why print the entire Eucharistic prayer? At that climax of the liturgy, people’s eyes should be focused on the actions at the altar, not on the words on a page.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Article coming up in Lutheran Forum journal. Now would be a good time to subscribe.
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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2020, 04:36:20 PM »
And too often, worship bulletins miss the opportunity to teach about the liturgy. I have seen too many that simply list all the components, without noting the distinctions between confession, word, and meal and sending.
And why print the entire Eucharistic prayer? At that climax of the liturgy, people’s eyes should be focused on the actions at the altar, not on the words on a page.


Not everyone hears very well. Seeing the words helps them know what is being said. I started printing copies of a sermon after an elderly lady said, "I'm not able to hear your whole sermon. What I hear is really good, but I'd like to hear the rest. Could you print a copy for me?"
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2020, 10:27:14 PM »
And too often, worship bulletins miss the opportunity to teach about the liturgy. I have seen too many that simply list all the components, without noting the distinctions between confession, word, and meal and sending.
And why print the entire Eucharistic prayer? At that climax of the liturgy, people’s eyes should be focused on the actions at the altar, not on the words on a page.

I don't think there's anything wrong with printing out the whole Eucharistic prayer, though I see your point. I forgot to mention that at Sunday's experience, the heading said "Eucharistic Prayer' but it was in fact only the words of institution. So Sanctus, words of institution, Lord's Prayer. Not even the sort of abbreviated Eucharistic Prayer (if you can call it that) given as an option in LBW and ELW.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Roving liturgy report-Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2020, 11:35:18 PM »
And too often, worship bulletins miss the opportunity to teach about the liturgy. I have seen too many that simply list all the components, without noting the distinctions between confession, word, and meal and sending.

And why print the entire Eucharistic prayer? At that climax of the liturgy, people’s eyes should be focused on the actions at the altar, not on the words on a page.

I don't think there's anything wrong with printing out the whole Eucharistic prayer, though I see your point. I forgot to mention that at Sunday's experience, the heading said "Eucharistic Prayer' but it was in fact only the words of institution. So Sanctus, words of institution, Lord's Prayer. Not even the sort of abbreviated Eucharistic Prayer (if you can call it that) given as an option in LBW and ELW.

A very well timed conversation, for today, the Great Feast of the Epiphany (Theophany) of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ is one just ten times each year that the longer and older Divine Liturgy of St. Basil may be served instead of the newer and "abbreviated" Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

To follow along or not to follow along, that is the question.

When I first began to be in the Altar (Sanctuary) 15 months ago my Priest presented me with a custom spiral bound liturgy book which he had assembled containing the full texts with rubrics for Great Vespers, Orthros (Matins) and the Divine Liturgy.

The pages are arranged so that the Greek text is on the left hand page, the English text on the right.

Beginning with the Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn, the pages are further divided into columns; the left column containing the text of the Chrysostom liturgy; the right column the text of Basil.   Normally I am flipping many pages because there are pages of blank columns opposite to the Basil prayers.

On both Christmas Eve and the Feast of St. Basil (aka New Year's Day) I was pretty much glued to the book, in part because there were so many Altar Boys who needed to be cued on when to prepare the incense, when to be ready for the blessing of the antidoron, and when to be ready with the Zeon.  They need little prompting when the Chrysostom Liturgy is served. Basil, though, is less familiar and moreover there as an eight to nine month interval between its final use on Holy Saturday morning and Christmas Eve.

The Theophany - Divine Liturgy of St. Basil

Today, however, was different.  There were no Altar Boys to supervise.  Instead of being glued to the page I listened closely to the magnificent words of our father among the Saints whose Trinitarianism shines forth on every page.

Perhaps because there were fewer necessary distractions, perhaps because I could listen instead of look, some of the truly excellent phrases penetrated deeply.

Quote
Remember, Lord our God, all Your people, and pour out Your rich mercy upon them, granting them their petitions for salvation. Remember, O God, all those whom we have not remembered through ignorance, forgetfulness or because of their multitude since You know the name and age of each, even from their mother's womb. For You, Lord, are the helper of the helpless, the hope of the hopeless, the savior of the afflicted, the haven of the voyager, and the physician of the sick.

How frequently we fail to mention someone for prayer!  Especially because of the "multitude of names" [as it appears in my book].  The longer we serve the more people we encounter, and our circle expands geometrically through their circles.   Basil's phrase is the Ecclesial equivalent to the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Quote
Prevent schism in the Church; pacify the raging of the heathen. Quickly stop the uprisings of heresies by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Receive us all into Your kingdom. Declare us to be sons and daughters of the light and of the day. Grant us Your peace and love, Lord our God, for You have given all things to us.

Against the backdrop of the potential fracturing of Orthodoxy over the Ukraine, against the backdrop of the almost certain fracturing of the Western ecclesial body in which I was Baptized, Confirmed and Ordained, against the backdrop of new tensions in Iran which I have known virtually all of my adult life; the Saint stands larger than life just as his Icon in the Sanctuary is at least double of life size.  And his words are a more than double than life challenge:  To be declared sons and daughters of the light means that the Apostles' words to the Ephesisans "walk therefore...." are not optional.   Not that they ever were.

+ + +

The attendance was much lower than on Sunday.  Still, the Great Blessing of the Waters was repeated, per the rubrics, and the faithful made their procession to venerate the cross, to be sprinkled with the Holy Water, and to drink and/or to take a flask home.  Only one time through the hymn and just the "Glory..." of the Doxosticon.   About 50....which is better than any of the Great Feasts falling on a weekday except for Christmas and the Dormition (August 15).

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Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Roving liturgy report
« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2020, 07:58:00 PM »
The Synaxis in honor of the holy Forerunner [Prophet, and Baptist John]

Many feast days of the Orthodox Church are immediately followed by a secondary extension of the feast, in honor of one or more of the main actors of the primary feast.   So Christmas Day is followed, on December 26, with the Synaxis of the Theotokos; the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, is followed on June 30 with the Synaxis of the Apostles; so logically the day after the Epiphany (Theophany) is followed by the Synaxis of the holy Forerunner, Prophet, and Baptist John.

In the Annunciation parish there are several men named John (Ionannis) in honor of the Forerunner.  There are also some with that name whose patron is the Fourth Evangelist, and others still (including my son) who are named for John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople.

Because today is the name-day feast for many of the guys we served Orthros and Divine Liturgy. 

Once again, I was blessed to have Mark’s assistance at the Cantor’s stand for the Six Psalms and some other spoken parts of the Orthros.  The Protopsalti arrived just in time for the Ninth Ode, 

In contrast to yesterday’s Great Feast the Orthros was mercifully brief.  Only two pairs of Kathisma hymns, no Gospel, and only one Katavasias.

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy there was a blessing of Artoklesia which had been home-baked by a very devout widow--one of the contemporary Annas (cf Luke 2) whose constant presence is a blessing to this community, not to mention her God-given talent in arranging floral frames around Icons at Feast days, and, of course, her baking skills.  Very kindly, she sent me home with a quarter-loaf which, when toasted and slathered with butter made an excellent late breakfast.

The frozen waters--in the form of snow--were NOT a welcome extension of the Feast.  Southcentral Pennsylvania was forecast to receive 1-3 inches of snow, mostly on grassy areas, around sunset.   We passed that mark at sunset and now with nearly five inches on decks and grass and two inches on untreated pavement the memories of the January 7, 1996 blizzard are pushing toward the foreground.

We won't be getting 24 inches this January 7, but make no mistake, I will be pushing snow on the tractor at bright twilight tomorrow morning.

While I am Greek Orthodox by faith I will always be Pennsylwania Dutch by birth and what is there to say except:

Ja vell, so gates.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 09:40:22 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015