1 The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
"Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you."
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it;
it will be for those who walk in that Way;
wicked fools will not go about on it. [Or / the simple will not stray from it]
9 No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
When sk8eeyore heard I was gonna be visiting here, she linked me to this piece. Amusingly, it's one of the pamphlets in a rack when you enter St. George. I took a lot of pamphlets (which I haven't read yet) and talked with the Father some during coffee hour (which was more like a full luncheon) though of course later I remembered stuff I'd meant to ask since I wasn't actually looking at my notes while I was talking to him so this is very much an introduction to going to Sunday service at this particular church rather than a primer on Greek Orthodoxy. He hoped I would come back -- of course -- but also said I was welcome to e-mail him with questions -- or I could ask the day's pastor, who teaches at Greek Seminary in Brookline. And really, what I want far more than any sort of "church home" is a collection of people I can talk theology with.
Oh, and of course the issue of tradition came up in the conversation, and the Father pointed out that Tradition predates Scripture -- since it took some time for the letters to be collected, etc., which was a really good point I hadn't thought of before.
I got there around 9:30, so I had about a half an hour of Matins before the Divine Liturgy started. So much chanting. Which made it hard to catch most of the actual words. I imagine one gets used to it.
So much incense, too. It's that classic incense smell, though I'm not sure what that smell is -- I don't think it's patchouli.
I think these notes are all from chanty bits of Matins:
The sea creature spitting up Jonah, followed by something about Jesus being birthed without harm -- which I'm fairly certain meant that Jesus was born without disrupting Mary's physical wholeness, and okay, teleportation solves the hymen issue, but the implications that sex/bodies=bad bother me.
The Jews put Jesus to death (which made me twitchy), slumbering King, Christ gave us the cross as a weapon against enemies (of course I went to a vampire place with that) and then something about raising the dead (I'm fairly certain this was about Christ's followers having the power to raise the dead through the cross, and being in a vampire place this made my brain twisty). Then there was a reading of Mark 16:17-18 about the signs by which Christ's followers will be known, and I find this interesting because nobody nowadays speaks in tongues or drives out demons, and the picking up snakes bit always makes me think of that X-Files episode, and the whole thing is just a prime example of one of "Is this still true today? How do you reconcile it with the realities of today?"
From the bulletin:
The Sunday that falls between December 11-17 is known as the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers. These are the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, who lived before the Law, especially the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said. "In thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen 12:3, 22:18). ~ OCA.orgThe readings that were actually recited were Colossians 3:4-11 and Luke 14:16-24. I had some clever thought about "For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet." -- about Jews and Gentiles and the covenants, but I don't remember what that was. And one question I neglected to ask was, "Why do the Scripture readings not fit with your liturgical calendar?"
The church celebrates the Three Children and Daniel on this day, on the Sunday of the Forefathers, and on the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ, since they prefigured and proclaimed His Incarnation. Furthermore, they were of the tribe of Judah, wherefrom, Christ sprang forth according to the flesh. The holy Three Children completed their lives full of days; as for the Prophet Daniel, he lived until the reign of Cyrus, King of Persia, whom he also petitioned that his nation be allowed to return to Jerusalem and that the Temple be raised again, and his request was granted. He reposed in Peace, having lived about eighty-eight years. His prophetical book, which is divided unto twelve chapters, is ranked fourth among the Greater Prophets. ~ Reading courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA
The sermon was 3-points using an extended adoption metaphor (which I guess sort of goes with the Scripture readings -- though they really weren't related to the forefathers/martyrs theme) and I love his clear outlineyness: "My first point is X. Now I will elaborate upon it. My second point is Y. Now I will elaborate upon it. And to review, my first point is X, my second point is Y, and and my third point is Z, which I will now elaborate upon."
1) The paperwork etc. of adoption is initiated before the child is born. I thought this paralleled nicely with Jeremiah 1:5 ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you") -- though he didn't explicitly reference it.
+ He talked about parental seniority, but he kept saying "He" and "paternal" and I was getting seriously bugged and regret that I didn't think to ask him when I saw him at coffee hour, 'cause while I respect the conception of God as male, adoption is usually only allowed in two-parent homes so I imagine he has a wife who was involved in all this.
2) The biological child and the adopted are equally real children, neither one is "more real" or superior to the other. (Hello Romans 11:17-21.)
3) Adoption is a gift.
+ He qupted Hebrews 4, God talking about his 40 year wrath, how not a one of them will enter my rest (which sounded oh so harsh phrased that way, 'cause it implies the afterlife while the story is only explicitly talking about the land of Canaan -- which phrase always starts me singing Indigo Girls), saying how's that for resting on paternal laurels? (i.e., everyone has flawed ancestors)
+ Grace is a gift not earned. The most common liturgical response is "Lord have mercy" because what else can you say in the face of all that?
+ "While you were still sinners" -- not when you were trying your best -- Christ died for you (Romans 5:8)
+ He mentioned that the phrases should really be "the Church of God" and "the People of God" rather than just "the Church" and "the People." He said that in the original phrase (ecclesia theu -- I know I'm totally mangling that second word, which I think was in fact two words, since I know no Greek so my memory for it is awful) the subject is God.
+ He talked about how his adopted daughter becomes a part of his family, of his lineage, through his word (i.e. the adoption papers) which had wonderful unspoken resonance given the multiplicity of meaning of Word in the Bible.
+ And something about Paul as father to Corinthians, which exact citation I can't find. [Edit: found it in one of the pamphlets I picked up: "For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gosopel" (1 Corinthians 4:15, NASV).]
After the service, half a dozen people introduced themselves -- and asked if I was new and if I was Orthodox/Greek. I told everyone I was just visiting, that I had friends who were interested in Orthodox theology so I wanted to attend an Orthodox service. Everyone was very nice and said positive things about the church and thanked me for coming and expressed the hope that I would return, saying I was welcome anytime.
During the service, there was a little boy who kept popping up everywhere, though he was very quiet, and I was sitting with a bunch of older (read: grandmother) women at coffee hour and one of them mentioned how wonderful it is that there are all these children and how they think of this as like their family and explicitly mentioned that boy. I remembered how my mom has said that back in the day people would pace the back of the sanctuary at United when their infants fussed and thought how markedly different this woman's reaction to the little boy was from my grandmother's haranguing about the disruptive children with the parents who can't keep them under control &c &c.
I mentioned to someone that I had just graduated from college and she said I looked about 14. Yeah, everyone says I'll be glad of this when I'm older, but I would far rather look 40 when I'm 40 than look 14 when I'm 22. (Also: People say this as if no one ever ages well. I know plenty of people who are in their 40s or 50s or older who look good. Do they look their age? Maybe; I'm awful at determining people's ages on sight. But there are plenty of people with wrinkles, grey/white hair, etc. who do not look bad.)