Author Topic: Went to my first Orthodox service...  (Read 3969 times)

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Offline Doubting Thomas

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Went to my first Orthodox service...
« on: July 27, 2003, 09:25:22 PM »
..today.  What can I say?  The music was beautiful as were the prayers (the ones I could hear over the crying babies :o )  It was different standing the whole time--especially after I had ran earlier that morning on concrete pavement  :- .  It took some getting used to seeing folks kiss the icons and bow and cross themselves so many times.  I did get a silent chuckle (meaning no disrespect) seeing someone (a godmother) spit out the door during the baptism  ;D.
Overall the service was very moving and worshipful.
It gives me much to think and pray about...
"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33

Offline Jonathan

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2003, 10:29:53 PM »
The standing gets easier after a few weeks :-)  I'm glad you were able to appreciate it so quickly, it took me quite a few weeks before I was really able to get into and appreciate the Liturgy.  Was there anything that surprised you or you'd like to ask about?

Offline Linus7

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2003, 10:42:18 PM »
DT -

It's great to hear your experience was positive. And Jonathan is right: the standing gets to be easy once you get used to it. I never get really sleepy and bored at Divine Liturgy like I used to at Protestant services (although I must confess, Protestants who also use liturgy - like the Lutherans - are much more adept at keeping the congregation awake than others who rely on long sermons).

Man, I love venerating the icons and crossing myself! Sometimes I can positively feel the presence of the Church Triumphant - all the saints of the Old and New Covenants - worshiping together with us. It makes me smile to know that we are surrounded by friends, by older brothers and sisters who are cheering us on to the finish and who stand ready to welcome us when we come home at last.
The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.
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Offline Doubting Thomas

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2003, 09:01:55 AM »
I must confess that I usually don't get bored in the services at my Baptist Church, as the Pastor is a very good preacher and I love the Baptist Hymns.  (Some of the new praise choruses though leave much to be desired.  ::) )

Right now I'm unsure of where to go next.  On the one hand the Baptist church has been all I've known.  I still can't quite get over the hump and endorse infant baptism, despite the beauty of the baptismal service I witnessed yesterday.  On the other hand, I disagree with the eschatology (pre-trib) and soteriology ("once-saved-always-saved") taught at my church.

I guess I'm still sorting out the whole relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the Church.  Ironically, I've read some good books from PROTESTANTS lately which acknowledge the interrelationship of the three in early Christian worship and doctrine.  This leads me to wonder if there may not be some "middle ground" so to speak, but that may be wishful thinking.  We'll see...
"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33

Offline Keble

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2003, 09:16:01 AM »
I guess I'm still sorting out the whole relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the Church.  Ironically, I've read some good books from PROTESTANTS lately which acknowledge the interrelationship of the three in early Christian worship and doctrine.  This leads me to wonder if there may not be some "middle ground" so to speak, but that may be wishful thinking.  We'll see...

Uh oh, he's going Anglican..... :)

Offline Doubting Thomas

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2003, 09:58:28 AM »

Uh oh, he's going Anglican..... :)


Actually, I have considered the Anglicanism, particularly the Anglican Catholic Church.  However, and this may be the Baptist in me, I'm not sure about the Anglican practice about baptizing by sprinkling rather than immersion.  In comparing the ACC to the Orthodox church, both accept the first 7 ecumenical councils as authoritative and represenative of the "catholic" faith.  However, the ACC includes the filioque in the Nicene Creed.  And I'm still sorting out the whole Mary and communion of saints thing, as well as infant baptism, which would apply equally to Orthodoxy and Anglian Catholicism.

In terms of the less "catholic" Anglicanism, isn't it a mixed bag?  The ECUSA seems to be pretty liberal with the ordination of women and the acceptance of homosexuality.  I have read of more conservative splinter groups ("continuing Anglicans") but there isn't a representative church in my area.  

Keble, I'm not trying to knock Anglicanism in general (except for the liberal strands), but I'm not sure if that's the place for me either--although certain aspects are appealing.
"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33

Offline katherine 2001

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2003, 10:26:14 AM »
Thomas, as I was Baptist for 20 years, I do know what you are experiencing.  Maybe it was a little easier for me because I think God lead me to it slowly and had been preparing me before I even attended my first service.  It helped that I had almost two months of typica (Reader's) services before I had my first liturgy because that gave me a couple of months to get used to the icons, candles, the prayers, etc. before my first liturgy.  By the time I had my first liturgy, I was hooked.  When I had no clue as to what was going on, it made me want to learn.  If I had faced that my first time out, it might have very well scared me off.  When you don't come from a liturgical church, that first liturgy can be rather scary!

May I recommend a book that might really help you?  It is a book called "Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells", by Matthew Gallatin.  He had been both a fundamentalist and a charismatic before he converted (in fact he was a pastor of a charismatic church for several years) before converting to Orthodoxy.  He discusses many of the topics that those of us who come from an evangelical or charismatic background, and I think he does a very good job of it.  It is published by Conciliar Press (www.conciliarpress.com) and costs about $15.00 (give or take a buck or two).  
He discusses Sola Scriptura v. Scripture and Tradition, the Theotokos, venerations of the saints, infant baptism, the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), using prayer books as opposed to strictly spontaneous prayer, and many other topics.  After I read it, I gave it to a friend of mine that is Baptist like I was, and she loved it too.  

I know that before I started attending the Orthodox mission that scriptures were leaping out at me that I saw the Baptists not incorporating.  The two biggies for me were how Baptists see Communion.  The verses that I was reading made it very clear to me that it *is* the Body and Blood of Christ.  Of course, the Baptists (and many of the evangelical and charismatic churches deny that it is His Body and Blood).  Also, the verses about confessing our sins to one another and the apostles being given power to absolve or remit sins (how could they do that without hearing them first).  

Be patient with yourself.  Don't do things unless you are comfortable with doing them.  I have found that priests are extremely patient.  Stand as much as you feel comfortable doing.  You do get used to it after awhile.  There are certain parts of the service that you should definitely stand for: the Gospel reading, the reciting of the Creed, the Eucharistic prayer, and during Holy Communion.   Other times, feel free to sit if you are tired.  


Offline Doubting Thomas

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2003, 10:39:47 AM »
Katherine,
Thanks for the advice.  In respect to these concerns of mine is how my wife feels, particularly in relation to saints, Mary, and icons.  We've had more than a few conversations about these, and she can to an extent understand the Orthodox logic behind it but remains unconvinced without more explicit Biblical mandate.  I 've obviously read much more about this than she has.  Also with our firstborn baby on the way (less than 2 months!) it seems a lot to handle thinking about the possibility of leaving the comforts of our home church for one in which we'd have to drive AT LEAST an hour in each direction.  So I'm going to continue to read and pray and somehow continue to serve as a deacon in my church despite the reservations I have for the time being.  If I feel God is leading me in a new direction, I will of course assume (and pray!) that he's leading my wife in that same direction.
"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33

Offline Oblio

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2003, 10:59:27 AM »
Thomas,

I am glad you had a good first visit !  I second the advice on Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells

Quote
We've had more than a few conversations about these, and she can to an extent understand the Orthodox logic behind it but remains unconvinced without more explicit Biblical mandate.

You might mention to her that Tradition guided the Church for over 300 years before the was a Bible to 'mandate' Orthodox practice and worship.  Holy Scripture was in fact canonized because those writings affirmed the beliefs of the Church.

Another book that has been quite enlightening for me is Common Ground.  While I have not yet finished it, it lays out the root of the cause of the Reformation and what the original Reformers thought, and how modern Protestants have deviated from the goals and beliefs of their founders.

Offline CDHealy

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2003, 12:19:08 PM »
Thomas:

Wow.  How similar, in some respects, our paths are.

My wife and I are Protestant.  I'm much more into Orthodoxy.  We're expecting our first child in a week and a half.

But many of the questions with which you struggle have been answered for me.  And I only have a fifteen minute drive to worship.
Clifton D. Healy
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Offline Brigid of Kildare

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2003, 02:00:07 PM »

Man, I love venerating the icons and crossing myself! Sometimes I can positively feel the presence of the Church Triumphant - all the saints of the Old and New Covenants - worshiping together with us. It makes me smile to know that we are surrounded by friends, by older brothers and sisters who are cheering us on to the finish and who stand ready to welcome us when we come home at last.

Linus,

What a lovely piece of writing, one which brought to mind my own very first experience of Orthodox worship - vespers at which I was the only member of the congregation! I said to the priest and his wife afterwards "We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses here", and I was aware of how the saints are indeed our elder brothers and sisters in the faith. Seeing the icons on the walls brought this home to me in a way that somehow statues never did.

Brigid
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Offline theodore

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2003, 06:21:59 PM »

Another book that has been quite enlightening for me is Common Ground.  While I have not yet finished it, it lays out the root of the cause of the Reformation and what the original Reformers thought, and how modern Protestants have deviated from the goals and beliefs of their founders.

I found Common Ground to be an excellent and informative book as well.  I like the section Jordan Bajis has on "age restrictive baptism" which examines the evolution of the practice in the west of restricting sacraments based on age.  It offers an excellent explanation of the Orthodox practice of Infant Baptism, (as well as Chrismation and First Communion).   This is a clearly written and well outlined book.

Offline Chuck S.

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2003, 02:41:33 PM »

Dear Thomas,

I'm so glad to hear you went to your first Orthodox service! I absolutely LOVE standing in worship...I really feel like I'm worshipping the Lord as a participant Rather than just a spectator!

It will get easier with time...

1st Century Jews (meaning Christ, all the Apostles, disciples etc) all STOOD at prayer (Mark 11:25) and worship in the 2nd Temple of Jerusalem. The OT practice was to stand in the presence of God at worship. The Apostles were all jewish and they taught the Church how to worship...so this practice of standing (not to mention the chanting, the incense, even the images) is a direct carry over from 1st Century Judaism.

When you begin to dig into the the Judaism of Christ's time and how they worshipped, its amazing how the Orthodox Church has preserved all of these practices to this very day. There is a true continuity that shows Orthodox Christianity is the next logical step...the OT was the forshawdowing...but the NT is the actual image of that shadow.

I too at one point considered becoming "high church protestant"...Lutheran actually. (because I hadn't yet accepted Icons) but I still knew that the Lutheran
church was not the Church founded by Christ...only dated back to the 16th century and had no Apostolic Succession left. (except in Finland or something)

Plus with all the new inovations (ordaining women, marrying gays, and even ordaining gays) in the lutheran and other high protestant churches, I just couldn't see how they could be considered "The Church" Only Orthodoxy had remained changless...while everyone else changed doctrine from year to year or decade to decade.

As far as infant Baptism Thomas...it might be good to start another thread on that. But briefly...and this is WELL documented by the Church fathers who actually knew the Apostles themselves...that Infants have always been baptized.

In the Book of Acts we see the Apostles Baptizing enitre households. Its unlikely that not one of these families had at least one child under the age of say 5.

There is still another reason we baptize babies and not wait...(actually many reasons)...first the Scriptures are clear that baptism is what unites us to the body of Christ. (the Church) So if we refuse to baptize babies, we're denying them union into the Church. How can we do such a thing?  How can we deny them the gifts of being a full member of the Church?

But really this totally different topic...

I'm just glad to know that you enjoyed your first service...

In Christ, Chuck

In Christ, Thomas

Offline Chuck S.

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2003, 04:24:18 PM »


Thomas,

I forgot to mention 2 quick things you mentioned in your first post...

First, the crying babies..:) We Orthodox don't call this noise, we call it "blessed noise"...lol!

Orthodox don't withhold the grace of God from even the youngest children, so kids are almost always present. usually they're really not as loud as you'd think...sounds like you got "one of those days"...:=)

And the godmother spitting at the baptism...thats symbolic of spitting upon satan as the infant was about to be "born from above"...

Just in case you were wondering why she did that..LOL!

In Christ, Chuck


In Christ, Thomas

Offline Xenia

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2003, 01:35:59 AM »
Hi Thomas,

I recently converted to Holy Orthodoxy, after being Baptist and non-denom Evangelical all my life.  I was 51 when I was chrismated last January!

I guess I'm still sorting out the whole relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the Church.

Sola Scriptura was a burdensome hurdle for me,  but once I off-loaded it,  everything else fell into place.  When the light bulb went off in my head that the Church produced the Bible, not the Bible producing the Church, all kids of Good Things became possible.

Of all the Protestant doctrines, Sola Scriptura is the most self-contradictory.  For me it was a great relief to be rid of it.  

With all that Baptistness in my background, I was prepared to be uncomfortable about the icons on my first visit.  What a surprise!  I felt like I was surrounded by dear friends and relatives.  Hey, there's St. John the Baptist!  Good to see you!  Whoa, there's Habakkuk!  I almost cried for joy as the meaning of "Great Crowd of Witnesses" became unexpectly real in my heart.  

I "third" Thirsting for God....  

God bless you!
-Xenia

« Last Edit: August 03, 2003, 01:40:21 AM by Xenia »

Offline Doubting Thomas

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2003, 03:05:40 PM »
Xenia,

Thanks for your reply.  I may get a chance to revisit that church in about 3 weeks.

For now, however, I need to prepare for the Sunday School lesson I'm teaching next week on the Trinity.
"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33

Offline Seraphim Reeves

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2003, 10:02:20 PM »
Quote
..today.  What can I say?  The music was beautiful as were the prayers (the ones I could hear over the crying babies  )  It was different standing the whole time--especially after I had ran earlier that morning on concrete pavement  .  It took some getting used to seeing folks kiss the icons and bow and cross themselves so many times.  I did get a silent chuckle (meaning no disrespect) seeing someone (a godmother) spit out the door during the baptism  .
Overall the service was very moving and worshipful.
It gives me much to think and pray about...

I'm on a similar path to you...just further along (firmly convinced for some time of the truth of Orthodox Christianity..)  In my case, I'm coming from a very traditionalist RC background.  Some would think that this would make things easier, but it has it's own challenges.

As for infant baptism, one point to consider is the whole notion of election.  While the subject is not dwelled upon in the same way it is in Protestantism (or even Roman Catholicism for that matter), one idea worth considering is that those who God knows to be in the "book of life" (since no Orthodox Christian would ever say God does not know who will persevere, and who will not) may very well include children below "the age of reason."  If this is the case (and why should we not think this to be so?  Are not children held up in the Gospels as models of simplicity and purity?), then there is absolutely no grounds for the Church to withold the mysteries of salvation from them.  I do not say it to take a cheap knock at Protestants, but is not the idea that rational, explicitly stated "faith" as a requirement on the part of the convert a type of "works righteousness"?  Cannot God bring into His Household of grace whoever He wants to...even the little ones?   Perhaps the act of baptizing, chrismating, and communing a child is the ultimate rejection of the idea that salvation is anything but a gratuitous gift of a loving, good God.

All of the "works" which we are called to later on (which many Protestants unfortunately criticize the Orthodox for) are there precisely because the excercise of our rational faculties puts obsticals in the way of God's calling.  All of the fasts, penances, etc. found in Orthodoxy exist to knock down our "works" (sins) so that we can be free to let God build us up.

As for the issue of icons, I'm sure you've already read plenty of apologetical works (both for and against) on this subject.  The only words I could offer, is to ask yourself just what an idol "is", and why such things are prohibited.  The defense of icons is a deeply Christological issue, for if the iconoclast position is correct, then a logical disconnect is created in the mind of one who holds it, yet also worships Christ as "God-Man".  I'm not saying the typical Protestant is a closet Nestorian (or Arian); but there is a certain inconsistancy in taking offence to the worship of Christ's likeness, yet adoring the God-Man Himself.  I'd also say that even if one (say a Protestant) does not start out formally having problems with the Incarnation as a result of their iconoclasm, it's only a matter of time before confessions exhibiting such iconoclasm will exhibit their own "Arianizing" or "Nestorianizing" ideas (more often implicitly than explicitly.)  The same can be said of the rejection of the title "Mother of God" in regard to the Blessed Virgin.

Seraphim


Offline afanasiy

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2003, 01:18:44 AM »
Dear in Chist Thomas and CHuck,

     You could do worse than shop around.  The Greeks (at leat GOA) sit and in America don't separate the sexes or nsist on womens' veils or cross the arms to communicate; they also leave out the TYpics, leave out the Litany and other things of the part for the Catechumens, etc.  Outside of North America, the serviecs are less differnt, except of course for the Language and the diff. betweenchoir and cantors.
     A start for sorting out Orthodox vs. Western differences is http://orlapubs.com/AR/R284.html.

Afanasiy, sinner
afanasiy

Offline Saint Polycarp

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2003, 09:23:37 AM »
Wow what a great run of posts on this thread! Good reading and good comments!
Peace,
Polycarp
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Offline Anastasios

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Re:Went to my first Orthodox service...
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2003, 09:52:46 AM »
Dear in Chist Thomas and CHuck,

     You could do worse than shop around.  The Greeks (at leat GOA) sit and in America don't separate the sexes or nsist on womens' veils or cross the arms to communicate; they also leave out the TYpics, leave out the Litany and other things of the part for the Catechumens, etc.  Outside of North America, the serviecs are less differnt, except of course for the Language and the diff. betweenchoir and cantors.
     A start for sorting out Orthodox vs. Western differences is http://orlapubs.com/AR/R284.html.

Afanasiy, sinner

Dear in Christ Afanasiy,

I do not dispute the above but in the GOA parish I used to visit frequently the people crossed their arms to communicate.  Just thought I'd let you know.

anastasios
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Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism and may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.