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Author Topic: Scheduling Christmas Services  (Read 1242 times) Average Rating: 0
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genesisone
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« on: November 04, 2012, 09:55:14 PM »

In our discussion of Vesperal Liturgies, I posted the following:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24720.msg829965.html#msg829965
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Because of our limited parish resources, it's practical for us to have only one service at Christmas. Once again (last year's Sunday Dec 25 made an exception), our priest has announced that it will be the VDL with St Basil's Liturgy. I'm disappointed about that decision. I think we'll have had our fill of VDLs in the previous weeks for one thing. Then, this service is the least joyous of the Christmas services. It is not one to which I would invite family (all non-Orthodox) or friends, but I would invite them to join me for Orthros + DL of St John C - especially if it were at midnight. That hour would create interest in itself, and is certainly not unusual in this community due to the high number of RCs who do celebrate Midnight Mass at Christmas. I really had my heart set on attending a Christmas Eve service at a church of one of my family members. I'm thinking I'm going to go ahead and do that anyway. My priest won't be happy about that - I generally anchor the chanters - but I am annoyed that he made that announcement with no consultation of the congregation. I know there are others who, like me, have family obligations that we like to attend to just once a year, so I am concerned about the attendance in any case.

This morning I told me priest how I felt. I told him that it is important for me to spend at least one Christmas service with my non-Orthodox family. Since I can't (or won't) invite them to ours because of the nature of the service, I would be planning to attend one of their services. My priest's reasoning for the VDL was, "That's the way we've always done it before." I told him how disappointed I was that there was no discussion about the matter ahead of time.

He told me that if we are going to have just one service at Christmas it has to be St Basil's DL, and therefore if we're going to have only one service it has to be the VDL. I believe that if only one liturgy is prescribed for the Feast (i.e. when Dec 25 falls on a Sunday or Monday), then that Liturgy will be St Basil's. However, if a parish because of limited resources has to limit the number of services, are we consigned to the VDL? That would surprise me. But according to my priest, if we want to have Orthros + St John's DL, we must have St Basil's as well. He went on to tell me that if I insisted on having two services, and it was a flop, he would blame me. When I suggested that the midnight observation of Nativity ought to be considered, then he said that that's impossible, as we would have to have the VDL very early on the morning of the 24th so the services wouldn't be so close. I really don't think he understands that Nativity is one of three occasions where two liturgies are prescribed for the same liturgical day. The number of hours in between really isn't an issue. Besides, in any case, my suggestion is still that we have just one service - preferably the midnight one.

So here are my questions:
If your parish has Compline/Orthros/DL in the very late evening and over midnight, at what hour do you have St Basil's VDL?

Is there anyone else out there in a small parish that simply has to limit the number of services - and if so, how are you handling it?

I know what the books say about which services are there for us over Christmas, but none of them spell out a specific timetable, or address the issue of how to abbreviate the number of services for very practical reasons.

I feel a bit like I'm whining and priest-bashing, but that's not the case at all. My priest is a dear man - this is one of very few points where we disagree.
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mike
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2012, 04:30:28 AM »

Why do you care? St. Basil's and St. John's are practically indistinguishable.
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2012, 07:18:00 AM »

We have limited services but seem to have the major ones.
We have  Orthos and St Basils liturgy Christmas day.  
St Basil's is directed as the liturgy for Christmas.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2012, 07:20:04 AM by soderquj » Logged

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genesisone
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2012, 10:56:33 AM »

Why do you care? St. Basil's and St. John's are practically indistinguishable.
If my priest were to say, "OK, we'll have a midnight/morning service but use St Basil's Festal Liturgy" (as is done on Sundays) then I have no problem.

My priest is under the impression that this year, St Basil's (non-festal) must be part of the VDL - and therefore that is what we must do. The portion of the VDL that is St Basil's Liturgy calls for the usual Sunday Koinonikon, Megalynarion, and "We have seen the true light" (following Communion). Other than the prescribed Gospel reading, there is no reference to Christmas whatsoever.

Now that you've given me a chance to talk this aloud, I might be able to present it to him. Thanks to both who have responded.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2012, 10:58:37 AM by genesisone » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2012, 11:12:04 AM »

But according to my priest, if we want to have Orthros + St John's DL, we must have St Basil's as well

I think in this case he is right, because the Orthros seemed to be done out of the cycle without Vespers. I think (I'm not specialist, just very interested in liturgics) it could be done in this way: Great Compline + Orthros + Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

In my parish there is Vesperal Liturgy of st. Basil in the morning of the 24th of December, than in the evening Great Compline + Matins and on the next day in the morning Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.  I think that's also not perfect, because Great Compline should start more or less at 11 PM and right after it (so more or less at midnight) Matins + Liturgy, because Christimas is such feast, that's better for services to be done at night. Unfortunately, in all parishes in Warsaw it's done in the same way (except Greek Catholics Wink)

Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil for Christmas Eve it's not so festal. I treat it rather like something for say "goodbye" to Nativity Fast and a sign that prophecies very soon will be fulfil. The troparion and kontakion of the Nativity are sung after this Liturgy, so it can't be treated so festal as Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Christmas. And as I've mentioned in the thread about Vesperal Liturgies, the Canono of the Nativity can be chanted first time fully during the Orthros. At the VL of st. Basil only katavasias of this canon can be done.
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2012, 12:59:39 PM »

Why do you care? St. Basil's and St. John's are practically indistinguishable.
If my priest were to say, "OK, we'll have a midnight/morning service but use St Basil's Festal Liturgy" (as is done on Sundays) then I have no problem.

My priest is under the impression that this year, St Basil's (non-festal) must be part of the VDL - and therefore that is what we must do. The portion of the VDL that is St Basil's Liturgy calls for the usual Sunday Koinonikon, Megalynarion, and "We have seen the true light" (following Communion). Other than the prescribed Gospel reading, there is no reference to Christmas whatsoever.

Now that you've given me a chance to talk this aloud, I might be able to present it to him. Thanks to both who have responded.

I think you are confused. The Parmon Liturgy is a Vesperal Liturgy, in that it begins with Vespers and after the Little Entrance it moves into Liturgy. In the case of Pascha, Theophany and Christmas - this Vesperal Liturgy is always celebrated with the anaphora of St. Basil.

Last year, because the feast fell on a Sunday, the Anaphoras are reversed with no Vesperal Liturgy being celebrated at all (that is St. John's anaphora is celebrated on Saturday and St. Basil's anaphora on Sunday).

To be honest it sounds like your priest is making a pastoral choice that is not out of the tradition. It is not complete but, not knowing the circumstances of your community, it does sound like a reasonable practice for a small parish or mission.

Also, the Kontakion would not be sung at this liturgy and the Magalynarion would be "All of Creation..." since it is the Liturgy of St. Basil.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2012, 01:02:36 PM by arimethea » Logged

Joseph
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2012, 04:36:43 PM »

wow, you guys plan so far ahead! we didn't even start the fast yet.

wishing u all the peace and joy of the Christmas fast, may God guide u in yr service planning.
maybe u could have a service of the prayer book with a subdeacon or reader, so the priest doesn't have to be there for all services?
u could follow it with a presentation of the church and suitable (fasting or non fasting, depending when u do it) refreshments.
if u have a big hall, u could set up a ping pong table or some other activities after, so people can chill out after and also learn more about the church as they sit and chat.
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2012, 05:47:46 PM »


I just come for the service.  I trust that my priest has thought this through and is leading the celebration appropriately.

We have a service in the evening - January 6 (Christmas Eve) - followed by a Lenten agape meal...everyone sits and enjoys a 12 dish Lenten meal and sings Christmas carols and enjoys fellowship with their extended families.

January 7 - in church for Liturgy, followed by caroling around town!  ...then home for a meal and presents.
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2012, 06:49:23 PM »

According to the rubrics I have, this is the "proper" way:

If Christmas falls on Tuesday-Saturday:

December 23 (Sun-Thu)
- Vespers (Forefeast)
- Great Compline (Forefeast)

December 24 (Mon-Fri)
- Matins (Forefeast)
- Royal Hours and Typica
- Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil
- Great Compline

December 25 (Tues-Sat)
- Matins
- Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

If Christmas falls on Sunday:

December 23 (Fri)
- Royal Hours & Typica
- Vespers (Forefeast)

December 24 (Sat)
- Matins (Forefeast)
- Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
- Vespers

December 25 (Sun)
- Matins
- Liturgy of St. Basil

If Christmas falls on Monday:

December 22 (Fri)
- Royal Hours & Typica

December 23 (Sat)
- Vespers (Forefeast + Sunday Before Nativity combined)

December 24 (Sun)
- Matins (Forefeast + Sunday Before Nativity combined)
- Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
- Vespers

December 25 (Mon)
- Matins
- Liturgy of St. Basil
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2012, 06:50:35 PM »

^ That being said, at my parish we usually only do the Christmas morning liturgy, at midnight. Basically the same as Pascha.

No Vesperal liturgy or other services. Even if it falls on a Sunday.

It's unfortunate.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2012, 06:54:05 PM by age234 » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2012, 07:43:47 PM »

^ That being said, at my parish we usually only do the Christmas morning liturgy, at midnight. Basically the same as Pascha.

No Vesperal liturgy or other services. Even if it falls on a Sunday.

It's unfortunate.
I appreciate hearing this. We have one priest, one altar server-in-training (adult), three male chanters who fill in for everything. That's it. So that's why we need to limit the number of services. It's a stretch for us to have services every Wednesday evening as well, beginning Nov 14, but it's worth it. Also, in our rented space we have to set up and take down at every service. Guess who does that! That's why I want the services to be the best that we can make them - to encourage growth and participation.

How does your crowd at the Christmas service compare with a regular Sunday morning?
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2012, 07:55:07 PM »

wow, you guys plan so far ahead! we didn't even start the fast yet.

wishing u all the peace and joy of the Christmas fast, may God guide u in yr service planning.
maybe u could have a service of the prayer book with a subdeacon or reader, so the priest doesn't have to be there for all services?
u could follow it with a presentation of the church and suitable (fasting or non fasting, depending when u do it) refreshments.
if u have a big hall, u could set up a ping pong table or some other activities after, so people can chill out after and also learn more about the church as they sit and chat.
Thank you for your encouragement.

Yes, we do like to get started planning for major events. There are so few of us involved that we need to give ourselves lots of time. It's not like we can recruit additional people to pitch in at this time. See my post above to age234 to see the challenges.

We have done reader's services before on some occasions. We've even been more creative than that. Back in August at Dormition, our priest was unable to be present for anything at all, so we chanters simply invited the congregation to our usual weekly practice, and we sang some of the hymns that we would have sung in the services. There was really no structure at all, except that we did say Evening Prayers from the prayer book. We had about 8 people show up for that. It was quite informal, and we all enjoyed ourselves. After about 45 minutes, most left, and we continued with our regular practice for the following Sunday.

We still need to get to work on planning a social event for the Christmas season. The likely time will be the Friday or Saturday evening that follows Christmas. We'll have a potluck supper and whatever afterwards. The timing will be dependent upon the availability of the hall we rent. (Our deal is that we rent by the week - we have priority on Sunday mornings, and we can have the hall any other time during the week that it isn't booked otherwise with no additional cost to us.)
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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2012, 04:08:52 AM »

also you could invite some of the neighbours who have not been to an orthodox church before.
when my church invited the neighbours we made leaflets on the computer and distributed them.
maybe a local shop would allow you to advertise there as well.

there are a lot of people on this website, maybe some could help you design your leaflet, if you need help?
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2012, 11:48:00 AM »


I'll be happy to make the flyer, if you need one.
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2012, 04:41:09 AM »

I don't know of any Churches which only do the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on the 24th of December.  My experience is:

1. Small parishes do only Festal Liturgy on 25th December (mostly during the day)

2. Larger/more established parishes do the Vigil (Great Compline + Matins) on the evening of 24th + Festal Liturgy on morning 25th December, or else one combined service Vigil + Festal Liturgy around midnight 24->25th December.  Sometimes Compline starts at midnight, sometimes it is arranged so that the Liturgy will start at midnight - I believe I have even seen it arranged so that he distribution of Communion occurs at midnight.

3. Even more estabished/active parishes do number 2 + Vesperal Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2012, 04:34:48 PM »

I suppose it's only proper for me to tell you how things have worked out.

I did tell my priest that I was disappointed he announced only the VDL for Christmas without some discussion. Following that he did go and talk to some of the congregation (I know some but not all he spoke to) and he came back to me a week or two later rather surprised having found that people really do want a Christmas Day Festal Liturgy! However, instead of going with just the morning service, he refuses to give up the VDL, so we'll be having both. It will be a test of stamina for the few of us who are capable of leading, but at least we're having it! He did not offer the option of the midnight service as many of you have described. I still think that service would be the best one for inviting non-Orthodox family and friends. I'll be trying to spread word about that option as time goes on, and maybe get others to press for it.

One thing I did appreciate is that he announced Orthros to start a half hour earlier than usual, so I'm hoping that means few abbreviations.
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