1) Why does the congregation turn and follow either a priest who walks around the inside of the church and censes during Vespers or the priest who walks around the congregation (during the Great Entrance?) with the bread and wine before it is consecrated?
2) What is the religious significance of kissing things (icons, the cross at the blessing) for the Orthodox? Is it part of Eastern culture or part of the faith? I was just curious because Catholics aren't so "kissy" so to speak.
I don't think this is a bad thing or wrong by any means, just curious about it.
3) What is the significance of bowing to one other or to the icons in Orthodox? Again, is this part of the faith, or part of Eastern culture.
Dear-to-Christ Protestant seeker,
I will offer some thoughts on your points above:
1: When you say follow I don't think you mean walk around with, right? Well, the censing is a reverance, so unless you are doing something else or it is impossible you probably would not want to have your back to what is being reverenced. I heard or read somewhere that the proper gesture was to bow toward the object/person being reverenced as does the one doing the censing, this however is not seen much in practice in this country. Also, the turning seems to be much more a Russian than Greek or any other ethnic custom. As for the entrance, it seems to be attention to what is going on, why would you want to look away?
2: Kissing is a way of showing love. As Orthodoxy spread from the Mediterranean basin it wook with it some gestures, such as kissing. And while you are right that modern RCs tend to not be so kissy I used to be in an RC parish that had a devotion to St. Anthony and they exposed a relic for veneration once a week and at the end of the devotion everyone lined up to go kiss the reliquiary. So it is still kissy in some places for some things.
3: Bowing comes, as I understand it, from Byzantine court gestures as the genuflection from Roman. It is a sign of respect and deference.
I don't know if any of this helps or if it is oversimplified or redundant.