Is my own parish the only one where worshippers are--how do I put this--well, lazy? Aside from reciting the Nicene Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and a few spoken responses to the priest, almost the entire congregation seems content to just stand there staring straight ahead for the better part of ninety minutes. Aside from a mere sprinkling of folks, the laity seem content to just listen to the choir. I don't get it. Are people just too embarrassed to sing aloud? Granted I tend to do so rather quietly (I wouldn't want to damage those gorgeous windows), but can we at least see some lips moving out there? True, the growth of the number of converts has contributed to the language barrier but it is the phrase "Kyrie Eleison" really that tough? Worse, most of the seniors who attend, who still speak Greek as their first language seem not to say a single word.
What really bothers me is that the majority don't even bother with the numerous supplications of "Lord have mercy" or "Grant it, O Lord". This is worship? There should be a lot more to it than just crossing oneself every few minutes. I have a hard time reconciling what I've seen every Sunday for so many years with the vibrant image in my head of what must have taken place inside Hagia Sophia in the tenth century. Much as I hate to admit it, I think we could learn a lot from Protestants when it comes to really putting our heart and soul into our worship, rather than just letting the priest, psalter, and choir do everything for us. Even at midnight Pascha services, I've noticed that our priest has to occasionally remind everyone to sing "Christos Anesti". That's not exactly conducive to the enticement of non-Orthodox attendees who are being introduced to Orthodoxy. In fact, it's an embarrassment.
This might bother me a lot less if the same people who are so liturgically tight-lipped didn't start babbling loudly amongst themselves when the Holy Eucharist is being distributed. As the apex of true Christian worship shouldn't this be the most solemn and respectful time to observe? The same thing occurs afterward when the antidoron is being given out.
I don't think that this is a characteristic exclusive to my church. Is this a source of irritation for anyone else?