If you are part of a Western church that tries to live into the Church year, Protestant or Catholic, you know that in Advent there is a battle afoot. Our churches tell us to focus on Advent. Advent is the ramp-up to Christmas. This season is about waiting for Christ to come — remembering Christmas […]
First Visit to an Orthodox Church (pt. 4): Jazz vs Ballads
I asked one Orthodox priest what he thought the typical newcomer would experience when visiting the Liturgy. His response: Chaos! He was joking. His congregation has a lot of free-range children. But I think he was right. Once the service begins in that icon-filled space, your typical Protestant is hard pressed to make much sense […]
One of the Lenten services I’ve experienced in the last couple of years is the Orthodox “Great Compline.” I’ve known the Western version of Compline very well for a very long time. In the West, Compline is the last of the monastic hours, a short gentle service, maybe 20 minutes of brief prayers and Psalms, […]
What Was Holy Saturday About?
Christ is risen! That really makes all the difference. Or at least we know that it should. My fellow Protestants, as I’ve noted before, have a hard time really focusing in on just how Christ’s resurrection makes the difference. We are so committed to preaching only “Christ and him crucified” that we find ourselves inextricably […]
Celebrating the Birth of Jesus with His Mother
During Advent I went one Wednesday night to St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Pittsburgh. I was surprised to hear a service that was new to me: Not the ordinary Vespers, but the “Advent Paraklesis.” As in so much of Orthodox worship, the hymns carry a huge freight of theology. As always there is much […]