Monday, January 23, 2006

Just Another Sunday

So yesterday we had a pretty interesting Sunday at our Church. 1) Krista and I became Readers & 2) a loud fire alarm almost derailed the Liturgy.

On the Eve of Theophany, a couple of weeks ago, Fr. Dennis asked me if I was ready to formally become a Reader in the Church. Both Krista and I have been reading for some time in services - her since she was about nine years old at Holy Resurrection in Saskatoon, and me, just since being at St. Hermans here in Edmonton. So he thought this might be a good time for her to receive the Bishop's blessing for this ministry as well. So yesterday I was tonsured and Krista was blessed as a Reader. In the ancient Church, this was a very important role, as it was not only meant as a way for people to hear the Scriptures, but also Readers were charged with physically safeguarding the scrolls and books of Scripture, and as a result were often the first to be hunted down in times of persecution. Krista's Mom, after serving as a music director for 30 years or so, was also blessed as a reader, along with a few other ladies. Fr. Michael's son, Symeon, was also tonsured.

Here are some pictures:

Bishop Seraphim trims a small piece of my hair. In the ancient world, this was an action connected to the making of bond-servants.

His Grace lays his hand on my head and prays for me. The red garment is a small 'phelonian' which Readers wear.

After this, the Bishop places the book with the writings of the Apostle Paul on the head of the Reader, and opens it at random, assigning the Reader a small portion of Scripture to read. I'm told this used to be a test to see if the person was actually literate! I was assigned Galatians 3.16-29. Krista's Dad, Fr. Phillip, can be seen in the background.

After this, Bishop Seraphim clothed Symeon and I in these white robes called "sticharia," (I think that's what they're called) and together we washed His Grace's hands prior to the official "beginning" of the Divine Liturgy.

The Blessing of the ladies as Readers was similar but unique from the rite for tonsuring. His Grace gave the Blessing by raising his hands above all the five ladies' heads.

The Bishop assigns an Epistle reading to Krista as a newly blessed Reader.

Krista chants the Epistle reading.

His Grace challenged all of us, and gave us the responsibility to study the Scriptures daily. So it is our hope that we'll be able to serve God faithfully as Readers. All our praying friends out there... remember us!

BUT wait! That is only the beginning! Later in the Liturgy, right as the Holy Eucharist was about to be given out… the fire alarm went off! This has NEVER happened at St. Herman's before! It was really quite surprising and extremely loud – ringing bells. But our music director Greg just kept everyone singing… but some people were naturally unsure of what to do. One lady was urging everyone to exit the building – “We have to go outside! The fire department will fine us!” And meanwhile the Deacons were standing there with the Chalices in hand, and Bishop Seraphim then did this amazing thing. Everywhere people were wondering what to do. Some were already filing outside… and His Grace clapped his hands three times really loudly from the Royal Doors, and the Deacon said “In the fear of God, with faith and love draw near…” and the lady was saying to him “We have to go outside, the fire department will charge us!” And Bishop Seraphim said, loudly, clearly, and calmly, “Who cares!?” It was great. So we immediately came to Communion and, almost right away, the bell got shut off. Apparently someone had burned some garlic toast downstairs! So you could say it was a Sunday we will not soon forget.

Please disregard the double post below... For some reason you can't put comments on. I ran into some technical Blogger difficulties, that won't allow me to erase it.

- Matthew


Blogger Krista said...

Okay... I posted this using Krista's account and it worked!

4:17 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

Good Ol' Bishop Seraphim. Being himself. "Who cares" Exactly. Wonderful. It makes me smile.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Mira-cle said...

That is such a wonderful story!!! Thank you for sharing it. I love it! What drama from the twits of darkness!!! How silly of them! they should have known better with Bishop Seraphim around especially.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

Yep! I guess it was natural for some people to be disoriented in such a strange situation. But you guys are so right... and Bishop Seraphim reminded us powerfully of what really matters!

Thanks again for your help this weekend Mira! : )

10:41 PM  
Blogger Rainey said...

Congratulations on becoming a Reader. I appreciate the way responsibility is invested in that role.

I'm now on the rota for giving a homily at the Word and Table service at longsight. The amount attending has increased due to the Russian students who enjoy it.

6:56 AM  
Blogger James said...

Many years to you both, Matt and Krista! Hey, and I think I heard they need readers in the Yukon.

9:24 AM  
Blogger kimberley said...

I love this story so much. It makes me think of "your of your own we offer to you"...

Bishop Seraphim blessing children of God to read God's Good News.

It encourages me so much to hear these stories of Bishop Seraphim.
Calm. Wise. Fun. Responsible.

9:36 AM  
Blogger myn said...

That is FABULOUS!!! i would have been one of those standing there unsure of what to do. funny that i have never thought about those practicalities happening has always felt so removed from those pesky life annoyances! i have been called out of my room/school/wherever many times because of fire alarms...but i can't imagine it happening at church! Yay for Bishop Seraphim!

4:08 PM  
Blogger James said...

And speaking of Bishop Seraphim stories, I want (nay, demand) a detailed post reporting on the birthday festivities in Edmonton. (Which I do not doubt you will deliver bountifully.)

7:59 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

I'm a little off but your post title makes the song "Manic Monday" go through my head.

6:22 PM  
Blogger kimberley said...

ah the bangles. brings back grade six.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

A little side note to add to Matthew & Krista's telling of the story: Later on, one of the ladies at church commented to His Grace how much Fr. John would have gotten a kick out of our impromtu fire drill (Fr. John Scratch, who fell asleep in the Lord last Sunday morning, was apparently quite the trickster). His Grace replied that he wouldn't be surprise if Father himself had pulled it!

8:12 PM  
Blogger churchmouse said...

Bishop Serephim really is a true Bishop. We had a similary, though much more serious experience, here at the cathedral about a week ago. An elderly lady began to have a (minor) heart attack just around the time the anaphora was being read. We have at least two doctors in our parish, so one of them was immediately quietly talking with professional detail to 9-1-1 on a cell phone, while our Bishop calmly proceeded with the service. It prevented everyone from flocking around the ailing woman. The Bishop then came down from the altar all the way down to the lady, communed her, blessed her, then proceeded with communing everyone else as if it was nothing to worry about. The paramedics came and very discreetly brought her out of the sanctuary with a fellow parishioner to the hospital. And the service just went on. In this case it wasn't so much striking in terms of "what is really important," but I was so impressed by Vlakyka's calm handling of a crisis, and the complete trust and faith that doing "the one thing needful" is really the best thing to do in times of emergency, on so many levels.

1:48 PM  

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