Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dinner With The Bishop and Church Beforehand

Being an Orthodox Christian it isn't unusual to have a bishop show up for special events, especially now that we have an actual American bishop who is just in Toledo, Ohio. This man travels to over a hundred Churches in his area and last night Bishop M came to celebrate St. Andrew's Day with us. Saint Andrew is our parish's patron saint as well as the name of our Church. Usually we don't celebrate Saint Andrew's Day on the day because of conflicting schedules, but yesterday was the eve of Saint Andrew's Day and we actually got to celebrate it with the Bishop!

Bishop M is a soft spoken man. He has kind eyes and comes out into the congregation to give his homilies. Even though he is quiet and kind I don't believe I would want to push him to the other side he must have. I think it could actually prove frightening. After all, he is a Bishop of the Orthodox Church.

Last night half of the service, or a good portion of the service, was done in Arabic. I had not experienced that before. It was wonderful to hear. My ear picked up the cadence so quickly and I loved how the hymns sounded. The only bad thing, and I am almost ashamed to say it, was a visiting priest (an archpriest no less) who was back where I sit and each and every time I tried to pray seriously he would talk to his friend and hearing whisperings and the hissings of whisperings made it difficult to concentrate on what I was trying to pray about or to even pay attention to the service itself. It became SO bad that I actually thought of shushing the priest! But, what is the protocol for that? Was it allowed? If it had been anyone else I know I would have shushed them, but should I have gone ahead and done so to a priest? When service was over we went to a wonderful place called Equine Woods Country Club for dinner with the bishop.

It was a beautiful place, as I expected it would be since it was a country club after all. The bishop and priests had a table all to themselves in the very center of the other tables, and myself and B and some others found ourselves at a very interesting, and it turns out, pivotal table. We were the first ones after the Bishop and priests to get out food.

The tables were formal and it was beautiful to behold them. I loved the meal and it was quite warm and almost cozy in the dining hall we were in, which was different from what I truly expected. It was almost as if we had been having a very formal dinner in a friend's home. Christmas music wafted over the room and added the perfect touch to the conversation which ranged from humor to serious and somewhere in between.

As I was looking around the room it was plain there were not many people there from Saint Andrew's in number, but the ones who were there were people I knew, people I talked to every Sunday or whenever we happened to be together. I felt as if I had family at every table, not just acquaintances, but real family, people I could go to if I needed something, even if that something was a shoulder to lean on for just a short time.

Dinner with the bishop made me appreciate even more the Church family relationship I hadn't fully expected to develop, and I am thankful for it.

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