This morning we went to our first service at the local OCA mission church. We left about an hour before we needed to, but stopped at Walmart to get some snacks for the baby and arrived on time, or thereabouts. Keeping A quiet during the service ended up being a daunting challenge, especially since Divine Liturgy began right about the time when she would usually be going down for her morning nap. The congregation was full of small children, a number right around her age, so we were able to follow their example - taking her out when she got too fussy, making liberal use of the changing table and fellowship hall, pulling out quiet toys to keep her amused and, when all else failed, letting the older congregants take turns holding her so she could examine their necklaces, scarves, glasses, etc.
I was surprised to find that I recognized some of the music from having listened to Ancient Faith Radio. I had assumed that the tunes were so foreign to me that I wouldn't be able to recognize them. I have since learned that the Russian tradition has a more western tuning than the Byzantine/Greek tradition.
I enjoyed the homily, though I caught myself thinking that the service would be ending soon after it finished. Silly me, I forgot about the whole Eucharist part. (I actually appreciate the fact that Communion is the focal point of Divine Liturgy, not the rushed afterthought that it is in so many Protestant services.)
Talking to Peter on the way home I related that it is hard for me to follow what is being said when it is being sung or chanted - I'm more apt to follow the melody. He suggested that next week we grab a copy of the Liturgy so I can follow along to some extent. We'll see how well that works.
The highlight of the morning was definitely the "coffee" hour after Liturgy. Yes there was coffee, and birthday cake, and brownies, and about six different main dishes, three types of potato salad, two types or rice and lots of bread. I think we met about half the church - parents of other small children, the choir director and his wife, the priest and his wife, and any number of other people who came by just to say hello. I'm not sure how much of this is an Orthodoxy thing, how much is the small church with obvious visitors, and how much is Southern Hospitality. I suppose it doesn't really matter. We felt welcomed and affirmed.
Over all, about as positive an experience as one could ask for.