Last night I went to a joint Liturgy at St. George (one of the local parishes which only has occasional liturgies due to funding and size) for the Eve of St. George. I got their late. I always seem to arrive right at the Trisagion of Matins before the Liturgy proper begins. I was a little disconcerted because, though it was a joint service, it was definitely more for the "regular" parishioners at St. George than for either of the other two churches. That being said, I found my seat in a pew (still weird for me) and prepared my heart/mind for worship.
Everything was in Greek. Everything. I was also one of the the like four people who weren't Greek. So that's not so big of a deal. Let's just say that, where the Greek church from this past weekend was aware that there were non-Greeks in attendance, that didn't seem to make a difference at this church. I say all of this in love. God was definitely in that place last night. I was blessed to sit next to a man named Paul who was that guy who exists in every church: completely in love with and devoted to Christ. He moved to the back of the church so as not to bother people by standing or making deep bows while the majority of the crowd sat through a large portion of the service. I felt incredibly honored to be worshiping with him.
The service wasn't what I expected. Most of it was truncated. The Greek liturgy seems to be shorter and less complex than the Russian. If that's not true, or if there's a reason for that, let me know.
The church was beautifully decorated. St. George's icon was festooned with flowers of red and white, candles were let everywhere, and the pews were full! There were four celebrating priests and a deacon who--if there was any English--was the one who read/spoke it. There was a service at the end for blessing five loaves. I don't know what that was. I wasn't able to process the name, and the priest apparently mispronounced it, because one of the chanters corrected his Greek--which was kind of cute. It was a very nice service.
I am so glad that I went. There was a couple from our church (I love typing that) that I gravitated towards during the feast that followed. They commented that they had spent a long time in the other Greek parish, and how happy they were to be part of a church where they could understand everything that's going on. It's true. Worship in your heart language is really important. I'm glad that Greek, Arabic, Russian, Bulgarian, etc. are all languages of Orthodoxy and that there is unity between the Jurisdictions. I'm also glad that English is becoming a Liturgical language as well in the US.
I'm so glad to becoming part of this community of Orthodoxy. It's going to take quite a lot of getting used to, though. I need to learn how to navigate between Greek, Russian, and English, it seems. I'm really thankful for the work the OCA is doing by making Orthodoxy accessible to Americans. Having visited so many different churches over time, I'm ready to begin my journey in my own language. Please God, stay with us through all of this. Holy St. George, pray for us.