Monday, July 05, 2010

Greeks, Orthodoxy, Icons and Music

Last weekend, I went to Rochester, MN for a handbell festival for Area VII of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. It was a great event, I learned quite a bit about handbells and handbell conducting. However, the highlight of the weekend was really on Monday morning and had nothing to do with handbells.

Monday morning, all the board members and conference committee members were leaving to head back to their respective homes and one of board members needed a ride back to her car parked a mile away at a church. I obliged.

After dropping her off, I saw the gold dome of a Greek Orthodox church. Seeing as I had nowhere to be for many hours, and I have been fascinated with both church architecture and all things Greek for many years, I drove towards it. When I saw that there were cars in the parking lot, I pulled in and walked towards the doors…all were locked up tight. Defeated, I turned to walk towards my car, but then I saw the “Office” door and a doorbell, so I rang it.

The church secretary gave me a personal tour of the sanctuary, but unfortunately the sanctuary was under renovation and there was scaffolding covering the dome of the room. The dome, she said, was where the best icons were. After she gave me a description of Orthodox worship and a little about her past life (recovering Catholic), I was going to leave when the pastor/priest/Father came in.

The Father asked me a couple of questions, but then said, “Wanna go up?” I stammered, “Uh, what?” He then repeated himself and in a few moments we were running up the rickety ladders, 100 feet in the air. Just a few feet from icons of the prophets and of Jesus, a dozen dozen feet in the air, we discussed theology, music, Greek and Church history, and translating the Bible. He was fascinating and then he sang some of their settings of the Liturgy for me, showing their notation (WAY different from Western notation). As I left, he handed me their hymnal (in Western notation) and asked me to come back for worship.

While I may never convert to Orthodoxy (I don’t get praying to pictures), but I will definitely find an Orthodox church some Sunday. I can’t wait. If you happen to find an Orthodox church, stop by… definitely the highlight of last weekend!

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