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Meeting Christ in Vespers January 23, 2011

Posted by daniel ayad in History & Tradition.
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Meeting Christ in Vespers

 

Transcribed by: Fr Anthony St Shenouda

I recently heard this sermon by Bishop Raphael who is an auxiliary bishop in down town Cairo. He is also an assistant to H.G. Bishop Mousa, bishop of youth affairs. When I first heard this sermon, attending vespers was never the same, and I’m sure it will have the same affect on you.

 

“As I am sure that you all know that when we go to church, we go to meet with our Lord Jesus Christ. This is clearly shown in every action, every prayer and response of the deacon as we will see below. I want you to imagine with me this scenario. When you are going to Vespers or Matins it is like a father (Jesus Christ) who is coming from overseas to see his sons and daughters (the Congregation) whom he has not seen in a long time.

The first thing a priest does when he enters the church is that the priest after he opens the curtain of the Altar (which represents Heaven) to reveal to the congregation that the father whom they come to meet is here. Then he and the congregation do a prostration to Christ who dwells in the Holy of Holies. Saying “we worship you Christ with your Good Father and the Holy Spirit for you have come and saved us.” The same way when we see a bishop who is a representative of Christ on earth, we make a prostration.

Once we (the sons) see their father they quickly start by thanking him for coming to this banquet saying: “we thank you for every condition …” the sons (deacons) then go on singing the verses of symbols to invite the rest of the brothers and sisters the saints, to attend this great banquet with their heavenly father. Then the priest reads out the apologies of those who could not attend this gathering by reading the litanies of the travelers, and of the sick.  

The Father then gets up to give his sons and daughters a word, which is symbolised in the reading of the gospel. Then the sons and daughters take this great chance to ask what they want from their heavenly father in the litanies. So they ask for ‘the peace of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church of God’, for the patriarchs and bishops, for ‘this city and all cities’, for the ‘air of the heaven and the fruit of the earth’ and the ‘waters of the rivers.’

Finally we ask the father to remember this gathering of ours and to make it ‘without obstacle or hindrance’ and that this congregation may be in blessing thousands of thousands and ten thousand time ten thousands doing your will.’ Then the priest gives the final blessing to the congregation saying ‘go in peace, the peace of the Lord be with you all’ until next time.

If we do not go into the vesper prayer with this in mind, then the prayer is reduced to saying the right hymn or getting the right tune, without the great blessing of meeting our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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