22. Greatest Liturgy in the humblest place

People, everyday people, are attracted to beautiful things, even if such beauty is skin deep. This is why sometimes people can be deluded by the temptations of the evil one, when it presents superficially attractive offers and things, in exchange for our lapses into darkness.

And yet, in the same manner our Christ and Lord came into the world in a quiet, humble place, His Light, His Truth, and His Salvation for us, will never be hidden away. Those of us who have eyes to see and ears to listen (Psalm 119:18), will gravitate towards our Lord and Savior, no matter what it seems.

Fr Tikhon had to accompany Fr Boniface to Diveyevo, an area where all the presence and glory of the physical Church was destroyed by the communists in the Soviet regime, to tend to the spiritual needs of some nuns there.

Fr Tikhon, on arriving at the ravaged location, found the illumination of God, and His Church, very much present, and felt the Truth in the words in Philippians 4:13. He then recounted the most wonderful and blessed Liturgy he attended, in an old bathhouse that was not even a church.

He saw a few old nuns, wearing simple country clothing to disguise their religious vocation. And yet, Fr Tikhon knew that these were courageous Christian confessors who would sooner die for their faith in God, then to renounce their faith. Despite all their suffering in that ravaged place, they stuck to their faith.

And then Fr Tikhon saw Fr Boniface, a well respected priest, went down on his knees to bless these old nuns and bowed very low on the floor to them. Fr Boniface respected these nuns, and knew them to be true living martyrs and saints.

When Fr Boniface celebrated the Liturgy in darkness, the old nuns sang the hymns beautifully in candlelight, like angels. Fr Tikhon said that no words could describe that service.

Many years ago, I too lived through a similar experience. I was new to the beautiful, oldest Church in our locale, the Armenian Apostolic Church of St Gregory the Illuminator. I led a Liturgy in the evening once, when the power went out. In the darkness, the few of us stood around each other, and in the light of a friend’s mobile phone, we carried on our worship to completion. It was surreal, it was reverent, and I felt a quietness and stillness I remembered to this day. It was, to me, one of the most illuminating and most blessed worship I have ever experienced.

There is in darkness, light from God for us to discern and find. There is in distractions and noise from the world, the subtle voice of God for us to listen, when our hearts become still and humble (Psalm 46:10). There is beauty that can only come from God, when we brush aside our yearning for superficiality. And then, there it is, the beauty and light from God all along (Isaiah 40:31). God is everywhere, and we will find Him wherever and whenever we stop, humble ourselves, and start praying.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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