I went to Orthros and Divine Liturgy this last Tuesday for the feast day of St. Cyril and St. Athanasios. I got there about ten minutes early (unorthodox, I know), and the doors were still locked, so I rang the bell. The secretary let me in, apparently unaware that there was another liturgy after having one Monday morning. She told me Father wasn’t there yet.
I went into the church to wait, and after reverencing the icon of Christ, I sat to pray for awhile. I was filled with the sense of my unworthiness to be graced with such a church, and tears filled my eyes. I sat, and thought, “I am here all alone.” At that moment, it hit me. I was surrounded… there was the Theotokos, and John the Baptist, St. Cyril, St. Constantine, St. Basil, and many, many more. I was surrounded by the saints. At this, the sense of unworthiness deepened. “How shall I, who am unworthy, enter into the splendor of Your saints? If I dare to enter into the bridal chamber, my clothing will accuse me, since it is not a wedding garment; and being bound up, I shall be cast out by the angels. In Your love, Lord, cleanse my soul and save me.”
Father L. came in with J., who was reading that morning, about fifteen minutes late. He greeted me warmly, and asked if I could do something for him. I had no idea what request was to come, but said “yes” unhesitatingly. He pointed out there had been a liturgy yesterday, and the cleaning service hadn’t been in yet, and would I please sweep the floor of crumbs (from the antitheron) while he finished his preparations?
He and I went into one of the vestment rooms and he handed me the crumb sweeper. As I started, the old (Anglican) prayer came to mind, “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.” Again my eyes brimmed over. For five minutes or so I gathered up the crumbs. As I finished, Joan came over to me.
“Father would like you to read with me if you would like to.”
Grace flooded my soul, mind, and body as I followed Joan up to the lectern. I read the Psalms and alternated reading some other parts that were not chanted, sung the kyries and other standard sung responses and once we got to Divine Liturgy, I was able to sing the main hymns of the liturgy as well. It was, in a word, awesome. I so desire to learn to chant the rest that I can hardly stand it.
I still felt unworthy, but it no longer mattered. We are all unworthy, but we have a Lord who is worthy, and that is enough for me.
I do still have a job, for those who were wondering, although a good friend with whom I’ve worked for over seven years was not so lucky. Please pray for C., and for the other thousands who lost their jobs last Saturday. (I probably just gave away where I work to those who follow business news…)