Tuesday, November 29, 2016

McKenzie Kielman on Church Service at the Orthodox Greek Cathedral

            I would be lying if I said My Big Fat Greek Wedding wasn’t tucked in the back of mind as I entered the church that fateful Sunday morning.  As I walked out, my mind was filled with the many similarities of this visit to the others this semester to the Hindu temple, the Catholic mass exclusively in Spanish, and the Jewish synagogue. 
            When entering where the service was held, there was a beautiful dome with iconic scenes painted on the ceiling.  At the front were figures of prominent persons, but the largest image in the whole place was surprisingly Mother Mary.  Once putting a little more thought into it, it seemed logical.  With Greece being in Europe, the saints and Mary in particular hold a much larger role than for other Christian communities.  The statues and even murals were comparable to the deities in the Hindu temple.
            The mass, true to its origin, was in both English and Greek.  We had earlier in the semester gone to a Catholic mass in Spanish alone, but this service was actually harder to follow along with.  They would go for full sections, pages in the book we tried to use to follow along with, and then circle back to do it in English.  A kind woman, Eileen, sat in front of us and helped us along.  An interesting aspect of the service with the constant music.  Even at the end of spoken readings, they would do the last sentences singing.  The choir did a beautiful job and the dome created excellent acoustics. 
            Lastly was the sense of community.  After the two-hour service, the congregation joined together for coffee and food.  It was fun to see the families co-mingling.  Our new friend, Eileen, explained that most of the congregation does have a familial connection with Greece.  Much of the regulars in attendance do speak Greek, and that made me think of the community of the Jewish synagogue.  Both have a non-required, but suggested, heritage; this creates a unique dynamic within the church.  I loved being able to be a part of it for a day. 
            I wasn’t expecting to find so many connections to my other experiences, but it was fun to see ways in which these religions or circumstances related, especially considering how diverse they seemed.  We spent some of our Denver semester talking about inter-faith initiatives, and I think this helps show that there is much common ground that maybe isn’t considered.  I feel more equipped with knowledge as I encounter more persons of diverse religious backgrounds. 

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