It’s a miracle! I’m waking up early in the morning!

This is a post from Holy Thursday that I didn’t have time to finish:

I don’t know what’s going on, and really, it’s probably only a minor miracle, because it’s not really that early (6:30 am), but somehow, I keep spontaneously waking up before the alarm goes off, and NOT falling back asleep again. Generally speaking, my alarm goes off at 6:45am during the week. I shlep out of bed and make Joey and Maddy’s lunches, then return to bed as quickly as I am able so I can snooze some more. Joey comes in and says goodbye at 7:15-ish. Then I snooze some more. Then up at 7:40 am to wake Maddy. Then, snooze until 8 am. She comes up for breakfast, I walk her to the bus stop, then my day begins. Lately, it begins with a yoga class three days a week. Sometimes, with coffee with my friend, Lesley (woohoo for coffee (and a soak!) today!!!).

Now, in all fairness to me (all you people rolling your eyes at my morning laziness, you who practically spring out of bed at the break of dawn. You know who you are.), I generally don’t go to bed until midnight. And except for the 30 minute rest I take almost every day after lunch, I tend to move constantly during the day. So trust me when I say, getting up early is an accomplishment for me! But I take no credit for yesterday or today, it’s just a great thing really. I woke up at 6:30 am, before the alarm went off, and I didn’t even a little bit, feel like going back to sleep. This HARDLY EVER happens. And I’m glad it did, because the next few days tend to be a whirlwind!

First, let’s back up a little and talk about Holy Thursday.  As I said, there are two services on Holy Thursday.  The first is what the kids and I have always call the Pancake Liturgy, although I’m almost positive that there is another, much more official sounding name for it. I’ll look it up on the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) website in a minute. Obviously, the Pancake Liturgy, as its name implies, is a morning service. The second service is the Service of the Twelve Gospels. Yep. That’s right! Twelve. Gospels. Now I know what some of you are thinking (well, I really don’t, but I can guess. In any case, I know what I’m thinking): Wow, really, TWELVE Gospels! That’s Amazing. That’s Incredible. That’s really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really long (twelve reallys, I counted).

So, just what is this Pancake Liturgy all about (besides the pancakes). Basically it is a Divine Liturgy, but a breakfast is served in the hall, following the liturgy, and every year pancakes are served, hence the term, “Pancake Liturgy.” This Divine Liturgy commemorates four specific events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. This is from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website:

“On Thursday of Holy Week four events are commemorated: the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.”

Of course, the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) and the betrayal of Christ are pivotal events, but I would like to say something about the washing of the disciples feet, and the agony in the garden.  These two events really speak to me about my own relationship with God and Christ.

We learn in the church to serve others. I try to practice serving others in my own way, mostly by cooking for my family, but also in the way I help my friends. Nonetheless, I must say that I get a fair amount of esteem out of doing this. Often, when serving, I am praised, or I simply feel good about myself for what I am doing. However, when I serve people in less glamorous ways, I often feel much less than willing. For instance, when one of the kids has the stomach flu, and I’m cleaning up the kitchen floor at three in the morning. There is definitely no one there to appreciate my service. And I am not necessarily feeling very giving. No, not feeling very giving at all. I am pretty much grumbling, and not really feeling like I want to serve at all!

The example that Christ sets for us in all things, in the Bible, is truly remarkable. He speaks to our very humanity and shows us the way by His own actions. As parents, we are taught that “actions speak louder than words,” and that we should “teach by example.” And that is exactly what Christ does for us. There’s a reason why we speak of “God, the Father.” Like any good parent, He leads by example and shows us, by Christ’s actions, what is good for us.

Christ knelt at the feet of His disciples and washed their feet.  Many people in American culture may not understand the significance of this action. In Middle Eastern culture, you could insult someone, simply by showing them the bottom of your feet. The only people who typically washed someone else’s feet were the lowliest servants in the household. So for Christ, the leader of all these men, to get down on His knees before them, and unstrap their sandals and wash their feet, was an act of utter humility in service. Not just service. Humble service. When I contemplate this Scripture, I am humbled by it. I am reminded of how utterly wrapped in pride so many of my acts of service are, and of how unwilling I am to perform what I consider to be tasks beneath me.

What I love about Christ crying out in the garden, is the real humanity of His cry, “Lord take this cup from Me.” But then He goes on to say, “yet not My will, but Yours be done.” It’s so hard to say to God, not my will, but Yours be done,” when what I REALLY mean is,”please let Your will be the same as mine!”  But as I stated in a previous post, I have learned the error of my arrogance, and so, even though I quite naturally FEEL the desire to have God go along with whatever harebrained scheme I’ve got in mind, I would really prefer to submit my will to His. Really. I would. But this passage is a great reminder of my natural tendency, that is, my NATURE, which is full of arrogance, and quite foolish optimism toward my ability to make healthy choices all by my lonesome!  

“Thank You Lord, for the examples You provide. Thank You for Your guidance, Your patience and Your love.”

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About Leila

I am a wife and mother. I am an Orthodox Christian. I am a yoga and fitness instructor and personal trainer. And I am a Syrian American with family living in Syria. My life is defined by my family, and right now, that means chronic worry and fear. Thank God for my faith and the support of my family and friends. I started this blog to talk about all sorts of things, but now I focus on Syria. Until this war is over, I, like all Syrians with a love for their country and their families, am a prisoner of this war, waiting to see what will be left after the dust settles. I pray for the safety of my family and for my country to survive and repair itself in the future. God willing.
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