New church website and a busy weekend ahead
Our parish, the Orthodox Church of St Nicholas of Japan in Brixton, Johannesburg, has a brand-new web site at Saint Nicholas Of Japan Orthodox Christian Church in Brixton, Johannesburg, South Africa and they are soliciting comments on it.
It’s up just in time for our Panigyri — that’s Patronal Festival in English. St Nicholas’s feast day is on 3 February, which was Wednesday last week in the new calendar and Tuesday next week in the old calendar, so we’re having it in between, and also on the only Sunday the archbishop could come.
So there’ll be Vespers tonight (Saturday) at 6:30 pm, followed by a bit of a party (meatless, because this is Cheesefare Week, the last week before Lent). All welcome to join in.
Then on Sunday morning there will be Divine Liturgy, with the Archbishop present. We won’t be there, because it’s our weekend to go to Mamelodi.
And then on Sunday evening at 6:30 is the Vespers of Forgiveness, which marks the beginning of Great Lent. Halfway through the service the altar frontal and clergy vestments are changed from white to purple (or another dark colour), if available. The music changes to a minor key, and at the end of the service all in the congregation ask for forgiveness from each other. That is always a profoundly moving service, and in our parish it is one of the highlights of the liturgical year, and has been for the last twenty years. It is always surprising to discover that many other parishes in the diocese don’t make much of it, or don’t have it at all.
And after the Vespers of Forgiveness the strict fast begins, with the first week being the strictest of all, with nuts and twigs being about all one should eat, and, if one is really strict about it, only on Wednesday and Friday evening after the Liturgy of the Presanctified.
At St Nicholas the Liturgy of the Presanctified is on Wednesday evenings, and afterwards we have an agape meal. In the past during the meal someone has read a text from the Fathers, as is done in monasteries, but this year we will be having Bible studies led by John Burnett, who blogs at Analogion. Now that John is here, I suppose he should be counted as a South African Christian blogger too.
Oh, and back to the parish web page. I’m glad to see it looking so good. It’s come a long way since my feeble efforts of a few years ago. My only criticism is that the new site is not in normal HTML, but relies heavily on graphics programs like Shockwave and Flash, which takes a while to load, and consume a lot of bandwidth — my browser has a “No script” device, which automatically blocks such things, and I have to switch it off specially to see the page. But it’s looking good.