Since the weekend of His Grace's visit coincided with the commemoration of St Gregory Palamas, we had asked him to speak for a few minutes on hesychasm and the prayer of the heart which were major issues in St Gregory's life. His talk was very beneficial especially for our large group of recently baptized members to our parish. Since his last visit, we have been blessed to bring in over 10 people to the Orthodox Church. We have not seen His Grace for close to 2 years.
The visit began with vespers, but not before His Grace was “piped in” by a bagpiper (John Elliott, 11-year-old son of Fr George) playing “Amazing Grace”. His Grace enjoyed the unusual display of welcome. Bagpipes especially in England and Scotland have been used to usher in important persons. Their sound carries throughout the land far and wide so they are extremely effective at announcing the arrival of august persons most often either royalty or chieftans. How much more so that bagpipes be used to proclaim the arrival of God's servant, the bishop! On Sunday morning, His Grace was treated to being piped in with St Nicholai Velimirovich's Pascha melody “People rejoice!”. As the piper led him to the church playing the tune, Bishop Maxim sang along.
Liturgy was was beautiful but challenging as our parish is very out of practice with hierarchical liturgies. It was wonderful to hear the Serbian chanting of the bishop with the English chanting and singing of the parish choir. We were joined in celebrating by the nuns of St Xenia Skete and Fr Damascene and six monks from St Herman's.
After liturgy we had a wonderful meal prepared by some of our parish members. The food was wonderful and the fellowship was as well. Christ was truly in our midst! After the meal, some of our many children performed another tune by St Nicolai. His Grace treated us to a folk song from Montenegro.
Thanks be to God for a blessed weekend!