Today was the second occasion on which the United Reformed Church in Prestbury was transformed – for a few hours, at least – into our Orthodox temple, for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, and yet again, our service honoured the Mother of God.
Our last Cheltenham Liturgy was on the leave-taking of the Nativity of the Mother of God, and today saw our belated celebration of the feast of the Protecting Veil, with the icon of the Mother of God, spreading her omofor over the faithful in the Imperial church of the Blachernae, at the centre of our service.
Our worshippers were extremely patient waiting for the beginning of Liturgy, given the numbers of confessions and communicants, with Mikhail reading the Hours and Oswald reading the whole posledovanie (prayers before communion) in the time it took for confessions and proskomedia.
We are extremely grateful for Maria, Mikhail, Elliot and Olga for taking charge of the kliros, and for Oswald and Alexander serving in our temporary sanctuary.
It was wonderful to have worshippers from Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Glamorganshire, and to share such a prayerful Liturgy together, before enjoying lunch in the church-hall. We thank the sisters of the parish for preparing such delicious food, and for providing such beautiful flowers.
We commend our parish to the merciful protection and intercession of our Lady, rejoicing that it remains unswayed by the temptation of schism, and continues to experience the blessings of the Mother of God in its life.
We are all indebted to Father Deacon Mark for his work in making the Liturgy possible and being a source of day-to-day strength and support for our Cheltenham parishioners at a challenging time.
We wish him, Alla and Yuriy a restful and relaxing time in their forthcoming break in Corfu, asking them to bring the prayers of the Cheltenham parish to our beloved father, St Spyridon, the Wonderworker.
May God bless you all!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark