Originally Published: 2/2/2013
John Smith column 2/2/13: Enthronement service proves colorful, challenging
The phrase "Keep it simple" would be a good way to sum up Metropolitan
Tikhon's address to the faithful at his enthronement Sunday as the new
leader of the Orthodox Church in America.
However, the service in St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, was anything
but simple. It was colorful, challenging and complex. And it was long,
starting with a pealing of bells at 9 a.m. and ending with a happy
birthday song to a 94-year-old active parishioner at 12:30 p.m.
Metropolitan Tikhon, born Marc R. Mollard, is a 1984 graduate of
Wyomissing High School who now is archbishop of Washington and
metropolitan of All America and Canada, in the Russian church.
In his seven-minute address a third of the way through the service,
Tikhon noted that outsiders often find the Orthodox service complex, but
it is based "on a very simple commandment," and the complexity "helps us
focus on the one thing needful: to love God with all your heart and your
neighbor as yourself."
Recalling the recent Right to Life marchers, he marveled that on the way
they ignored a homeless man covered by newspapers.
"Focus on the light of Christ and follow the commandment to show love to
your neighbor and the stranger," he concluded.
The bells signaled the opening of the sanctuary door to a brief
procession of archbishops concluded by Tikhon, who was presented with
flowers and symbolic bread and salt. He then was disrobed by attendants
from his bishop's garb and re-robed with his metropolitan's garb.
He was flanked near the rear of the sanctuary by the bearded leaders of
the North American dioceses, seven on each side, in their colorful
garments of white and gold, with red in many crowns and one all in
black. Among the symbolic acts was the presentation of two candelabras
which he methodically waved to the congregation on all sides.
After prayers, chants and anthems and the personal greetings of the
archbishops, he moved to his throne at the front of the sanctuary.
The next part included Scripture, the reciting of the Orthodox creed,
more prayers and music. Periodically a lector would pray for
international and national bishops by name, always including the new
leader. Then came Communion, with a lengthy chant of praise.
Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit, senior archbishop, reminded the new
leader that he is not a supershepherd, but a symbol of unity and first
among equals, and that "the church and the flock are one body." In an
allusion to recent church problems, he challenged him to make peace.
He presented the metropolitan with his shepherd's staff. (The gospel
reading from Matthew had included, without announcement, the John
portion about the Good Shepherd.) Then came more flanking by the
archbishops, more prayers and everybody singing "God grant you many years."
Still to come, though, were greetings and gifts from four visitors from
other Orthodox communities, including one from Moscow who presumably
didn't understand "brief." Metropolitan Tikhon was moved by the
outpouring of love, pledging "to bear the cross on my shoulders."
The service was challenging, not only to the general congregation and
inductee, but to those with olfactory issues (clouds of incense were
released) or weak legs (the cathedral has no pews).
The music throughout was so outstanding I thought parts might be
recorded, which, it seems, is permissible at Washington installations. I
was strongly assured it was all live.
Contact John W. Smith: 610-371-5007 or jsmith@...