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Enthronement service proves colorful, challenging

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=449675 Originally Published: 2/2/2013 John Smith column 2/2/13: Enthronement service proves colorful, challenging The
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      http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=449675

      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@....
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