Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bowing and Kissing

The Orthodox do plenty of bowing in church. There are, I think, three different times during the Divine Liturgy when the priest bows before the people, and the people bow back. We also bow to persons we pass. We bow whenever the priest censes us, as the appropriate posture for receiving God's blessing. We bow before one another when asking forgiveness. We bow before icons to greet the saint depicted, and/or to humble ourselves before the saint or the event depicted.

We do a lot of kissing, too. We kiss one another. We kiss the book of the Gospels, we kiss the cross, we kiss the chalice, we kiss the priest's hand, we kiss icons.

If bowing or kissing meant worshipping, we'd be polytheists for sure, and some very strange gods we'd have, too!


Dixie said...

A lot of this is cultural, too...when we North Americans see all this in the Orthodox Church it is so far from our actual cultural experience but the Greek culture was informed by Orthodoxy so it naturally / culturally makes more sense to a Greek.

I had one of those light bult moments this morning. A photo I thought I had lost (due to some cropping experimentation) of my husband, our boys, my mother and myself showed up in another folder. I had made two copies of a series of photos and didn't realize it. When I thought I lost the photo I was so sad since it really is irreplacable now that my mother is gone but when I found it this morning I wanted to kiss my mother on the computer screen! I didn't because...well, we don't kiss computer screens but I got a genuine sense of the desire.

It's a shame I don't naturally have that for icons yet. I suspect it will come but it will take a while for this stoic German influenced skin to be shed.

DebD said...

I just loved what Dixie said...very poignant.

However, I wanted to commend to you Fr. John Finley's podcast over at AFR titled "The Physical side of Worship". Actually, I've been enjoying many of his podcasts this last week.