Incense

Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee

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From Old Testament times believers have burned incense as an offering when worshiping God. The ancient temple in Jerusalem even had priests whose sole duty was to keep the censer burning twenty-four hours a day.

Ancient pagan kings were often escorted with large fans of peacock feathers and burning incense when entering their palaces. Early Christians took both these symbols for their worship in recognition of Christ as their Sovereign King and Lord. To this day the Orthodox Church uses incense in most of her services, and large circular fans, reminiscent of the peacock fans of ancient times, are held over the Gospel book during the proclamation of God’s word during celebrations of the Divine Liturgy.

As a young man attending my very first Orthodox Liturgy, I was struck by the use of incense. The words of the Psalmist King David, “Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee…”, is chanted during every celebration of Vespers during the censing of the temple. During every service where there is a great censing of the whole church, the priest (or deacon) censes the frescoes and icons as windows into eternity, as the incense wafts upward as an offering of the people of God.

The people are also censed by the priest in recognition of their having been created in the image and likeness of their Creator God. Incense is so central in Christian worship that it is even used in the worship of the domestic church, where the family gathers in prayer around their own icons, reading the scriptures together, and offering their family prayers to the Lord.

“Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee.” Psalm 141:2

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday June 10, 2016 / May 28, 2016
Afterfeast of the Ascension. Tone five.
Fast. Fish Allowed

Venerable Nicetas, bishop of Chalcedon (9th c.).
St. Ignatius, bishop and wonderworker of Rostov (1288).
Venerable Helen of Diveyevo (1832).
New Hieromartyr Macarius, Dyonisius, Hieromartyr Nicholas deacon, Martyrs Ignatius and Peter (1931).
New Hieromartyr Heraclius confessor (1936).
Virgin-Martyr Hermogenas (1942).
St. Eutychius, bishop of Melitene (1st c.).
Martyrs Heliconis and Dapni of Thessalonica (244).
Hieromartyr Helladius, bishop in the East (6th-7th c.).
“Nikeysky” (304), “Chukhlomsky” (Galich) (1350), “Orlovsky”, “Antiochsky” and “Tenderness” Icons of the Mother of God.
New Martyr Mitros (Demetrius) of Tripolitsa (1794) (Greek).
New Hieromartyr Zachariah of Prusa (1802) (Greek).
Venerable Sophronius, monk, of Bulgaria (1510) (Bulgaria).
St. Germanus, bishop of Paris (576) (Gaul).
Martyrs Crescens, Paul, and Dioscorides of Rome (326) (Greek).
St. William of Languedoc (812) (Gaul).
St. Gerontius, metropolitan of Moscow (1489).
St. Andrew the fool-for-Christ of Constantinople (911).

Scripture Readings

Acts 19:1-8

Paul at Ephesus

19 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”

So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.

John 14:1-11

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it werenot so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The Father Revealed

7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Father Tryphon is abbot of the All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Rt. Rev. Bishop Theodosy of Seattle, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

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