Takoma Park, MARYLAND – Father John (“of Patmos”) Johnson this morning served the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in a church containing only his wife Matushka Joanna (“the Baptist”) and their three children. The faithful of the Church of All Saints of Middle-Class North America (RumpOA) showed up en masse about ten minutes after the service ended. Father John was alone in his office, counting the offering.
“Father, why aren’t you serving the liturgy?” asked Marty (“St. Martin of Half-Priced Tours”) Blagovest, at the head of the delegation sent from the nave to find Father John. A chorus of “Yeah, why?s” rang from the host behind him.
“I started right on time at 9:00,” said Father John, looking up from his calculator.
“At 9:00?” asked Blagovest.
“Or, well, a bit after that,” Father admitted, turning a bit pink.
“What time have you got, Father?” asked Blagovest. The parishioners behind him looked at their watches and cell phones.
“11:00, why?” asked the good priest.
“It’s 10:00, Father. You forgot to set your clock back!”
Father John thought a moment. “But the Liturgy starts at 9:00,” he said thoughtfully. “Even given the time change, you should have been here an hour ago.”
The crowd fell silent. Blagovest shifted uncomfortably on his feet. “Since when are we ever on time anyway?” came a lone voice from the middle of the crowd. It was greeted immediately with hushing noises.
“Is outrage!” said Father Vasiliy Vasileivich of the Saints Boris and Gleb and Olga and Vladimir Orthodox Church (COROC*) of Sydney, Australia, via satellite phone. “Was it arriving late for Liturgy in nineteenth century Russia?”
“I don’t know, Father, was it?” asked Father John.
“Yes,” said Father Vasiliy. “I am afraid it was being so.”
“Nice of you to call, Father,” said Father John.
“Talk to you soon,” said Father Vasiliy, hanging up.
“I will be sure to start on time next Sunday,” said Father John to the throng. “Will you all be here on time?”
“Oh yes, absolutely,” said Blagovest, and the crowd called out its assent. As they were falling silent, one lone voice said, “I won’t!”
The crowd parted, and Matushka Joanna stood alone.
“Matushka!” said Father John reprovingly.
“Well, I’ll be here early, won’t I?” she said, adding with an evil grin, “or at least, as early as you are.”
Copyright © 2012 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
*Church Overseas of Russian Orthodox Christians