It took some time to restore, repair, renovate the compound of Saint Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas) Monastery and Church in the Old City, facing the Saint Benediktos Clinic of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Say, more than one year and a half; and there I am back to serve the Divine Liturgy. Last week, we were many, this week less, come and go is the motto for a Service and Prayer basically in Hebrew (at times some Yiddish, not much but still), Slavonic, Russian and anyone is welcome to use his/her language, also some ectenies (intercessions) in Arabic; most people of the compound that is not a monastery now are of Arab descent and natives, there are some Syrian-Orthodox. I have always tried to include, so far it makes sense on the day of the Celebration, the “Abun d’shmayo” (Our Father Prayer of the Lord) that is much appreciated by the Russians in Aramaic, esp. the clergy.
Few or some dozen or more people plus the visitors, the students, the Israelis Shabbat “internal tayarim, wanderers and pilgrims of their sort”. The opportunity to reach out to different expression, symphonic singing as Orthodoxy can be “symphonic”.
Ah yes, I am alive. This is not a joke. A foreign representative whom I had contacted sent to me an SMS that he had been told I had passed away and the nuns were praying for my repose. This is too cute, also very Jerusalem. And we do have too many “Father Aleksandr” in the region. The one who did die lived in the North and I had welcomed him when he had arrive in Israel with his matushka (wife) of Jewish descent. So, well, we prayed for his repose indeed and three parioshioners had met with him.
As for me, I am alive. Some people had been either disappointed or were waiting for some change, but you annot rebuild a falling out church dating to the first centuries of Christianity in a glimpse. It requires financial means and workers. Patriarch Theophilos has ascertained that I would return to serve at this church after the “repair” that will still take some time in different ways.
Is there a “secret” hope that this “Hebrew community” (not only because we do not focus on this, but on the many linguistic and cultural aspects of the Israeli society inhabitants, citizens, residents, passers-by, could be not too visible. I don’t really think it is a twist at the present. My serving in Hebrew and other tongues has often been mentioned by the heads of the local Church when asked whether something was done. I have definitely no political or nationalistic view of any kind, but the revival of Hebrew does question the Church, in particular the Church of Jerusalem.
Then, since Fr. Aleksandr of the North (I don’t want to mention his family name) passed away. He has to be replaced for some time. On the eve of the Feast of the Meeting (Presentation of the Lord to the Temple; Encounter with his people), Patriarch Theophilos asked me to ensure the Divine Liturgies on every two Saturdays in the two places the priest had been serving in by turn: at the Churches of the 12 Apostles in Kfar-Nahum (Capernaum) and Tverya (Tiberias).
I basically agreed because it is evident that there are crowds of visitors there and till the new priest will be “trained” adequately, it is a good way to have a liturgical and pastoral experience at such a Petrine and Apostolic place. I am ensured that on week days (one day in the week), I will continue to serve at the St. Nikolaos church. It is quite possible during Great Lenten Liturgies of the Pre-sanctified that are quite parallel to Vespers (Evening Prayer). The exact time-table of the D. Liturgies at St. Nikolaos will be given as soon as possible.