Sunday, September 6, 2009

Greek Fest -- a blessing

Traditional in many Greek Orthodox churches is the Greek Fest, which usually takes place once or twice a year. Now, this is a major undertaking, to be sure, and at times it generates a bit of complaining about the amount of work, who WAS there working, and who WASN'T there, etc. etc.

But all in all, I think it can be a great blessing, and opportunity to meet the community in which the Community lives.

It is amazing to see how so many people can work so well together for two and one half or three days cooking, cleaning, baking, making salads, serving people, all the time with (for the most part) a smile on the face! And, for all the work, it is FUN to work together, a bit sad when it ends, but a bit glad, too!

It is a great opportunity to share with the larger community the cultural heritage of the Greek (or Russian, or Serbian, or ... ) forefathers -- people for whom Church and life in the State were NOT so far separate. The music, with its intricate melodies rings in one's ears long after it has ceased, and the dance is unique and wonderful. After all, the Hellenic Culture is part of the American foundation!

It is a great time to just meet and talk with people about anything at all, but it is also a marvelous time to speak the truth in love, answering questions about the Ancient Faith, sharing the living heritage of the Faith. Some are more than a little taken aback to hear that the Divine Liturgy lives through history and is not subject to the whims of a priest or a committee ... and that it is held in common across jurisdictional lines. Others are very thoughtful when I suggest that my children's children will stand in this line and this teaching and this faith long after I leave this earth.

So, in spite of all the work, the sore feet, the sweat and toil, the Greek Fest is a blessing. As one lately come to the faith, I truly appreciate that part of my community's life!

Oh ... the food is marvelous!



Dixie said...

I am glad you like them. Not me, so much. We have such a small, not so Greek, parish and most of our folks who put this on every year are aging. The younger families aren't interested in participating. The converts aren't Greek and aren't as interested. As it has been, each year the burden falls on fewer and fewer people. Unfortunately, the festival brings in a lot of money the parish needs. Nonetheless, next year we will take a year off and not do the festival. It remains to be seen if we will have future ones.

I think the festival works when it is done with the attitude of sharing the culture with the community but it can sour when the interest in giving and sharing is overtaken by the need to make money. My theory is that the value of the festival is inversely proportional to the financial need for it.

Our priest does open up the chapel and gives iconography lectures which are well attended. That is a good thing.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

You are blessed, then.

For our parish, Greek Festival is a year-round project, practically transforming the parish into a business. Greek Fest, Inc.

The Festival is always held the last weekend in May and it's always hot, over-crowded, too loud, and NO FUN.

It has also come to be something upon which the parish budget heavily depends. People woirk at the festival in lieu of tithes and offerings.

In recent years, the proceeds simply disappear, nobody knows where; there's no accountability.

In short, for us, the festival is more of a curse. I wish it would end.

Ezekiel said...

Ahh, you have both pinpointed the major curse of these Festivals: for most communities they are THE source of income, and that is most certainly NOT good.

BTW, that is also true of our community, although earlier this year, a number of parish council members attended an excellent Stewardship Seminar that travels throughout the US.

Two major things were "no-nos": counting on festivals and such events for operating revenue, and the "tray system" as something other than the opportunity for proportional, first fruits weekly givng.

Major emphasis of the seminar: this is about salvation, theosis, not merely the bucks.

So, I, in this post, have suggested that Festivals may well be a blessing: but they may well be the curse, too.

In an article in parish newsletter some years ago, having listened to the griping after one of the festivals, I suggested that Holy Mother Church can live and breath well without them. When the Church is merely a Greek (or Russian, or Serbian or ....) restaurant, we are in deep deep trouble.

Festivals and such kept in perspective, a proper perspective can be a blessing.

However, the bottom line: I pray that as much effort, time, etc will be devoted to "working out one's salvation."

Thanks for the thoughts!