January 9, 2013 by Orthodox Whitehorse
This past weekend the Orthodox Church celebrated the Feast of Holy Theophany, and the St. Nikolai Mission welcomed their new Mission Priest, Fr. Matthew Francis, for his first pastoral visit since he was assigned by His Grace, Bishop Irénée to serve Whitehorse.
The Mission currently meets for worship in a rented space at the Yukon Transportation Museum. Like the “Children of Israel” sojourning in the wilderness, the faithful members of the Mission must set up the space for the sacred worship of God. Wooden panels form a simple iconostasis, marking out the sanctuary. Since Museum regulations do not allow for the use of either incense or candles – which are customary for Orthodox liturgical services – Father Matthew encouraged the faithful to pray to the Lord with greater fervour.
It is our hope and prayer that the Mission may soon acquire its own permanent place of worship. All possible options are currently being explored. A special petition for this was added to the Litany of Fervent Supplication. Please join us in prayer that the Lord will soon grant this request!
Great Vespers was served Saturday evening, followed by the Great Blessing of Water at the Museum. On Sunday morning, the Divine Liturgy was served at the Museum. Immediately afterwards, all the faithful travelled to the Rotary Centennial Walking Bridge for the Blessing of the Yukon River.
You might imagine that the Yukon River would be completely frozen in January. Well, in many places it is. This place, however, is located next to a major hydroelectric dam, where large turbines churn up the water. This is why the River below the bridge is largely free from ice. On the bridge, however, the Winter winds blew hard! With God’s help, we all made it through.
Later, we returned to the Museum for a festive community lunch and fellowship. Father Matthew was intrigued to hear that the last time the Yukon River was blessed, in 2009, there was an extraordinary salmon population – much greater than what was expected! We will see if 2013 proves to be another good year for the River. Regardless, we were all blessed – and so were some of the curious joggers passing by on the bridge.
We poured the blessed waters of the Yukon back into the River in a three-fold pour, in honour of the Holy Trinity. As we did, the wind blew the droplets out into the air, and the colours of the spectrum appeared – a beautiful sight in the bright, cold sun.
A photo gallery below shows more images from the Theophany weekend at St. Nikolai of Zhitsa Mission in Whitehorse: