On the 27th of August, for the first time in the history of our parish on the feast of the Dormition, the Jerusalem rite of the Burial service was served. This service is not commonly performed in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. However, as Bishop Peter in the past had served as head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem and had often attended this service at the tomb of the Virgin Mary in Gethsemane, he gave his blessing in bringing this tradition to our parish. Beginning at 9:30 in the evening, the All-Night Vigil flowed into the Divine Liturgy at around midnight. Notwithstanding inclement weather, nearly 200 people gathered in the church and even before the start of the service, one could sense the triumphal feeling of a festal celebration.
The Jerusalem office parallels the mattins service of Good Friday. The text of this service was formally translated from Greek to church Slavonic in 1845 under the supervision of Metropolitan Filaret, the enlightener of Moscow. The mattins began with the singing of special troparia in the Bulgarian chant "The Noble Joseph" during which the shroud of the Virgin Mother was brought from the altar and laid on the tomb in the center of the church. It should be noted that the sisterhood had most modestly but beautifully decorated the shroud with large bouquets of white flowers. The "Praises" were read alternating with verses from Psalm 117 by Vladika Peter and 6 other clergy - Fr. Andrei Papkov, Fr. John Sakaluk, Fr. Valery Vovkovski, Fr. Alexander Lukashonok, Fr. Vasily Kuzmich, and Fr. Sergei Alexeyev. After the singing of the Great Doxology, there was to be a procession with the cross, but due to a thunderstorm, the shroud was instead carried around the church accompanied by the funeral chant of "Holy God". Coming to rest back in the center, the church, which up to this time had been dimly lit, was now brightly illuminated by the chandelier when the festal troparion was triumphantly chanted. The Divine Liturgy began immediately just as on Pascha. Despite the late hour, the church remained full and 75 individuals partook of Holy Communion from two chalises.
On the following morning, a late liturgy was again served for those who could not attend at night. Despite being a weekday and having already served at night, the church was once again full and nearly 40 people partook of the Holy Mysteries. Accomanied by the prayerful chanting of a small choir on the kliros, the Liturgy was served by Fr. Sergei Alexeyev on a temporary altar table that was set up in front of the usual altar.
The burial service of the Mother of God - 08/27/09