Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind

St. Seraphim's Orthodox Church, Santa Rosa,

California, Vespers of Pentecost, June 11, 2011

Posted from Willows, Ca. -

During my visit to Oxford, England, last October, I had lunch with Michael Ward, a fellow aurthor of books on C.S. Lewis and an Anglican chaplain at St. Peter's College of Oxford University. I told him I had now written two books on Lewis and I guessed that I might be the only Eastern Orthodox author specializing in Lewis. (There are a number of evangelical, Anglican, and Roman Catholic writers with multiple books on the late Oxford don, Cambridge professor, and author of The Chronicles of Narnia and many other volumes.) Ward then told me of a friend of his, Andrew Cuneo, who is not only Eastern Orthodox but a priest in the church who had recently done his doctorate at Oxford on the letters of C.S. Lewis, most of which were published after Fr. Andrew finished his dissertation. Furthermore, Fr. Andrew did his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where I did the bulk of my campus ministry career (though our years at Stanford did not overlap), and that he is now serving and living with his family in Santa Rosa, California, on the northern side of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fr. Andrew made a presentation on Lewis at Archangel Bookstore in San Francisco in February, where I met him and joined him for dinner after his talk. He encouraged me to visit the church in Santa Rosa which he has been serving as an intern since his ordination, especially to see its beautiful iconography and frescoes, which I finally got an opportunity to do this weekend. The date turned out to be not only my best chance to get away for a few days but Pentecost weekend, the feast celebrating the birth of the church with the receiving of the Holy Spirit fifty days after Pascha (Passover/Easter), which coincided in New Testament history with the Jewish feast of Pentecost which was set aside to memorialize the fiftieth day after the passing over of the angel of death to the Jewish homes in Egypt which led to Moses gaining permission to take his people to freedom in the Exodus.

I have made only a few photos and videos during church services before, for private use only, but because I had been invited especially to experience the beauty of this relatively new church, I felt led to make a record of the beauty of the Saturday night vesper service, as seen in the accompanying video, which runs just under eight minutes. It is in four sections, some of them outside the temple before the service, some of the music and icons and frescoes in the early part of the vespers, a portion of the service that processed outside, and finally a porton of the latter vesper prayers. These service segments are also followed by a brief tour of the church grounds after the service ended.

Click the play button above for the Windows Media version, or if you are on a platform that is not Windows-compatible, click here to watch the video on YouTube. Double-click to make the video above full-screen.

After leaving the church, still well before sunset, I toured several other sites in Santa Rosa that I hope to share in another video Jonal.

— Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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Today's chuckle

Useful work phrases: It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.

Thought for today

Ghosts must be pictured, if we are to picture them at all, as shadowy and tenuous, for ghosts are half-men ... if we must have a mental picture to symbolize Spirit, we should represent it as something heavier than matter.

C.S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)

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Jon Kennedy's recent book, The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia, from Adams Media, F&W Publications, is available for purchase in support of the Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo and can be ordered here. It is also available on Amazon.