Church Etiquette: Lesson 2
The things that Miss Manners Left Out ...
Pick a little, talk a little...
Isn't it great to see friends and family in church? Just wait until fellowship time to get the latest news from them. It is unnecessary to have a “receiving line” form as you enter the church and take your place, especially if services have already started.
Besides being disrespectful toward God, it is rude toward the other people in the church trying to worship. Refraining from talking doesn't mean that you should write and pass notes during services. This behavior is more reminiscent of grade school, not the church.
Try talking to God while in the church through your prayers, hymns, and thanksgiving, talking to your friends, and meeting the guests and visitors afterward during fellowship time.
Blot that Lipstick!
Have you ever looked at an icon in just the right light and seen the lip prints all over it? It's really disgusting. In fact, it is downright gross. Lipstick may look great on lips but looks really out of place and nasty on icons, crosses, the communion spoon, the chalice, and the priest's or bishop's hand.
Icons have been ruined by lipstick, and even though crosses, chalices, and hands can be cleaned after everyone venerates them, it just isn't polite to impose your lipstick on them (especially if it is not their color). What is the answer? If you choose to wear lipstick to church, blot your lips well before venerating an icon, taking communion, kissing the cross or the priest's or bishop's hand. Or wait until you leave the church to put it on. After all, God is not impressed with how good your make-up looks externally but is more concerned with "makes-up your inside."
I want to kiss you…
Venerating icons is the usual tradition when one enters the church. As you walk through the door, make the sign of the cross upon yourself, then proceed directly to the icon in the center of the church. This is not the time for a meet and greets session with friends. When venerating the icon, be aware of where you are kissing. It is not appropriate to kiss an icon in the face. Would you go up to and kiss Jesus or His Mother on the lips? Probably not. You would kiss their hand, and only if they invited you would you even kiss their cheek.
You should stand quietly, focus on the icon before you, and make the sign of the cross (either with or without a bow - this is a personal preference). Pay attention to what you are doing. When you approach the icon to venerate it, kiss the gospel, scroll or the hand cross in the person's hand in the icon or kiss the hand, foot, or cross on the garment of the person depicted. As you venerate an icon, show proper respect to the person(s) depicted - as if you would like in person, by venerating him or her in an appropriate place. Then make the sign of the cross on yourself again.
Some churches will have additional icons in the front of the church (usually in front of Christ and the Virgin Mary) or other places throughout the church. Be considerate of others who are in line to venerate these icons and light their candles. This is a time for prayer, not for chit-chat.
Refrain from venerating icons in front of the church if services have already started when you enter.