The special service after the Divine Liturgy on Forgiveness Sunday is the forgiveness vespers - the very first service of the Great Lent. Forgiveness Vespers follows the order of Lenten Sunday Vespers but after the Great Prokeimenon the clergy exchange their bright vestments for dark and the choir begins to use distinctive Lenten tones. Following the dismissal, the community celebrates the moving and beautiful rite of mutual forgiveness.
After the dismissal at Vespers, the priest stands before theambon, and the faithful come up one by one and venerate the icon, after which each makes a bow (in some parishes this is a prostration) before the priest, saying, "Forgive me, a sinner." The priest also makes a bow (or prostration) before each, saying, "God forgives. Forgive me." The person responds, "God forgives," and receives a blessing from the priest. Meanwhile the choir sings quietly the irmoi of the Paschal Canon or the Paschal Stichera.
After receiving the priest's blessing, the faithful also ask forgiveness of each other until the entire parish has forgiven one another. It’s a long service, yes, but an important one to lead us into the Great Lent in a spirit of humility and brotherly love.