The Gospel and the Eucharist

Our Worship

The church stands with one foot on earth, and the other foot in heaven. Worship is the culmination of this reality—the ultimate reality. What should worship reflect, if not the glory of God and the divine reality of heaven? Worship should not reflect our own brokenness back to us. It should point us to our heavenly homeland. 2 Cor. 4:18

The Bible contains descriptions of heavenly worship, and our worship on earth reflects this, orienting us on our journey to God. Its aim is to engage our entire being: our bodies, minds, and souls alike. Php. 3:20

We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer then the ceremonies of other nations.

— Emissaries of pre-Christian Kiev, 10th century

Biblical

To say our worship is only Bible-based would be an understatement. Scripture is not just present in Orthodox Christian worship, it is the very framework and center of our worship, woven throughout and binding it all together.

A text from the evening service of Vespers

Traditional

Orthodox Christian worship is traditional, with the basic form and many specific elements dating back to the first century church, passed down from generation to generation in a living tradition. 2 Th. 2:15

It is not subject to passing fads, because it has been time-tested and proven its worth in every age and land. We believe this demonstrates its inspired character, and emphasizes the holy nature of the loving God whom we worship.


Holistic

Jesus is not a man indwelt by God; he is the God-Man. In the same way, we are not souls with bodies; we are complete body-soul beings. Jesus came to save people. For this reason, we must engage our whole selves in a tactile form of worship.

In our worship, in our liturgy—which means the people's work—we stand up, as one would stand at attention in the presence of a king. This builds discipline and helps us focus our attention. We make the sign of the cross over ourselves, a physical gesture of prayer that is as old as the church itself. At certain times we kneel and bow, an act of great reverence and repentance that focuses the mind.

Perhaps the most striking thing about our worship is the engagement of the senses. For Orthodox Christians, worship is more than singing a few songs and listening to a lecture. We see the icons, hear the scriptures and hymns, smell the incense, touch the waters of baptism and the oil of healing, and taste the body and blood of Christ.

Burning incense is an ancient form of worship that extends back to the Jewish temple

Theological

There is a saying that goes like this: "If you want to know what Orthodox Christians believe, stand near the reader's stand and listen." Or more simply put: what we pray is what we believe.

Orthodox worship is (and always has been) a lesson in theology: from teaching basic Christianity to answering the deepest questions. The spiritual "milk" and "meat" are both present, all at once, providing a spiritual banquet to feed everyone at every stage of spiritual growth.


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