Our Sunday Worship service is followed by a community coffee hour in the educational building.
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There is three characteristic of Orthodoxy, first ‘We cannot forget that beauty’. ‘We knew not whether we were in heaven or earth, for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among humans, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty.’ The peculiar gift of Orthodox peoples is the power of perceiving the beauty of the spiritual world, and expressing that celestial beauty in their worship.
Second characteristic, ‘We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth’. Worship, for the Orthodox Church, is nothing else than ‘heaven on earth’. The Holy Liturgy is something that embraces two worlds at once, for both in heaven and on earth the Liturgy is one and the same – one altar, one sacrifice, one presence. In every place of worship, however humble its outward appearance, as the faithful gather to perform the Eucharist, they are taken up into the ‘heavenly places’; in every place of worship when the Holy Sacrifice is offered, not merely the local congregation is present, but the Church universal - the saints, the angels, the Mother of God, and Christ Himself. ‘Now the celestial powers are present are present with us, and worship invisibly.’ This we know, that God dwells there among humans. Orthodox, inspired by this vision of ‘heaven on earth’,, have striven to make their worship in outward splendour and beauty an icon of the great Liturgy in heaven.
The third characteristic of Orthodoxy, ‘discover the true faith’. The Orthodox approach to religion is fundamentally a liturgical approach, which understands doctrine in the context of the divine worship: it is no coincidence that the word ‘Orthodoxy’ should signify alike right belief and right worship, for the two things are inseparable. It has been truly said of the Byzantines, ‘Dogma with them is not only an intellectual system apprehended by the clergy and expounded to the laity, but a field of vision wherein all things on earth are seen in their relation to things in heaven, first and foremost through liturgical celebration.’
Orthodoxy sees human beings above all else as liturgical creatures who are most truly themselves when they glorify God, and who find their perfection and self-fulfillment in worship. Into the Holy Liturgy which expresses their faith, the Orthodox peoples have poured their whole religious experience. It is the liturgy which has inspired their best poetry, art, music. Among Orthodox, the Liturgy has never become the preserve of the learned and the clergy, as it tended to be in the medieval west, but it has remained popular – the common possession of the whole Christian people.
(This Article was abridged, from Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church, p. 264-266)
The Holy Apostle Thaddaeus; The Holy Martyr Bassa and Her Sons: Theognis, Agapius, and Pistus; Afterfeast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary; Athanasios Patelaros, Patriarch of Constantinople