A Community of Prayer
"We knew not whether we were in heaven or on 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 men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty."
In the latter part of the tenth century, Vladimir the Prince of Kiev sent envoys to various Christian centers to study their form of worship. The words printed above are the words the envoys uttered when they reported their presence at the celebration of the Eucharist in the Great Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. The profound experience expressed by the Russian envoys has been one shared by many throughout the centuries who have witnessed and experienced the beautiful and inspiring Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church.
For it is through the partaking of the Holy Eucharist that we experience the fullness of God’s Love in this world and unite ourselves to God. The Eucharist is the most distinctive event of Orthodox worship because in it the Church gathers to remember and celebrate the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ and, thereby, participate in the mystery of Salvation.
The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word which means thanksgiving. In the Orthodox Church, the Eucharist is also known as the Divine Liturgy. The word liturgy means people’s work; this description serves to emphasize the corporate character of the Eucharist.
When Orthodox Christians attend the Divine Liturgy they gather as members of the Community of Faith who participate in the very purpose of the Church, which is the Worship of the Holy Trinity. The Eucharist is truly the center of the life of the Church and the principal means of spiritual development, both for the individual Christian and the Church as a whole. Not only does the Eucharist embody and express the Christian faith in a unique way, but it also enhances and deepens our faith in the Trinity. This sacrament-mystery is the experience toward which all the other activities of the Church are directed and from which they receive their direction.
The Eucharist is an experience of communion with the Living God in which prayer, music, gestures, the material creation, art and architecture, come into full orchestration. The Eucharist is a celebration of faith which touches the mind, emotions and senses of all participants.
Following the teachings of both Scripture and Tradition, the Orthodox Church believes that Christ is truly present with His people in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine become for us His Body and His Blood. We affirm that these Holy Gifts are transfigured into the first fruits of the New Creation in which ultimately God will be “all in all”.
All of the other ministries of the Church are centered around the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. In a way, they are the liturgy after the Liturgy. Our parish ministries provide opportunities for us to grow in faith, to learn more about our relationship with God, and to further our relationships and friendships with each other and provide us with the strength, knowledge and courage to follow the Great Commission of Christ, “to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20.)
As Orthodox Christians we are brought into the full participation of the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism, during which we also receive the Sacrament of Chrismation and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. From that moment, often from our infancy, we are members of the Body of Christ and welcomed to participate fully in the Sacramental Life of the Church. As we grow in stature and faith, the Church seeks to provide us with opportunities to grow in the knowledge of God.
All of our parish ministries are built on various components of the following four principles: worship, fellowship, service and witness.
1. Worship (Λειτουργία)
As Orthodox Christians, we believe that God reveals Himself through Holy Tradition and Scripture. Worship is the living expression of these, and is therefore a very important element in the life of the Church and the lives of the faithful as we are called to be active participants in the liturgical life of the church.
2. Fellowship (Κοινωνία)
Fellowship is the way Orthodox Christians integrate their faith with daily life. It is sacred when Orthodox Christians gather together in the Lord’s name. The relationship of the Holy Trinity is the perfect model of Fellowship—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share perfect communion and exist in perfect love with each other. By gathering together in fellowship and experiencing this love, we emulate the relationship of the Trinity and develop our life in Christ.
3. Service (Διακονία)
Christ came to serve, not to be served. We are all called to follow His example. We can honor and glorify God by loving and serving humanity in His name. Young people can use their God-given gifts to serve. For Orthodox Christians, service to God and community is a way of life; the way of living one’s Faith. As Jesus Christ said, “Let your light so shine for men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Service is an integral part of the Orthodox Christian’s life.
4. Witness (Μαρτυρία)
Humans are both spiritual and physical beings. Unfortunately this spiritual reality is not always expressed in the material world. In order to be true to oneself and to the Orthodox Christian Faith, we are called to exemplify the teachings of the Church. We bear witness to our faith when we live as Christ taught us to live; maintaining Christian integrity in all areas of our lives and allowing Christ’s Love to shine in us.
We support all these ministries through Stewardship, and the sharing of our time, talent and treasure. We work diligently in the life of the Church because it is an expression of our faith.
All that we do - we do for the Glory of God.
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Hosea the Prophet
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