The Divine Liturgy It is the coming together of the heavenly Kingdom with earthly life. The Church of heaven, the Church triumphant, and the church here on earth, the Church Militant, join in this grand celebration to glorify God and to be in union with Him.
We come to this service to be transformed through the partaking of Holy Communion. This is the same as saying we partake of Jesus Christ’s Flesh and Divinity. Holy Communion and the Divine Liturgy cannot be separated. This the greatest of all mysteries. All Orthodox Christians should come prepared to be partakers of the Divine gift.
This is a service sublime in its beauty and grandeur inspiring awe for our Creator and Lord. We should enter into the nave of the Church with great respect and humbleness, because we are approaching Heaven on earth, a place where Heaven and earth are truly joined during the Liturgy.
Before Orthodox Christianity spread to what is now Russia, Prince Vladimir of Kiev (in present day Ukraine) sent emissaries to Constantinople (Then the capital of the Roman Empire and the center of Christianity) to seek out a new religion for his people. When they experienced the Divine Liturgy at the Hagia Sophia Cathedral there here is what they reported.
We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget the beauty.
Report from Vladimir’s emissaries D.D. 987
Saint John Chrysostom (Patriarch of Constantinople many years earlier) says,
Every time there is performed the liturgy of this awesome sacrifice, which is the clear image of the heavenly realities, we should imagine that we are in heaven.
Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 15, ch 20
What is the Meaning of the Word Liturgy?
The word Liturgy comes from an ancient Greek word leitos (people) and erogon (work), Literally it means the work of the people. This word was used initially to refer to service given to the state by citizens for the betterment of the public good. We can think of the divine Liturgy as the public work for the benefit of the people so God’s people will be cared for by Him. As we participate in this service we are serving God through our work in the Divine Liturgy.
What it is not:
• It is not a production, spectacle, or a theatrical performance.
• It is not a memorial service for a dead founder.
What it is:
• It is about coming together to join with God, worshiping and thanking God for all He gives to us and then God offers us in return Holy Communion, the actual Blood and Body of Jesus Christ. It is the coming together of the body of Christ, the community of believers, all the coworkers in God’s kingdom to praise and glorify God.
• It is the full participation in communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the Living God.
• It is a foretaste of the Kingdom of God where we join with the Angels and all the saints in praise and worship.