Series

Our Life in Christ

The Divine Liturgy

Our Life in Christ

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  • July 21, 2006
    Having entered sacred space in the Church building, we now turn to the 'main event' of the Church, the Divine Liturgy. We know that liturgy means 'work of the people', the labor of love we perform as citizens of the Kingdom. Yet, there is much that must be done to prepare for the public worship, and this work is begun long before the typical schedule published in the bulletin. In this program we focus on the "eternal time" of the Divine Liturgy in the sacred space of the Church, and the rationale for the special clothes or vestments of the priest, which, having been donned with special prayers from Holy Scripture, transform him into the Icon of Christ, the Humble Servant.
  • July 28, 2006
    The Proskomide, or the leavened bread that is offered to God, and the accompanying Proskomide prayers, form the essential first part of the Divine Liturgy, taking place well before the arrival of the parishoners to the scheduled service. In this program we attempt to convey some of the significance of the Proskomide and the preparation required for its use. In the Proskomide, the whole of the Kingdom of God - those on earth and in heaven - is commemorated; the Incarnate Lord, the One Sacrifice, the One Bread, the One Body of Christ.
  • August 7, 2006
    The priest is vested, the Gifts have been prepared for the celebration of the Eucharist, and now the Divine Liturgy begins. The first half of the Divine Liturgy is called "the Liturgy of the Word" or "the Liturgy of the Catechumens". In the Liturgy of the Word we hear the Church's teaching about the saints, feasts and events being commemorated that day, the Epistle is read and the Gospel is preached. We see it is not always easy to follow along, even with a service book in hand. Steve and Bill offer some insights into the structure and flow of the Liturgy of the Word that will help newcomers participate more fully in the service.
  • August 19, 2006
    With the reading of the Gospel and the homily that often follows it, the Liturgy of the Catechumens is concluded, and we transition to the Liturgy of the Faithful - The Communion Service. The Eucharist has always been the central focus of the life and worship of the Church from the beginning. Here we try to convey, by way of the Cherubic Hymn and the priestly prayers, the meaning of the Great Entrance - the journey of the gifts from the Prothesis table to the Altar. This is the life-journey of Christ in the world on his way to His Life-Giving Death, and the faithful are eyewitnesses to this - as the lines between heaven and earth are blurred in the mysterious and sacred space of the Kingdom.
  • August 25, 2006
    The bread and wine, the gifts of the people, have been moved from the table of preparation (prothesis table) to the altar in the Great Entrance. In this program we further discuss the Cherubic Hymn in which we are admonished to "lay aside all earthly cares" as we confront the reality of the heavenly Kingdom and the unity of all believers both in heaven and on earth who confess "Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence and undivided." We enter a liturgical dialogue with the priest as we contemplate the greatness of the grace of God who accepts from us sinners our gifts in order to return them to us as the Body and Blood of His Son. In this liturgical dialogue we acknowledge our life in the Trinity, the love and unity of the Church, the glory of God, our gratitude to God for His mercy and the awesome and fearful prospect of taking the "fire of divinity" into our human flesh in the Eucharist.
  • September 1, 2006
    We come to the most sacred and debated words of Christian worship in history: the Epiclesis, the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine to make them into the Body and Blood of Christ. Is the change "real" or is it symbolic? How does the change happen? When does it happen? Are the words just a "hocus pocus" incantation? Can it happen anywhere a priest just speaks the words? Steve and Bill take up the challenge of going three rounds with this theological giant. In the first round they come out hesitant and tentative, dancing around their opponent. In the second and third rounds they get bolder and grapple with the topic but in the end are no match for the great Mystery. The epiclesis wins by a unanimous decision and Steve and Bill go home and hope to recover from their wounds by next week's show.
  • September 12, 2006
    The mystical change of the gifts of bread an wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in the Epiclesis is followed by a series of pre-communion prayers and hymns - given to continually focus us on the grace and unity of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who has been invited to come down upon us and abide in us. The closing prayer of the Epiclesis, which declares the unity of all saints made righteous by faith, is followed by the Megalynarion - the Magnification of Mary, for it was she who by virtue of her humility and purity and the power of the Holy Spirit provided the world with Christ's Body and Blood - the Incarnation itself. The litanies then lead us to the Lord's Prayer, the extolling of God's Holiness (not ours), and then a final declaration of of our own humility and allegiance before we partake of the Mystery of Mysteries. The now thoroughly inadequate Steve and Bill move through this part of the Divine Liturgy "as usual" - with their familiar, winsome klutziness.
  • September 16, 2006
    The prayers are said, the clergy have commmuned and we finally come to the people's communion. The Eastern Rite Orthodox communion has no counterpart in Western Christian practice, so we discuss the mechanics of taking communion, the unusual "liturgical spoon", the different ways communion has been served over the centuries, and the minor variations of praxis among Orthodox Churches. The communion ends with several prayers that declare what the Church has been teaching, confessing and praying all through the liturgy: we have found the true faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity. Is this triumphalistic arrogance or something more?
  • September 24, 2006
    In this final program of the series on the Divine Liturgy we discuss the dismissal prayers after communion. These are more than just a formality as they express the summation of all that we have experienced for the past hour or more: God is the lover of mankind. But the Christian's experience of the Eucharist does not end with the final doxology or the Liturgy. In many parishes there are "post communion prayers" that are read as the people come for the closing blessing and antidoron from the priest. These express in prayer the Orthodox experience of the Eucharist and its meaning to us as we commune and "go forth in peace."

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