My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
HOW IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY IS WORSHIP?
From time immemorial man felt the need to pray and offer sacrifice to God or gods. The primitive man looked at nature and what he found powerful and mysterious i.e., sun, moon, river, waterfall, star, fire, animals, serpents, etc. would make them into gods which he worshiped and sacrifice to. Paganism came out of that need to believe is something greater than what he was.
Worship is a complex phenomenon that is difficult to capture within a definition. It has been described as a response of adoration evoked in one who has encountered the presence of God. It has also been depicted as the grateful rejoicing of those who have experienced God's action in their lives. At times it has been equated with the formal service or rites of a particular religion, and it has also been set out as a way of life.
We are all spiritual in that we have a soul, we are all religious in that we show reverence, love, and devotion through ceremonial prayer to the things our soul considers sacred. To deny one or the other or both is to deny the very essence of who we are. What animates, what moves us, what motivates us? It is our soul. Our soul is our spirit.
Hebrew (Judaic) worship came from the same Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai by God Himself. Therefore, our Orthodox Christian Worship is the Earthly Component of the Eternal Worship in Heaven. The structure and decoration of our place of worship (church building) along with the words, prayers, petitions, and rubrics of the divine services all reflect the nature of heavenly worship. It is where we go to hear the words of instruction or how to live life on earth in preparation for eternal life in heaven.
The notion of worship as an expression is basic to all of these descriptions. Worship expresses and mediates the Divine-human relationship. Underlying any understanding of worship is a prior understanding of God and human subjectivity. The possibility of worship implies both human subjects who desire a relationship with God and a God Who fulfills that desire. Ultimately, whatever particular expressions it may take, worship is the outcome of God's gracious self-gift.
Orthodox Christian worship has its foundation in Jesus Christ, the One in Whom we find both God's self-disclosure and a paradigm for a life of worship. Persons who are brought into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ are also made participants in Christ's worship because they share in His life. Koinonia is the term used in the New Testament to denote the shared life which is constitutive of Christian identity and which makes Christian worship possible. It is a gift received by all those who are baptized into the Christian community.
The gift of koinonia is one that calls forth a response. The koinonia received must become one which is lived, one which is manifested in a variety of ways. From the earliest days of the Church, participating in the Lord's Mystical Supper was recognized as a manifestation and intensification of the community's shared life in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Saint Paul made it clear to the Corinthians that participating in the life of their Lord and authentic remembering of His life and death in the Lord's Mystical Supper had to be accompanied by sharing in the attitude of self-giving which has dominated His life. He called upon various Christian communities to express their Koinonia by contributing to a common fund for the poor of Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-27). Christian worship is not be self-serving or individualistic. The gifts of all are to be placed in the service of building up the Church (1 Corinthians 14:26-27).
Liturgy is the formal worship of Christian assemblies. It is a form of ecclesial ritual action in which Christians gather to remember, express, and re-appropriate their identity as co-worshippers with Christ. Christian liturgical worship emerged from within the traditions of Jewish worship but finds it particular identity from its rootedness in the Paschal Mystery. This mystery provides a focus for the rhythm of the Church's feasts and seasons and has a central place in the celebration of the Mysteries (Sacraments) and the liturgy of the hours.
"In the liturgy, the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members". Although each worshipping assembly is bound in koinonia with all the other assemblies which constitute the Church, liturgy is actually performed by local assemblies gathered in particular places. Therefore, the historical, social, and cultural context of each assembly will affect its worship.
Identifying liturgical worship as a form of ritual action calls attention to the fact that is a symbolic process. Liturgical worship is a dynamic symbolic activity in which space, objects, actions, words, time, and relationships all play a significant role in the shaping of meaning. In the liturgy, worship is symbolically expressed or mediated.
However, Christian worship is not restricted to the liturgy. The symbolic actions of liturgical worship are intended to mediate lives of worship, lives of remembrance and hope, of praise and thanksgiving, lives which is the experience of those who have communion in God's spirit through Jesus Christ (Source: The New Dictionary of Theology).
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God