The Principles Of Orthodox Worship

Written By: on Jul 6th, 2009 and filed under Articles, We Believe.

4. Symbolic Representations

We have to acknowledge our linguistic limitations. Words and language alone  fail to reflect our gratitude to God Almighty. Symbols speak volumes  and help us for meaningful communication with God. The early Church developed symbolic art in the Catacombs.Symbols used by early Christians include , lamb, dove ,fish, shepherd, vine , bread, cross and the like. The dove represents holy Spirit,  Christ si the Good Shepherd,and the Lamb of God. The Greek word “ikhthus” which means fish denotes “ Jesus Christ, son of god, Savior” when alphabetically expanded. This was the creed and declaration of faith used by ancient Christians. The symbolism of salt, lamp, etc. are inspirative and educative for a Christian. They are parts of the Christian devotion. The cross speaks out the sacrificial acts of Jesus. Signing of the cross is also silent , but meaningful worship. The icons first came into existence in Syria and Egypt. The Byzantine Church developed icons and iconostasis with a sound theology of symbols called iconography.

5. Fasting, Feasting and Festivals

In worship there are factors beyond  human reasoning and intellect. Through the particular cycle of prayers, rites of purification and courses of meditation together with lent, fasting and deeds of charity we find amalgamation with such factors beyond our reason and intellect. In our worship we bow our heads, kneel down and pray to the Lord. ( See Gen 24:26, Gen 24:48, Ex 4:31, Dan 6:10, 1 king 8:54,Mt. 2:11, Rev.7:11, ps,95:6. Etc.) Fasting is pleasing to God Is 58:6-8) , God asked his people to observe fast . Joel 1:12-15. The evil one can be overcome by fasting. Luke 2:37, Mt. 17:21, Esther 4:16 , . Moses observed fasting Ex: 34:28, Mk 9:29, Acts 14:23, , fasting is mentioned in 1 king 19:18. Also we see 21 days fasting of Daniel ( Dan 10:2,3)  14 days fasting in Acts 27: 33,35  . 7 days fasting of David in 2 Sam 12:16, 1 Sam 31:13,  3 days fasting  of Esther 3:13, 4:16, Acts 9:9, Dan 9:3-21 , Ezra 8:3, people of Nineveh  Jona 3:6 etc.  Jesus is the best example Mt. 4:2, Feasts are observed as days of  special honor and reverence. Jn.7:2 , acts 20:16, 1 Cor 16:8.  The Jews observed feast of Passover. ( Ex. 12: 14-17) ,Pentecost ( Ex. 19:20), tabernacle ( Lev 23:24 ), Purim ( Esther 9:26) , Trumpet ( Lev 23:24) , Feasts and Festivals of Christianity commemorate events  related to Christ , saints, and martyrs sharing the experiences in and with so great  a cloud of witness ( Heb 12:10)

6. Conformity with the mind of the Church

We are bound to hold fast the traditions transferred to us through the Church by our Lord, the Apostles and the church Fathers. The Greek word paradosisused in the Bible means “ that which is transferred” or “ traditions” ( see 2 thess 2 : 15, 3:16, 1 Cor 11:2 etc.) The continuity and apostolic authority together with the rich spiritual fragrance behind these traditions are to be counted. Tradition is the mind of the Church . It is  difficult to write down everything that we see , know and experience . The canons, faith declaration and textual formations of the liturgical practices form the spiritual code of conduct made by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles , gospel- writers and Church Fathers. These traditions (oral  and written ) act as catalytic agents for our spiritual upbringing . These tradition are not be ridiculed , misused , and misunderstood. See 1 Cor, 11:34, Phil 4:9, 2 Tim 2:2, 2 Tim 1:13, Heb 2: 1,  3 Jn. 1 :13 , 2 Pet 3:16.

7. Communion with the departed ones

The Church is the communion of all believers in the past , present, and future. Both the living and the departed are members of the church. A believer never dies.Jn.11:26. The departed ones stand around  us like clouds today. Heb 12:1. They live 1 Pet 4:6. They speak Luke 9:30,31. They please God 2 Cor 5:8,9. They pray for the world. Rev 6:9,10. Death is not capable of separating  us from the love of God. Rom 8:38. The departed Moses and Elijah are seen talking with Jesus Mt. 17:3. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effect. James 5:16. See also Prov 10:7, 1 Cor 6:2, Rev 2:26, Luke 16:27,28. The departed ones are alive in paradise. Luke.  23:43. St. Paul prayed for the departed Onesiphorous. 2 Tim 1:16-18 . We commemorate and unite in prayer with the departed ones who form the larger part of the Church.

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