Last night we celebrated the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos at Church. It was a particularly beautiful service for me.
The evening began earlier in the day when the kids and I picked wild flowers from our garden to bring to church to be blessed. We arrive early to the celebration and I soon realize that a sense of expectation was beginning to overcome me; a sensation almost like a home coming or some kind of event that you bring a friend or neighbor flowers to upon your arrival to their home.
We placed our wild flowers before the icon of Theotokos as we venerated it and kissed the Holy Mother much like you would kiss the picture of your physical mother on the mantle…not to worship the physical photo but expressing your internal love externally.
The service began like any other and I felt this deep feeling of gratitude for being there. How lucky was I to be in church on a week night? How fortunate that my entire family was with me worshiping the creator? How wonderful the thought of who we celebrated tonight.
“From now on all generations will call me blessed.” Mary
I read an article the other day by His Grace Bishop Basil (The Ministry of Church Singers) and he said something that struck me as eye-opening. He said that we as church singers (Chanters, Choir Directors or Choir members) physically jump into something that is perpetually happening.
What is this thing we come into when we walk into a church? The worship of the Almighty!
Close your eyes and just try to imagine it: thousands of Angels, Archangels, the Cherubim and Seraphim, and the Church gone before all bowed low and perpetually singing before the Creator’s throne…“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty!
St. Symeon the Theologian in 1429 writes this, “The temple (naos), even though it is made of stones and wood and other materials, it contains a supernatural grace. Once it is consecrated by a bishop with the mystic prayers and anointed with the holy myrrh it becomes entirely the dwelling place of God”. As we enter the church we can now understand that it isn’t just a building anymore, but a holy place where heaven meets earth. Thus, we join in the worship that never ceased and still continues today.
So, what is worship?
Well, I read through several different definitions of worship but thought this description from Wikipedia (of all places) said it the best: “Worship is the Church’s fundamental activity…because the worship of God is the joining of man to God in prayer”. With “fundamental” meaning “being an essential part or the basis of something”, to worship is what it means to be a Christian; you cannot separate the two as one begat the other. Christianity without worship is like living without breathing; it cannot be done.
“the church is the living embodiment of Christ, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, in the people, clergy, monks, and all other members of the church. Thus the church is viewed as the Body of Christ on earth which is perpetually unified with the body of Christ in heaven through a common act of worship to God”
In my own very narrow idea when I think of worship I think of adoring something and I think of making that object of my worship the most important thing in my life…but worship is so much more.
Worship is about communion with the Father and because we are His creation, we will worship.