Some Things You Might Want to Know About our Service
We extend a blessed welcome and invite you to pray with us during this service. A number of us are from different Orthodox jurisdictions and we all may do things a little differently. So just do what you are used to doing - there is no right or wrong here.
You may be surprised by the sights, smells, and sounds that surround you during our church services. Following are some of the features of our church and the services:
- Candles: Candles are available in the narthex (vestibule) and can be lit and placed in the narthex or up near the altar. You do not have to be Orthodox to light a candle and pray.
- Icons (Pictures): The icons depict the life and acts of Jesus Christ and the saints, who are alive in heaven with God, yet still present with us. You will see people kiss and bow to (venerate) the icons as a sign of respect. The icons are a way for us to honor them. Feel free to venerate the icons if you feel comfortable doing so.
- Readings before the Service: No, you are not late for the service. We start "readings" (prayers & psalms) at 9:30 a.m., before the actual service which starts at 10:00 a.m. It is done by lay people while people are still coming in. It helps to prepare us for the service.
- Incense: Incense is used to honor the presence of the Divine. It is used quite frequently during the service. We always face the priest while he is censing.
- The Service: Our Sunday service is called Diving Liturgy and is lead by the priest, and the responses and hymns are sung by the acapella choir. Traditionally there are no musical instruments in an Orthodox Church. You can follow the service using the "Divine Liturgy" book in the pew. We do not just sit during the service, but stand, bow, and bless ourselves at various times. Feel free to join us as much as you like, and it is OK to just sit through the service, if that feels comfortable to you.
- Blessing Ourselves: We bless ourselves using the thumb, first, and second fingers of the right hand together, and the last two fingers against the palm. We move the hand from the forehead, to stomach, to right shoulder, then left shoulder. We do this many times during the service, and not always at the same time. Feel free to bless yourself.
- The Lord's Prayer: In the Lord's Prayer, we say "debts" instead of "trespasses". We also end it at "deliver us from evil." and the priest completes the rest.
- The Virgin Mary: We call the Virgin Mary "Theotokos", which is the Greek word for "God Bearer" or "Mother of God". We call upon her many times during the service to pray for us.
- Communion: Because the Eucharist is one of the Sacred Mysteries of the Orthodox Church, only Orthodox Christians may receive communion. The Orthodox Church understands the Holy Eucharist as a mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, not simply as a memorial, or merely in a spiritual sense. Instead, we invite you to join us in receiving the "antidoron" (blessed bread) during and after the Diving Liturgy. The antidoron bread is not Communion and is available to everyone.
- Venerating the Cross: After the service, we go up to the priest and venerate (bless ourselves and kiss) the cross. You may go up and just say hello to Father Sergious without venerating the cross if you like. Do what is comfortable to you.