WORSHIP

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WORSHIP - Literally, "to bow down."  In the Christian sense worship is the adoration of God through participation in the services of the Church, the highest act of a Christian (John 4:19-24).

Worship in the Orthodox Church is understood to be the highest calling of mankind, to fall down at the feet of the Almighty God, the Holy Trinity, and to be given over entirely to him, becoming united mystically with him in the holy mysteries (“sacraments”). To worship God is to fulfill the purpose for which we were created.

Orthodox worship is liturgical, that is, following specific ritual patterns and cycles in reverent dignity and embracing the whole of the human person. Its reverence and awe are due to its being understood as entering into the very throne room of the Creator. Orthodox worship is transformative, bringing the Christian more deeply into communion with God and with his cooperation changing him into a holy person, a saint. Its pattern is after the worship in Heaven, which includes an altar, incense, chanting, and so forth (Is. 6 & 7; Heb. 8:1-6; Rev. 4, 5).

Worship is distinct from veneration in that the latter is simply the genuine respect that Orthodox Christians show for holy people and things, while worship itself is a total giving over of the self to be united with God.

A secondary but essential component of worship in Orthodoxy is to teach the dogmas of the faith, forming the Christian in the doctrines of the Church, which are not merely rational propositions to be agreed with but rather the guide to a salvific way of life.

The center of Orthodox Christian liturgical life is the Divine Liturgy, at which believers who are prepared by prayer, fasting and confession, receive the Holy Eucharist, bread and wine which have been mystically changed by God into the Body and Blood of Christ (John 6:47-58). Other major services include Vespers (evening prayer) and Matins (morning prayer), following in the footsteps of the Apostles, who worshiped according to the traditional hours of prayer (Acts 3:1, 10:9, 10:30).

  See also LITURGY.

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