#82 Does the Liturgy Need You?
Do Church services sometimes feel like performances, like you're just passively watching? We can't forget that the Liturgy is the work of the people. And one little word invites us to actively participate in that work: amen.
1) Why do we feel bored in Church? How can we change that feeling and be excited for Church?
2) Why do we pray during Church?
3) Why is praying as a community very important?
Hey everybody, this is Steve and sometimes Church can feel a bit like a show. With all the sights and sounds and movement that goes on during Liturgy and all the effort that goes in to creating beauty all around us, it's easy to feel like we're spectators in a spectacular theatrical performance. Especially if we're not the ones serving in the Altar or chanting in the choir, it be really easy to feel like we're watching from the outside. That the Bishops and Presviters and Deacons and chanters are really the ones doing Liturgy while we're simply there watching Liturgy. And if Liturgy is just another show, just another form of entertainment like a movie or a play, then it's no wonder that so many people feel checked out. I mean, can't the show just go on without us? Well, let's take a closer look at what Liturgy is. Liturgy or λειτουργία in Greek, comes from two root words. Λειτος, which means public, and εργος which means work. So Liturgy is literally a public work.
A community effort, the work of the people. Which means what goes on in Church is much more than some passive entertainment. Work implies effort, that our minds and bodies are active and engaged. It requires our attention and focus. Work also implies a struggle, toil, labor, and exertion. Liturgy isn't an easy job. It can be really hard to keep our minds from wandering, to keep our focus on Christ. And it's not always easy to remember that we, the people in the pews, are needed for the Liturgy to be offered. We may not realize it, but this important fact about our life as the Church is expressed so beautifully in one short, yet powerful word, one we say all the time without really thinking about too much. Amen. Did you know that the word amen is Hebrew for let it be so? The "amen" of the people completes the prayers of the Bishops and the Presviters and the Deacons. It's our way of saying "yes, we agree and we too have come to worship God".
Father Tom Hopko puts it this way "So in other words, if there's nobody there to say "amen" to the Bishops' or Priest's prayer or they refuse to say "amen", then the Liturgy stops. It's over. You can't go on. It has to be the "amen" of all the gathering people who are faithful." The Eucharist just can't be celebrated if we, the people, are not actively participating in the labor, the work of prayer and worship. Which is why it's a good thing there are so many ways for us to be engaged and actively involved in the Liturgy. We stand at attention to remind ourselves that we are in the presence of God. We focus our eyes on the icons, to calm and still our inner turmoil. We open our ears to the melodious chanting that praises God with the words of the Angels and teaches us to live like the Saints had lived. We may even sing along. We smell the sweet smell of incense, which draws our thoughts to the sweetness of God's mercy. We make the sign of the Cross to show that we willingly unite ourselves to the Cross of Christ. We bow or kneel before the Almighty God who sends His Spirit upon us. We recite the Creed and Lord's Prayer together to confess the faith that we share. We lift up within our hearts prayers for our loved ones, those who are suffering, those who have died. And most of all, we offer our "amen".
Our affirmation that God is our God and we worship no other. And this is the work that we are called to do. The sometimes difficult work of preparing ourselves to be transformed by God's love. Just as the bread and the wine on the Altar are transformed into Christ's Body and Blood, so are we in the Liturgy, transformed into Christ's very Body. It’s a work we as Christians can't avoid. Nor should we. Because worship isn't passive. We can't simply sit back and let it happen all around us. If we want to truly live Orthodoxy, we have to strive to unite ourselves to Christ. To offer thanksgiving to all the blessings the God has granted us. To not simply say, but to live. That little word "amen". We have to actively seek the Kingdom of God. So let's Be the Bee and offer ourselves to God in the Liturgy. Be the Bee and Live Orthodoxy. Remember to like and subscribe and share. I'll see you all next week.
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1. What are Vestments?
2. Why You Matter
3. Talents and Temptations