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« on: July 18, 2012, 03:00:03 PM »

Hi all Smiley.

I’m interested in learning about Orthodox Christianity, and possibly converting, and hope to attend a service at some point. I was raised Christian and attended Pentecostal Churches when I was young. We then ended up going to Baptist churches, and I currently attend one that’s associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Having read some history, though, my attention has been drawn to the Orthodox Church and given I’m starting to be disillusioned by my current church, I think that it’s a good idea to try and learn more… With that in mind, I have a few questions and would appreciate any assistance:

Sermon:
I’m used to: Enter church, praise, offering (and greeting others), worship, sermon, benediction, dismissal. The video I watched of a service seemed to have (I don’t really know how to put this) a lot of chanting. What happens with regards to the actual sermon?

Confession:
I understand that there’s no “confession” per se, as in the Roman Catholic sense. To this end, what do you do if you have a problem and you need to speak to someone, ie the Father? Is it possible to make an appointment to see them?

Kissing:
I understand that kissing is used as a sign of reverence and respect (for example, that’s why you kiss the priest’s hand). However, what about when it comes to things like the kiss of peace – what do you do if that is something that you don’t feel comfortable with doing?

Icons:
What is the significance/meaning of the hand gesture that Jesus is making in the icon?



Secondly, I understand this is from inside the Hagia Sophia, and so it makes sense to depict the (current at the time?) rulers. Why are they so close to Jesus though? From what I can gather, neither are saints. If I'm not mistaken it's Constantine IX and Empress Zoe.



New names:
It is my understanding that when you become baptized (chrismated?) and formally enter the Church, you are given a new name, often related to that of a saint. How do you go about choosing this name, and is it “complete”, ie, you have to get a legal name change in your country, or is it something that fellow members of the Church will call you?

Thank you so much Smiley.
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2012, 03:16:01 PM »

Sermon:
Depending on what church you visit the homily (sermon) will be after the reading of the Gospel or at the end of the service.

Confession:
You can speak with your Priest at any time he is available. There is the sacrament of confession though-- and depending on the Priest he will have you go every other week or once a month or every quarter year or some other rule. There's a varation to this practice. On most occasions it's done after Saturday night Vespers or before the Hours are read Sunday morning before Liturgy.

Kissing:
yes, we do kiss things. Practicing the kiss of peace will depend on what jurisdiction or local church you visit. Most of the time it's a light kiss on the cheek three times from right to left and right again. Other people just shake hands.

Icons

The icon is of Christ the Pantocrator giving his blessing with his initials in Greek: "IX XC"

Patron names:
It depends on the person and the church. My whole ROCOR parish calls me by my patron's name since I was baptized and most of my friends do. I use it "out in the world" now too except around family. It's what I prefer to go by.
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2012, 03:26:01 PM »

Just to add a bit to what has been said:
Sermon
The sermon does not play the same central role in Orthodox worship as it does in Protestantism. The services are mostly hymns (usually shorter than what you are likely used to) and prayers, many of which are sung. Familiar ones will often be sung by the congregation, but unfamiliar or more complex ones will be sung by a choir or chanter(s).

New names
In many cases, if you already have a name of a saint, you will not be asked to change. That was true in my case. Some priests will let you select the name (and show you how to do so), or may choose the name for you. How you use it outside the Church is usually up to you.

Good thoughtful questions. Glad to see that you have done some research already. Welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2012, 04:03:27 PM »

Welcome to the forum Smiley Some random thoughts... as has been said, the name thing differs from place to place, and even person to person. My given name was Justin, so I just kept Justin (for St. Justin Popovich). My wife's name was Cecilia, but rather than St. Cecilia being her patron she chose St. Mary of Egypt; afterwards she was sometimes called Cecilia (usually by her family), sometimes called Mary (usually by my family and myself), and sometimes called Mary-Cecilia (usually in Church or religious-related things/places). Regarding kissing, you don't have to kiss anything you don't want to; if you prefer shaking hands or even nodding hello that works as well (though it may be harder to pull off in places where the kiss of peace is deeply ingrained). Regarding confession, there is confession as a sacrament, but most priests will also just talk to you like a normal one on one with someone, or even in some cases if you want like a counseling thing (e.g. pre-marital counseling, etc.). It really depends on what you need/want and what the priest is comfortable/competent with doing.
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2012, 04:04:29 PM »

Again, just adding my own. Great answers so far:

Sermon:
I’m used to: Enter church, praise, offering (and greeting others), worship, sermon, benediction, dismissal. The video I watched of a service seemed to have (I don’t really know how to put this) a lot of chanting. What happens with regards to the actual sermon?

The sermon (or homily) is usually given after the Gospel reading, and before the Liturgy of the Eucharist (or "of the Faithful") but also can be given at the very end of the Liturgy. You're probably used to a long 45-minute sermon...not so for us! Homilies half that length are still considered quite long. My priest tends to have fifteen minute homilies, and he's mentioned that our bishop has tasked him with cutting that down to seven!

Confession:
I understand that there’s no “confession” per se, as in the Roman Catholic sense. To this end, what do you do if you have a problem and you need to speak to someone, ie the Father? Is it possible to make an appointment to see them?

We do have sacramental confession as in the Roman Church (though our theology about sin and atonement is different that the RCC or Protestant perspective, but I'm sure you'll hear more on that later). Traditions differ about how often this is done. Usually it's between once a month or quarter-annually. Though, sometimes it can be only once a year (before Pascha...not widely practiced anymore) or every week before Liturgy. Generally confession is offered after the Saturday evening service (either Great Vespers or Vigil), which begins the celebration of the Lord's Day (Sunday). Appointments can also be made for confession and a host of other things. It'd be just fine for you to make an appoint to just chat!

Kissing:
I understand that kissing is used as a sign of reverence and respect (for example, that’s why you kiss the priest’s hand). However, what about when it comes to things like the kiss of peace – what do you do if that is something that you don’t feel comfortable with doing?

I regret that I've never been to a parish in the U.S. that actually does the kiss of peace. I think that's a shame, it's a beautiful custom! But, for a lot of folks, it's offensive to American sensibilities of personal space. I don't think you'll offend anyone by offering a handshake instead.

Icons:
What is the significance/meaning of the hand gesture that Jesus is making in the icon?

Secondly, I understand this is from inside the Hagia Sophia, and so it makes sense to depict the (current at the time?) rulers. Why are they so close to Jesus though? From what I can gather, neither are saints. If I'm not mistaken it's Constantine IX and Empress Zoe.

These icons both show Christ making the "christogram", which spells out "IC XC" an abbreviation of "Jesus Christ" in Greek (Iecouc Xrictoc). This should help:



Unfortunately, I don't know much about the iconography of the Agia Sophia. I know it is common to depict rulers in icons, especially if they funded the project (a "benefactor's icon"). I regret not having much information about this particular mosaic, though. Sorry.

New names:
It is my understanding that when you become baptized (chrismated?) and formally enter the Church, you are given a new name, often related to that of a saint. How do you go about choosing this name, and is it “complete”, ie, you have to get a legal name change in your country, or is it something that fellow members of the Church will call you?

Just to clarify, if one is baptized, then they are also chrismated. Some can be only chrismated, having a previous baptism considered "valid" enough to not warrant being baptized by the Orthodox. Different bishops will choose differently on how to receive converts in this matter. but, personally, my original baptism was in a Baptist church, and I was received into Orthodoxy by baptism.

Secondly, you may receive a new name. You will receive a patron saint. For example, my legal name is Benjamin. I'm named after my grandfather. When I was received, I was baptized as "Benjamin" and took St. Benjamin the Deacon, a 5th century Persian martyr, as my patron. My name didn't change. I know a lot of priests that encourage converts to keep their names, if there is a saint with that name. Though, I know plenty who took a different name than their legal name as well. I don't know anyone who has legally changed their name. Most will go by their Christian name only at church...some only in a liturgical context (e.g., that's what you're called when you're absolved, when you commune, etc. anytime you're mentioned in services) but never in conversation, even with other church folks. Of course, this whole mess is resolved if you just take a patron with the name you already have...if that's an option for you! Wink

I hope that was helpful for you. And, of course, welcome to the Boards!
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 05:19:11 PM »

Secondly, I understand this is from inside the Hagia Sophia, and so it makes sense to depict the (current at the time?) rulers. Why are they so close to Jesus though? From what I can gather, neither are saints. If I'm not mistaken it's Constantine IX and Empress Zoe.
Often you'll see icons or mosaics where the Emperor and/or Empress are offering something to Christ. Usually they're holding a miniature of the church itself, which shows that the emperor is giving the church to God.

Here is St. Constantine doing it in a mosaic:



Notice that the haloes around the Emperor and Empress in the icon you posted are not fancy like Christ's is. Normally, a living Christian emperor has a "hollow halo" with no gold inside, to differentiate them from Christ or a saint. On a gold mosaic background, this effect doesn't really show up as well.

Haloes are an ancient hellenistic symbol for power, authority or sacredness that were used by later jews, by hindus, by buddhists, egyptians, romans, greeks, etc. It was common to depict Roman Emperors with haloes to represent their authority to rule. Christian artwork comes out of that hellenistic milieu.

Basically, it's sort of like how "El" and "Theos" were used for many different deities, but Christians and Jews applied those titles to their God.
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 05:37:30 PM »

Greetings friend! I am always happy to see a Protestant interested in Orthodoxy. I actually just recently converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism.

Sermon:

It varies from Church to Church. Some Orthodox Churches will include about a ten to twenty minute sermon sometime during the Divine Liturgy--usually after the Gospel reading--but then there are some Orthodox Churches that do not include sermons at all or only include them on certain occasions. To a Protestant this may seem very strange and foreign since your Churches usually revolve around the sermon, but in Orthodoxy our style of worship is a bit different. Learning is not necessarily the main purpose of our Church services as it is in Protestant Churches; that is not to say that it does play an important role in our worship, but just that it is not the main focus as it is in many other Churches. Worship to us is more about offering praise to God and really participating in the worship together and living out the worship together because we truly believe that we are in the presence of God at Church. Hence why in our liturgical worship that we chant and hymn everything together, pray together, cross ourselves together and make prostrations together. That is not to say that learning does not play a part in this. In fact, worshipping like this helps us learn because we learn through participation. Also, if you can understand the language, try actually listening carefully to what we are saying during our chanting and hymns. You will find that many times they are actually deep prayers or they teach us a spiritual lesson about something. That alone is probably more than enough learning for most Church attendees in a day!

Confession:

We have Confession. But as to how it differs from the Roman Catholic style, I do not know. In Orthodoxy Confession is a Sacrament that we receive when we need spiritual counseling. Usually when we have a problem, we go to Confession where we face a Cross and Gospel with our Priest standing at our side and we just say whatever is on our mind or whatever we did wrong. Our Priest gives us spiritual counseling, asks questions and acts as the spokesperson for God and then in the end when we are finished and have received counseling and help, we receive the Prayer of Absolution which grants the forgiveness of sins. The Prayer of Absolution is reserved only for Baptised Orthodox Christians, but I am pretty sure you can still go to Confession just for spiritual counseling, but do not expect to receive the Prayer of Absolution until you are received into the Church. There is a lot to this so I would suggest asking the local Orthodox Priest about it.

Kissing:
You do not have to do it if you do not want to, most people understand. But, eventually you will get used to it. I did.

Icons:

The hand gesture signifies the peace that Jesus leaves with us if I remember correctly, however, I could be wrong. The IC XC are the Greek initials for Jesus Christ, and if an Icon happens to have 'NI KA' underneath, that is Greek for 'conquers' so basically it says 'Jesus Christ conquers' as in conquered death. As for the second Icon with the rulers next to him, I do not know.

New names:

You take the name of your patron Saint. A patron Saint is considered your heavenly guardian and is usually the Saint that people develop the closest relationship with. Think of your patron Saint as your spiritual father but one who is in Heaven. You do not have to legally change your name, your new name is only something that people at your Church call you, usually only when you are about to receive a Sacrament. However, some Churches call you by it all the time. Some people's names do not even change at all because their patron Saint might have had the same name as them. Normally your parents would pick your patron Saint and thus the name you would take on, but since you are a convert, either you will have to pick for yourself or your godparents/sponsors will pick for you. If you are going to pick yourself, then it is usually best to pick the Saint that you feel closest to and like the best.
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2012, 12:25:22 AM »

Wow. Thanks for the kind welcomes and the answers Smiley. They've definitely helped to explain things a lot better Smiley.

Greetings friend! I am always happy to see a Protestant interested in Orthodoxy. I actually just recently converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism.

Sermon:

It varies from Church to Church. Some Orthodox Churches will include about a ten to twenty minute sermon sometime during the Divine Liturgy--usually after the Gospel reading--but then there are some Orthodox Churches that do not include sermons at all or only include them on certain occasions. To a Protestant this may seem very strange and foreign since your Churches usually revolve around the sermon, but in Orthodoxy our style of worship is a bit different. Learning is not necessarily the main purpose of our Church services as it is in Protestant Churches; that is not to say that it does play an important role in our worship, but just that it is not the main focus as it is in many other Churches. Worship to us is more about offering praise to God and really participating in the worship together and living out the worship together because we truly believe that we are in the presence of God at Church. Hence why in our liturgical worship that we chant and hymn everything together, pray together, cross ourselves together and make prostrations together. That is not to say that learning does not play a part in this. In fact, worshipping like this helps us learn because we learn through participation. Also, if you can understand the language, try actually listening carefully to what we are saying during our chanting and hymns. You will find that many times they are actually deep prayers or they teach us a spiritual lesson about something. That alone is probably more than enough learning for most Church attendees in a day!

Congratulations Cheesy. I’m still confused. That sounds like a worship-centric service, as compared to a sermon-centric service, but then how do you learn? Unless this is something that has to be not just seen, but seen and participated in, to be understood?

Often you'll see icons or mosaics where the Emperor and/or Empress are offering something to Christ. Usually they're holding a miniature of the church itself, which shows that the emperor is giving the church to God.
Here is St. Constantine doing it in a mosaic:



Notice that the haloes around the Emperor and Empress in the icon you posted are not fancy like Christ's is. Normally, a living Christian emperor has a "hollow halo" with no gold inside, to differentiate them from Christ or a saint. On a gold mosaic background, this effect doesn't really show up as well.
Haloes are an ancient hellenistic symbol for power, authority or sacredness that were used by later jews, by hindus, by buddhists, egyptians, romans, greeks, etc. It was common to depict Roman Emperors with haloes to represent their authority to rule. Christian artwork comes out of that hellenistic milieu.

Basically, it's sort of like how "El" and "Theos" were used for many different deities, but Christians and Jews applied those titles to their God.

So that’s where halos came from haha. Thanks – it makes sense now (I hadn’t noticed that they were giving things to Jesus).

And the- well, one of the reasons for the name change (at least in the Church) is to help signify that by being baptized, you’re beginning a new life, and a new dedication to God, yes? So would it be excessive if someone wanted to go ahead and legally change their name to that of their patron saint?

That reminds me of the other thing that I had wanted to ask (and again apologies for referencing Roman Catholicism - it's the only somewhat nearby reference point I'm aware of Sad). Why is it that the Orthodox Church establishment/leadership(?) hasn't made much of a push with regards to education? There are many examples of Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, etc, universities, but when it comes to Orthodox all of a sudden it seems to be very few. Why?

And also, the Bible that is used is different from the "standard" Baptist(?) one in that there are more books. Where does one find such a bible then, be it digitally or online? Does it also have multiple translations (ie Message, KJV, NIV, NLT) or is it much more cohesive?

Oh, also. Say for example you were to attend a Greek Orthodox Church. Would the church be likely (if it was a larger church) to offer lessons in Greek for converts/those not knowing to learn Greek so as to read from the untranslated texts and participate more fully in the service?

And also (sorry lol) – the process of baptism seems to include a long “waiting period” in which you’re praying and learning about the faith and also being supported and guided by your sponsors and priest. What happens, though, if you’re in a situation where you have to move away or the process is interrupted?
Again, thank you so much for the assistance Smiley.
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2012, 12:49:31 AM »

Just a quick addition which I didn't notice in glancing at the replies.

Kissing-  Part of the Eastern Orthodox understanding of of the priestly ministry is that priests are the Icon of Christ, through their bishop.  Priests bless with their right hand, and that is why we kiss it; we show respect to the hand that blesses.
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2012, 01:01:19 AM »


Sermon:
Congratulations Cheesy. I’m still confused. That sounds like a worship-centric service, as compared to a sermon-centric service, but then how do you learn? Unless this is something that has to be not just seen, but seen and participated in, to be understood?

There is a sermon. It's just not the focus of the service. Also, the hymns themselves are completely packed with theology; much more than anything I ever encountered as a Protestant.
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« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2012, 07:33:40 AM »

Hi all Smiley.

I like you.

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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2012, 08:37:08 AM »


I’m still confused. That sounds like a worship-centric service, as compared to a sermon-centric service, but then how do you learn? Unless this is something that has to be not just seen, but seen and participated in, to be understood?
And don't you agree that a worship service should be worship-centric  Wink?

For those entering Orthodoxy, there will likely be some sort of class. Many parishes will have Bible studies and other opportunities for the intellectual side of our development.

If you regularly attend a variety of services - Vespers, Orthros, Lent and Holy Week services, etc. - you will learn much about the faith. But in Orthodoxy, some things are better felt than telt. Active participation in the services really is the key.
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2012, 09:50:20 AM »

Dear icecream,


Welcome! 

I find the hymnology of the Church to be instructive.  For example, next Sunday will we sing this:

"When the Life-bestower Christ God had resurrected * with His vivifying hand, from the dismal caverns, * all the dead from eternity, He freely bestowed * resurrection on the substance of our mortal humanity. * For He is the Savior of all, resurrection and life, and the God of all things. "

Hymnology is teaching of the Church.  The Orthodox praise and glorify God in hymn.  Many hymns also declare Christian truths, or relate history.

Also,  icons are the teaching of the Church.  It is only recently that printed Bibles are available and people are able to read them. The Church has been teaching for much longer, and has a rich hymnology and iconography to instruct us.

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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2012, 01:46:01 PM »

I'm still confused. That sounds like a worship-centric service, as compared to a sermon-centric service, but then how do you learn? Unless this is something that has to be not just seen, but seen and participated in, to be understood?

A couple things here:

The Divine Liturgy has two main portions, known as the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist/Qurbana. The liturgy of the Word includes many petitions, the Gospel and Epistle reading, and the Sermon/Homily. The Liturgy of the Eucharist includes more petitions, the anaphora, the epiclesis, and the Eucharistic distribution. You'll learn what Anaphora and Epiclesis are later.

The sermon is an important part of the liturgy because of the relation between the Scriptures and the Logos of God (Christ). You eat the words and then eat the Word. I don't know why people here are arguing with you about the importance of the sermon... Anyway, here is a good article to read to better understand the relationship between the Scriptures and the Eucharist:

http://www.monachos.net/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=623&catid=52&Itemid=77

You also wondered about seeing vs. participation. Both halves of the liturgy include a lot of participation. The saying of the creed, the amen to the petitions, the singing of the hymns, the physical reverencing of God, standing aside for the great procession of the Eucharist, participating in the consecration of the Eucharist, Receiving the Eucharist, etc. Listening to the sermon is usually not a group participation event in any church, unless we're talking about a bible study or something, though, right?

Why is it that the Orthodox Church establishment/leadership(?) hasn't made much of a push with regards to education? There are many examples of Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, etc, universities, but when it comes to Orthodox all of a sudden it seems to be very few. Why?

In America, Orthodoxy is very small. We do have a few universities, though.

I suppose creating a bunch of quasi-secular institutions to educate non-seminarians in some quasi-religious setting doesn't really seem like a major priority, since the Catholics already did that here. It's not like you'll get some sort of "Catholic indoctrination" in a Jesuit university these days.

And also, the Bible that is used is different from the "standard" Baptist(?) one in that there are more books. Where does one find such a bible then, be it digitally or online? Does it also have multiple translations (ie Message, KJV, NIV, NLT) or is it much more cohesive?
The extra books are all in the Old Testament. A few translations:

The New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) is available online for free, last time I checked. Just the Old Testament.

The Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha is Old Testament and New Testament, with all the extra OT books. You can sometimes find a slim blue book for four dollars at a used bookstore that contains just the apocrypha in RSV translation. Looks like you can pick that little book up for $7 on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Apocrypha-Old-Testament-Thomas-Nelson/dp/B0062WHDBO/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342720553&sr=1-7

The Orthodox Study Bible contains a "new" translation of the Septuagint, but I'd read reviews about that here before buying one.

...a few suggestions.
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2012, 03:12:59 PM »

Hello there, fellow Protestant Seeker! Smiley I'm new, too. Smiley Nice to meetcha!  laugh
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2012, 03:41:06 PM »

Former born and raised Southern Baptist here:

Orthodox Worship:
You noted a great deal of our worship is chanted or sung. This is the tradition from even before the founding of the Church. We understand that when we are gathered together at the set times of worship and prayer, that is the focus of what we do. We worship and we pray. In Orthodox worship it almost axiomatic that all our hymns are prayers and all our prayers are hymns.  It may not be literally so…but close enough to it.

Orthodox worship is God oriented, not man oriented. We come together as a body to offer ourselves to God and to receive Him in turn. So we face the altar behind our priest and begin the divine ascent with the priest's entoning of "Blessed is the Kingdom of our God…" If you come early enough and stay late enough you will also observe that it is the Orthodox practice to pray before we pray and to pray after we pray.

There are two basic historical sources for the structure of Orthodox worship. The first is the the service of the Tabernacle/Temple as was revealed through Moses and Aaron. When the Hebrews went into exile under the Babylonians they were cut off from the Temple and used a modified version of the Temple service for their worship and instruction in a foreign land.  This became the synagogue service, which itself was retained with modifications in the Christian Church.  So Orthodox worship falls into two parts: The Liturgy of the Word which is derived from the synagogue service. It focuses on prayers, scripture reading with explanation/homily. The end of the scripture reading together (usually) with a sermon on one or both of the texts (epistle or Gospel) comes at the end of the first part. Historically this portion was open to all believers, catechumens, and inquirers. It was the public part of Christian community. The second part, the Divine Liturgy was originally separated from the Liturgy of the Word and the call "the doors, the doors" is belongs to this very early time. At this call all catechumens, inquirers and believers not communing or in a penitential status left and the doors of the meeting were closed and locked/barred. Then the Divine Liturgy which was intended only for the faithful in good standing was begun. Its service was modeled on those of the Temple (specifically that associated with the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies) and on those Scriptures which show us the Heavenly Worship, with the offering of bread and wine substituted for the offering of a live animal. The consecration of the gifts correspond to the priestly immolation which consigned the offerings to the fire…though in this case, it is the fire of the Holy Spirit who descends and changes bread and wine into the pure Body and precious Blood of our Saviour. It was only many years after the legalization of Christianity in the Roman empire that the services stopped actually dismissing those not communing. It was because of that that the iconostasis was installed, growing from a men/woman latticework partition, to a guard rail around the altar to a curtain support (like the rood screen of ancient Anglican churches) to a wall like partition with mounted icons so as to preserve the sight of Holy things for the Holy (at least in theory if not always in practice). The curtain and later icon screen structurally took the place of an actual dismissal.

The other thing to understand about the nature and form of Orthodox worship is that we regard it as revealed by God, not invented by man. On Mt. Sinai, God showed Moses the worship of Heaven, and a form modeled on it was given to Aaron for the Tabernacle. Various prophets in ages since have been given glimpses of that Heavenly worship in progress…one of the most complete being that of St. John in the Revelation. Orthodox Christian worship stands in that direct stream that was first revealed to Moses. We worship as we do because in truth there is only one worship in the whole universe, the worship we see in Heaven. Our worship if it is to be worship must participate in and make present iconically speaking that Heavenly worship…we must join with the angels round about the Throne…not just do our own thing and hope God likes it as much as we do. He showed us what He wants, so that is what we do.  

We recall that when Christ spoke to the woman at the well and she asked him about the "where" of worship the mountain we use or the temple your people use, Christ answered this question of where with "in Spirit and Truth" This speaks to the heart of worship, our internal orientation as it were while worshiping, it does not speak to the how of worship…that was revealed in the worship given for the Tabernacle and Temple and later adapted for worship under the New Covenant by the Apostles and other approved leaders of their generation.  

Chanting
You may notice as a rule when Scripture is read it is chanted. This goes back to Synagogue practice. It is very ancient….but it is also pragmatic.  1. Most times before ours were not highly literate, and even where rates were relatively high, there were no such things as printed books. The only copies of Scripture around belonged to a Church or a monastery or maybe a very rich person's library. To encounter Scripture for most people, it had to be heard as it was read. 2. In order for it to be heard when read, especially to a large crowd, one needs two things, a mode that carries over a distance, and a voice/modulation that presents the text rather than 'interprets' the text through the manner in which it is read.  Hence chanting.  The voice affect is generally flat reducing the interjection of personal emphases (effectively interpretations), and songlike so that it carries and can be heard and understood by many in a large space.

Instruction
Historically speaking the office of instruction in the faith is associated with the duties of the Bishop. In the service there is some room for basic instruction/explanation in the homily, the sermon that follows the reading of Scripture, but the method of more detailed instruction is not modeled on a lecturer/student arrangement. Rather the ancient model is master/disciple. This is the method used in our monasteries and something like it is the method used by most priests when dealing with the needs of inquirers and new converts…generally a mix of small classes to handle broad matters and individual counseling/instruction for more complex or nuanced.  It is also the role of sponsors to help their godchildren with navigating/understanding the faith. They can help with most initial issues and can recommend when something needs to be addressed by the priest.   So we don't have a lot of regular seminar style teaching…it's more tailored to the needs of the person, more interpersonal, relies more on observation and example, and in a sense, is more organic.

Emperors and the like in icons. When you see two figures on either side of an image of Christ (generally enthroned) bowing towards him, this form is called a Diesis. It means prayer.  So what you are seeing is two people, saints or angels as a rule offering their worship and/or a gift of their labor (like a church building) to Christ.


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« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2012, 03:45:34 PM »

Congratulations Cheesy. I’m still confused. That sounds like a worship-centric service, as compared to a sermon-centric service, but then how do you learn? Unless this is something that has to be not just seen, but seen and participated in, to be understood?

We believe that you learn through participation and worship and that learning through a sermon is useful, but generally comes second to actually living out the faith in Church through worship rather than just hearing a Priest talk about it. Likewise, we also learn through the hymns that we chant and sing while worshipping. If you listen carefully to them, the hymns actually always teach us an important lesson about God. All in all though, most Orthodox Churches do include at least a short sermon at every service just to clarify some things for the congregation about what we are learning through the worship, but it mostly plays a very small part in the service as a whole.
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« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2012, 04:56:51 PM »

Your parents can take you to the garage and show you their car.  They can teach you about the steering wheel and the brakes.  They can even teach you how to set the GPS.  You can study mechanics, and learn how the motor functions....but, you are still stuck in the garage.

Until you actually get behind that wheel and go for a spin, you will remain in that garage.  You can't learn to drive, until you actually leave the garage.

Orthodoxy is not parked in a garage, it is a beautiful scenic drive through this world, onto to the next.
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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2012, 07:58:38 PM »


Or the kiwi version - take vanilla ice cream packaged in a rectangular "brick" shape, cut into slices and slap each piece between two wafer biscuits, like so:



Personally, I want to try this one:



Welcome to the forum, ice cream sandwich! Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2012, 02:09:44 AM »

but then how do you learn?

That depends on what you're there to learn. If you're looking for a series of facts, you'll certainly get some of that, but you'll probably leave disappointed. If you're there to learn what it means to encounter and know God, then the Liturgy will benefit you a great deal more.
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« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2012, 07:31:50 AM »

but then how do you learn?

That depends on what you're there to learn. If you're looking for a series of facts, you'll certainly get some of that, but you'll probably leave disappointed. If you're there to learn what it means to encounter and know God, then the Liturgy will benefit you a great deal more.

I agree.   Being that you've had no exposure to an EO liturgy I would also suggest listening to some music

http://www.amazon.com/The-Divine-Liturgy-Orthodox-Church/dp/B00759HKWK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1343043098&sr=8-2&keywords=divine+liturgy+drillock

I came from a non-liturgical background the first time I began looking into the EO church.  It was like entering a new and strange world.  The whole experience was a feast for the senses, but it also left me frustrated at times because I would get so lost.  Just realize it takes time to get acclimated to it.

And welcome to the forums
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« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2012, 12:32:06 PM »

OK, again, thank you for the welcomes and the assistance Cheesy. I have a quick update Smiley.

I went to a local OCA church yesterday morning and I REALLY liked it. Having read the answers to this thread, and read that “12 things I wish I knew” article really helped explain most of it. I was still taken by surprise in parts, but it wasn’t as totally different as it could have been had I not taken any time to read and learn and prepare.

And I like how seriously everything is taken. For example, the lady who welcomed us (I think she was just a layperson but she was SO KIND lol) when we met her outside she was just talking with some family / friends, casually, and then when it was time to enter the church, she stopped outside the door, put on a scarf, and then crossed herself before entering, kissing the icons, and then going to light a candle then finding a place to worship. You could see that the attitude changed. It’s like, “now I’m in church and I’m here to worship God”.

And the other people coming in did the same thing – crossing themselves, and then kissing the icons and then moving backwards to find a place. Meanwhile other people would come in and it’s as though they weren’t being paid attention to. It was like being a part of something bigger.

Also the church itself – it was so beautiful, haha. Icons everywhere – so many icons… And the incense smelled nice as well haha. I don’t know what it was, but the time zoomed by. Somehow (this is admittedly rare for me) I was able to concentrate really well during the service: a two hour long service and my mind barely wandered lol. I was also able to stand for the vast majority of it without tiring Cheesy

I also noticed what was mentioned on here – the hymns are filled with theology and teaching haha. It was understated but still beautiful, somehow. And everything is a symbol. Everything! Things were explained to me by a kind gentleman who was explaining how the Bible being brought out comes back to the time when they couldn’t keep Bibles in the church, and how one of the hymns that was sung came from the time of Justinian the Great…

The funny thing is, having come out, I can’t stop thinking about the Divine Liturgy and the reverberations and I want to go again haha. It’s as though there is some “emptiness” I’m now aware of, and that the worship I have been accustomed to is lacking…


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« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2012, 12:39:10 PM »

OK, again, thank you for the welcomes and the assistance Cheesy. I have a quick update Smiley.

I went to a local OCA church yesterday morning and I REALLY liked it. Having read the answers to this thread, and read that “12 things I wish I knew” article really helped explain most of it. I was still taken by surprise in parts, but it wasn’t as totally different as it could have been had I not taken any time to read and learn and prepare.

And I like how seriously everything is taken. For example, the lady who welcomed us (I think she was just a layperson but she was SO KIND lol) when we met her outside she was just talking with some family / friends, casually, and then when it was time to enter the church, she stopped outside the door, put on a scarf, and then crossed herself before entering, kissing the icons, and then going to light a candle then finding a place to worship. You could see that the attitude changed. It’s like, “now I’m in church and I’m here to worship God”.

And the other people coming in did the same thing – crossing themselves, and then kissing the icons and then moving backwards to find a place. Meanwhile other people would come in and it’s as though they weren’t being paid attention to. It was like being a part of something bigger.

Also the church itself – it was so beautiful, haha. Icons everywhere – so many icons… And the incense smelled nice as well haha. I don’t know what it was, but the time zoomed by. Somehow (this is admittedly rare for me) I was able to concentrate really well during the service: a two hour long service and my mind barely wandered lol. I was also able to stand for the vast majority of it without tiring Cheesy

I also noticed what was mentioned on here – the hymns are filled with theology and teaching haha. It was understated but still beautiful, somehow. And everything is a symbol. Everything! Things were explained to me by a kind gentleman who was explaining how the Bible being brought out comes back to the time when they couldn’t keep Bibles in the church, and how one of the hymns that was sung came from the time of Justinian the Great…

The funny thing is, having come out, I can’t stop thinking about the Divine Liturgy and the reverberations and I want to go again haha. It’s as though there is some “emptiness” I’m now aware of, and that the worship I have been accustomed to is lacking




I felt the same way. Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2012, 12:59:22 PM »


Excellent!

I knew you'd like it!!!

Welcome to the world of Orthodoxy!
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« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2012, 01:09:32 PM »

Great!  Kind of like the emissaries of St, Vladimir, about their visit to the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople, "We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth..."
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« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2012, 01:49:56 PM »

Congrats, you have just entered a new world, and your journey has just begun.  Grin
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« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2012, 02:25:55 PM »

That's so great! Please do keep us posted. Smiley I am eager to visit a church myself (know of one, and perhaps another, I'd like to visit) but still have not yet.  Need to do it on a weekend when kids are with their father...it is SO vastly different from what we are used to... I want to have at least some kind of handle on what is going on, first, so I can explain to them so they are not freaked out (they are 9 and 11).  They are also not used to staying in service for the entire time, either... our church has them there for first few worship songs, then the kids are dismissed for children's church and come back shortly before communion.  So I am very curious about anything you observed relating to kids (older than babies but not teens) in the service, and whatnot.  Not to hijack your thread, just curious about your inital observations if any on that, because its a big consideration for me.  Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2012, 02:41:58 PM »

I'm so glad your first experience was so positive, Icecreamsandwich.  How encouraging!


That's so great! Please do keep us posted. Smiley I am eager to visit a church myself (know of one, and perhaps another, I'd like to visit) but still have not yet.  Need to do it on a weekend when kids are with their father...it is SO vastly different from what we are used to... I want to have at least some kind of handle on what is going on, first, so I can explain to them so they are not freaked out (they are 9 and 11).  They are also not used to staying in service for the entire time, either... our church has them there for first few worship songs, then the kids are dismissed for children's church and come back shortly before communion.  So I am very curious about anything you observed relating to kids (older than babies but not teens) in the service, and whatnot.  Not to hijack your thread, just curious about your inital observations if any on that, because its a big consideration for me.  Smiley

If I may suggest a book?

http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Take-Through-Orthodox-Church/dp/1880971399/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343068917&sr=8-1&keywords=a+walk+through+an+orthodox+church

I used this one and some others with my young children when we entered Orthodoxy.  The pictures aren't so great, but it is a nice way to introduce some elements of an Orthodox church and its worship.
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« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2012, 02:44:18 PM »

In our parish the children are present up to Communion, after which they are sent to Sunday school. I know of other parishes that have Sunday school before or after DL.
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« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2012, 02:48:25 PM »

Haha no problem Smiley. From what I can remember there were quite a few children in the service, but from what I can gather they seemed to be being raised Orthodox - I remember seeing a girl (maybe 10? 12?) going up to the icons and kissing them and finding her place to stand. So she clearly knew what she was doing.

I think the best bet would be to stay near a bench (the benches in the Church I attended were along the 3 walls closest to the entrance door. (in other words, with _ being the wall of the door, |_|), so if you stay there your children can sit (noone seems to mind if you sit, truthfully), and you'll be near the entrance if you need to exit. The Church I attended had no pews other than those by the walls - it was an empty space in the middle apart from the icon of Jesus. There wasn't a "Sunday service" of any kind that I noticed, though, so you might have to be inside for all, if not most, of the service.

Besides the answers here, I found these to be very helpful in showing what to expect and how to behave, but

http://www.frederica.com/12-things/
http://www.theophany.org/orthodoxFaith_etiquette.htm

Of course someone better versed in all of this can give more help than I. Hope this helps...
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« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2012, 03:44:54 AM »

That's so great! Please do keep us posted. Smiley I am eager to visit a church myself (know of one, and perhaps another, I'd like to visit) but still have not yet.  Need to do it on a weekend when kids are with their father...it is SO vastly different from what we are used to... I want to have at least some kind of handle on what is going on, first, so I can explain to them so they are not freaked out (they are 9 and 11).  They are also not used to staying in service for the entire time, either... our church has them there for first few worship songs, then the kids are dismissed for children's church and come back shortly before communion.  So I am very curious about anything you observed relating to kids (older than babies but not teens) in the service, and whatnot.  Not to hijack your thread, just curious about your inital observations if any on that, because its a big consideration for me.  Smiley

Kids are generally completely welcome and involved in the Liturgy. It's one of the things that I've always found much preferable about Orthodoxy compared to my Protestant past. I've never been in a parish where the kids are sent out for Sunday school or the like, though there has generally been an area towards the back of the church where the younger ones can play quietly when they get bored and parents do generally take them out of the church briefly if they start playing up. Mostly I find that children can be children in the Liturgy and are tolerated, though. As an example, when my son was maybe 2 or 3 he had a stuffed toy of Melman the giraffe from Madagascar which he took to DL with him. When the priest came out to cense the congregation my son decided he would follow on behind holding Melman by the head and censing the congregation too! My ex-Protestant feelings of horror rose to the top and I went to stop him only to be told to leave him be by most of the old babuscas - nobody minded at all (other than me). My son's 10 now (or will be in a couple of days) so he's a similar age to yours. Feel free to ask away if you have any questions I may be able to help answer, but I certainly wouldn't worry too much about the kids - my feeling is they'll likely find it easy to adapt. They'll probably also quickly make new friends if the parish is as full of children as they usually are.

James
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« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2012, 03:55:30 AM »

That's so great! Please do keep us posted. Smiley I am eager to visit a church myself (know of one, and perhaps another, I'd like to visit) but still have not yet.  Need to do it on a weekend when kids are with their father...it is SO vastly different from what we are used to... I want to have at least some kind of handle on what is going on, first, so I can explain to them so they are not freaked out (they are 9 and 11).  They are also not used to staying in service for the entire time, either... our church has them there for first few worship songs, then the kids are dismissed for children's church and come back shortly before communion.  So I am very curious about anything you observed relating to kids (older than babies but not teens) in the service, and whatnot.  Not to hijack your thread, just curious about your inital observations if any on that, because its a big consideration for me.  Smiley

Kids are generally completely welcome and involved in the Liturgy. It's one of the things that I've always found much preferable about Orthodoxy compared to my Protestant past. I've never been in a parish where the kids are sent out for Sunday school or the like, though there has generally been an area towards the back of the church where the younger ones can play quietly when they get bored and parents do generally take them out of the church briefly if they start playing up. Mostly I find that children can be children in the Liturgy and are tolerated, though. As an example, when my son was maybe 2 or 3 he had a stuffed toy of Melman the giraffe from Madagascar which he took to DL with him. When the priest came out to cense the congregation my son decided he would follow on behind holding Melman by the head and censing the congregation too! My ex-Protestant feelings of horror rose to the top and I went to stop him only to be told to leave him be by most of the old babuscas - nobody minded at all (other than me). My son's 10 now (or will be in a couple of days) so he's a similar age to yours. Feel free to ask away if you have any questions I may be able to help answer, but I certainly wouldn't worry too much about the kids - my feeling is they'll likely find it easy to adapt. They'll probably also quickly make new friends if the parish is as full of children as they usually are.

James


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« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2012, 06:55:27 AM »

As an example, when my son was maybe 2 or 3 he had a stuffed toy of Melman the giraffe from Madagascar which he took to DL with him. When the priest came out to cense the congregation my son decided he would follow on behind holding Melman by the head and censing the congregation too! My ex-Protestant feelings of horror rose to the top and I went to stop him only to be told to leave him be by most of the old babuscas - nobody minded at all (other than me).

I've seen that too. The boy was quite surprised when I bowed my head in front of him.
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« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2012, 07:01:30 AM »



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« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2012, 12:22:13 PM »

Kids (even little ones) seem to take to Orthodoxy like little ducklings to water. Even though the little ones sometimes get fussy and have to be taken out to settle down, they seem to get along better in a church where people stand and there's a lot going on and a lot to look at.
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« Reply #35 on: July 24, 2012, 01:35:40 PM »

There wasn't a "Sunday service" of any kind that I noticed, though, so you might have to be inside for all, if not most, of the service.

Do you mean that your churches in the past hold Sunday Services outside of the church building?
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« Reply #36 on: July 24, 2012, 02:10:46 PM »

Yes. At some point during the service (usually before the offering I think, definitely before the sermon) we'd be taken out of the "main" building and to a smaller building for Sunday School, recombining with our parents just as their service ended
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« Reply #37 on: July 24, 2012, 02:31:39 PM »

At some point during the service (usually before the offering I think, definitely before the sermon) we'd be taken out of the "main" building and to a smaller building for Sunday School, recombining with our parents just as their service ended

Some Orthodox  parishes also do that but it's not a good practise.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 02:32:10 PM by Michał Kalina » Logged

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« Reply #38 on: July 24, 2012, 03:09:01 PM »

Why not?
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« Reply #39 on: July 24, 2012, 03:11:15 PM »

Why not?
Because children are full members of the Church, and we don't think they should be set aside from the common work of the Church (that's what 'leitourgia'/liturgy means) so that they can attend a separate class or something.

Not against "Sunday school" or kids classes, just against having them during the Liturgy. My parish has a little class for children before the Liturgy starts.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 03:11:51 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #40 on: July 24, 2012, 03:15:11 PM »

Why not?
Because children are full members of the Church, and we don't think they should be set aside from the common work of the Church (that's what 'leitourgia'/liturgy means) so that they can attend a separate class or something.

Not against "Sunday school" or kids classes, just against having them during the Liturgy. My parish has a little class for children before the Liturgy starts.

I agree.  Our parish has Church School after liturgy. 
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« Reply #41 on: July 24, 2012, 03:55:56 PM »

Why not?
Because children are full members of the Church, and we don't think they should be set aside from the common work of the Church (that's what 'leitourgia'/liturgy means)

Now that's cool.  When we joined our current (non-Orthodox) church, it was just the adults who joined; the kids would officially join when they were older and were confirmed.  Never reallly thought much about it, tho, till I read the above quote. Smiley
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« Reply #42 on: July 24, 2012, 03:59:31 PM »

Why not?
Because children are full members of the Church, and we don't think they should be set aside from the common work of the Church (that's what 'leitourgia'/liturgy means)

Now that's cool.  When we joined our current (non-Orthodox) church, it was just the adults who joined; the kids would officially join when they were older and were confirmed.  Never reallly thought much about it, tho, till I read the above quote. Smiley

The children, even the infants, also receive Holy Communion, btw.
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« Reply #43 on: July 24, 2012, 04:04:02 PM »

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« Reply #44 on: July 26, 2012, 02:59:22 PM »

Why not?
Because children are full members of the Church, and we don't think they should be set aside from the common work of the Church (that's what 'leitourgia'/liturgy means) so that they can attend a separate class or something.

Not against "Sunday school" or kids classes, just against having them during the Liturgy. My parish has a little class for children before the Liturgy starts.

This makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the explanation Smiley
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