Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church begins when the priest exclaims, “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Our worship is an entering into the Kingdom. We are even reminded about ½ way through the service to lay aside all earthly cares and worship the Only-Sinless One. Liturgy is not a drama or reenactment. It is a breaking through, a stepping out of time as we join the heavenly worship. It is mystical, transformative, timeless and Divine.
The one thing you will have difficulty finding near most Orthodox altars is a clock. Furthermore, the Orthodox priest’s vestments include cuffs that prevent him from looking at, or even wearing, his watch during Liturgy.
So the last thing I should have done this past Sunday, when I knew Orthros was ending early, was to glance at my phone to get the time. Here is what my iPhone told me:
- It prominently displayed 8:52 a.m. I was getting ready to make most of my people 8 minutes late for Liturgy.
- It had a text from my daughter that said, “We just got into a car wreck. We’re okay but both cars are damaged.”
That was when I had to exclaim, “Blessed is the Kingdom…” and then chant, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life.” It was a tough way to begin the Liturgy.