“It is time for the Lord to act.”
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
As we complete the Doxology at the end of every Orthros, the Deacon or the Celebrant of the Divine Liturgy exclaims the following words in a typically subdued voice, “It is time for the Lord to act.” Most of you, if not all of you, do not hear this being said, unless you are in the Altar at that particular time! In saying these words, we acknowledge the fact that the Lord is at work at all times in the services of the Church, especially at the Divine Liturgy where Bread and the wine are consecrated into the Body and Blood of Christ.
It is not the clergy’s work alone, nor just the presence and participation of the people in the Liturgy, but God is very much present through the Grace and Working of the Holy Spirit. There exists a very real dynamic of “synergy” taking place between God, the celebrant/celebrants and the people present at this Holy Service of the Divine Liturgy, including also the “Church Triumphant” made up of all the Angels, Prophets, Saints and Martyrs invisibly present with us, whom we do not see, where each is an integral and necessary part of the service. The word “synergy” means “working together.”
Do you realize that you are each such an important part of the services when you attend? We are meant to be participants in the worship, especially the corporate worship when we come together as a Community to pray. It may seem like we’re just part of a ritual, merely observers, or just doing our good deed for the week by showing up at one point in the church services. But our Lord clearly states what it is that is taking place when we gather together: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) Wow, that is truly magnificent! God is with us! Glory be to God! Whenever I begin my homily/sermon, it is not merely for being repetitious that I exclaim the glad tidings, “Christ is in our midst!” He truly “was, is and always shall be” with us! This is what the “Good News” is, that He is with us in His Love, Mercy and Glory! Even after we depart from the Divine Liturgy, God continues to be with us in our everyday lives. It doesn’t end and it is not suppose to conclude when we exit out of the Church’s doors. The Good News continues! God continues to be with us! Just as synergy is being actualized whenever we are in the Divine Liturgy, the same working together applies everyday of the week when we go through our daily routine in our lives. When we leave the confounds of the Church building, we give flesh to what we just experienced in the Divine Liturgy to the world and everyone we come in contact with. This is what is meant by “living the liturgy after the Liturgy!”
This action of “living the liturgy after the Liturgy” is applicable at so many levels in our daily lives. It is realized in our homes, at work, at school, at the market places, in our vehicles, in our dealing with every person we encounter, etc. At home, for example, we can pray to God individually, as married couples, as single persons, and as a family. We can have discussions at the common meal, usually dinner, sharing our reflections about how God touches our lives personally. At work we can embody Christ in our dealings with various personalities, by empathizing, being courteous, avoiding gossip and being forgiving where we don’t see “eye to eye.” At school we can be honest and hard working, avoiding the temptation to cheat in our work and tests, and also reaching out to kids that may be shy or having a difficult time fitting in with others. When we go shopping, we can be courteous and kind to all despite the stress of the crowds. We can be kind and open doors for those that need some sort of a kind courtesy. When someone is not nice to us on the road, we can avoid the temptation to show that person that he/she did us wrong, by dropping the need to “get even.” Simply, smile, as you can make a difference in someone’s life who is having a difficult time. Be the “ripple” in the water that makes a positive change in the world we live in!
In closing. I share a beautiful quote on the Divine Liturgy by St. John of Kronstadt: “The Divine Liturgy is truly a heavenly service on earth, in which God Himself, in a particular, immediate and most close manner is present and dwells with men, for He Himself is the invisible celebrant of the service; He is both the Offerer and the Offering. There is on earth nothing higher, greater, more holy than the liturgy; nothing more solemn, nothing more life-giving.
With Love in Christ,
Sunday after Holy Cross; Nikitas the Great Martyr; Philotheos the Righteous; Bessarion of Larissa; Righteous Father Symeon, Archbishop of Thessolonica; John the New Martyr of Crete; Afterfeast of the Holy Cross; Porphyrios the Actor