Go to Liturgical Services Regularly
In this week’s maxim from Fr. Thomas Hopko’s 55 Maxims for Christian Living, we focus on the value when we “Go to Liturgical Services Regularly.” One of the most dangerous assumptions that modern life holds for us modern Christians is the false idea that Church is for Sunday morning. The unintended result of the imprisonment of a liturgical life that is limited to Sunday morning is that we too often contain God’s power and priority in our lives to the same few weekly hours we devote to Him. When we only devote time to God weekly, we devote time to God weakly.
This week’s reflection, once again from Fr. Richard Anderson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, addresses the importance of going to services more regularly.
Kids, do you ever say to your parents, “Do we have to go to church?” Parents, do you ever say to yourself, “Do I have to go to church?” Everyone, have you ever heard someone say, “I’m spiritual but I’m not religious. Why do I need to go to Church?” Today, I’ve got answers to your questions.
You are made to Worship
We are all spiritual in that we have a soul, we are all religious in that we show reverence, love and devotion through ceremonial prayer to the things our soul considers sacred. To deny one or the other or both is to deny the very essence of who we are. What animates, what moves us, what motivates us? It is our soul. Our soul is our spirit.
Genesis 1:26 tells us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. In Exodus 20:2,4,7,8, the first four commandments are related to the spiritual, religious worship of God. There He tells us: 1) I am God, don’t have any others (v.2); 2) Don’t make any idols (v.4); 3) Do not use Lord’s name in vain (v.7); 4) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (v.8).
God knows us. He made us. If we do not worship the God of Israel, the Father with His Son our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, then we will worship something or someone else. That’s an idol.
You go to Church to fulfill who you are, to do what you were made to do. Could anyone honestly say I’m a student and not attend school?
Where do you want to go after your life on earth ends? Heaven, right? What does everyone, who is already there do? What do the angels, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and all the Saints do in heaven? They worship! Who made our worship?
Our worship is different from other churches including incense, chanting, icons, candles, standing, kneeling, making sign of cross. Some might say that our worship was invented by some bishop or group of bishops a few centuries ago. Others say that New Testament worship was spontaneous. However, the reality is that our Divine Liturgy we celebrate today is essentially the same, at its core, as they Liturgy of the 1st century Christians.
Moreover, the Apostles and first disciples were Jews. When they became followers of Christ, they did not invent some new worship of Him. Rather, they took the forms and rituals of the worship they new, Judaic worship, and gave it a Christian character. Look at Jesus Himself, He observed all the rituals of worship including fasts, feasts and pilgrimages. Divine Liturgy is rooted in ancient Judaic worship.
Judaic worship came from the same commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai by God Himself. Therefore, Our Orthodox Christian Worship is the Earthly Component of the Eternal Worship in Heaven. The structure and decoration of our temple (church building) along with the words, prayers, petitions and rubrics of the services all reflect the nature of heavenly worship. It’s where we go to hear the words of instruction on how to live life on earth in preparation for eternal life in heaven.
One Christian is no Christian.
We cannot be a follower of Christ in isolation. We must be connected to a community of Faith. We must be connected to THE community of Faith?The Church (the Ecclesia)
St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 There are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
He continues in verses 12 For just as the body is one has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free?and all were made to drink on one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. After the analogy of the human body to emphasize the importance of all parts, he summarizes his point in verses 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
When we say, “I don’t need to go to Church,” we’re also saying, “I don’t need any of you.” This directly contradicts what St. Paul is saying.
Do I have to go to Church? Well, God gave you free-will so I guess you can do whatever you want. Do I need to go to Church? Well, if you want to be who you were created by God to be, if you want to prepare for eternal life, if you want help from others to prepare, well then, yes, you do need to go to Church.