The Eternal Liturgy
Worship in the Orthodox Tradition
January 1, 1997
Over a thousand years ago, when emissaries from the Russian prince Vladimir went to Constantinople and stood in the Liturgy at the Church of Christ the Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, they
did not know whether they were in heaven or on earth. The grandeur of the cathedral, the unearthly music, the choirs, the majestic iconography, the rites of worship, the elders in white vesture falling
before the Throne of God and singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" with all the angels and an innumerable company of saints, altogether bore them to the heavenlies. So it is today.
The worship of the Orthodox Church is meant to be nothing less than participation in the eternal Liturgy at the Throne of God in heaven. It is the earthly type, symbol, and image of the heavenly reality; and through these earthly types, by the Holy Spirit, we actually participate in the
This is the same model as the Temple in Jerusalem, where it was God who first gave directions on how to build the Tabernacle and conduct worship. And for its restoration, direction was again given in visions to Ezekiel and the other prophets.
Isaiah and Daniel were given entrance to the heavenly Liturgy. Their vision was partial, for it was yet to be fulfilled in Christ. So also John the Beloved Disciple was given a vision of the Heavenly Liturgy, as described in Revelation 4-6. But the revelation to John was of the Heavenly Liturgy fulfilled in Christ, who is seated with the Father on his throne.
It is Christ who conducts the eternal Divine Liturgy as the Great High Priest of the New Covenant, who enters the Heavenly Tabernacle with his own blood and offers himself slain in sacrifice, in the eternal act of self-offering in thanksgiving to the Father, so that he will send down in return the ...