The Orthodox Christian Faith
- Do you have to be Greek to attend the Greek Orthodox Church?
- What should I know before my first visit to an Orthodox Christian parish?
- What is Orthodox Christianity?
- What is the Church?
- How old is Orthodox Christianity?
- What is Faith?
- How can I personally know God?
- Who is JESUS?
- The 2nd coming of Christ?
- What do Orthodox Christians believe about the afterlife, heaven and hell?
- How can I learn more about the Orthodox Christian faith?
1. Do you have to be Greek to attend the Greek Orthodox Church?
No, the Orthodox Church is for everyone who wishes to draw nearer to God. When there are ethnic or national designations before the word "Orthodox" it is in reference to the region and culture from which that church has its origin, and to the self-governing Church to which that parish belongs.
The DIVINE LITURGY is the main weekly worship service for Orthodox Christians and, at our parish, begins at 10:00 AM every Sunday.
Other services at our parish include ORTHOS, also called Matins, which is a morning prayer service often held immediately before the Divine Liturgy, and VESPERS, an evening prayer service.
All are welcome to attend any of these weekly services. For a complete schedule of services and events at our parish, please see our calendar.
PROPER ETTIQUETTE AND ATTIRE
The Divine Liturgy concludes with the reception of the Holy Eucharist by the approaching faithful. You will be able to identify this portion of the liturgy by the priest’s emergence from behind the iconostasis and the lines of people forming towards the front.
NOTE: The Holy Eucharist is the sacred body and blood, offered on our behalf by the Lord Jesus Christ. As such it is for those baptized Orthodox Christians who have prepared through prayer and fasting for its reception. If you are not an Orthodox Christian, please do not approach for reception of the Holy Eucharist.
When we say all are welcome we mean it. Our parish is a family for all individuals regardless of nationality, age, ability or ethnicity. We welcome children to attend our services and we don’t mind a little noise. If your child becomes restless or fussy, please feel free to step out until they have calmed down. There is a room directly outside of the nave (chapel) designated for this purpose.
Please dress as respectfully and modestly for the occasion as you are able, but if all you have available are shorts and a t-shirt, please join us as you are. Parishioners typically dress according to the business casual standard.
3. What is Orthodox Christianity?
Orthodox Christianity is, first and foremost, the way of life initiated by Jesus Christ and a living body comprised of those who believe in Him. As an institution, Orthodox Christianity is the second-largest Christian organization in the world with 225-300 million adherents.
The CHURCH IS PEOPLE - GOD's PEOPLE - WHO
- gather together in His name, thereby calling themselves Christian;
- share a common faith and hope based on the love of God;
- affirm the truth, or orthodoxy, of their faith, belief and experience; and
- proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all.
An orthdox Christian, then, is one who fully lives and proclaims God's Truth as it has been revealed by Jesus Christ and experienced everywhere and at all times by His People, the Church.
4. What is the Church?
A BODY MADE UP OF GOD'S PEOPLE...
...you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God's people (Peter 2:9, 19)
WHO BELONG TO CHRIST AND TO ONE ANOTHER.
We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:5).
JESUS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH...
He is the head of the body, the Church (Colossians 1:18)
...AND IN HIM WE ARE FIRMLY ROOTED.
...you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:19-21).
AS THE CHURCH, WE EXPERIENCE THE FULLNES OF GOD"S LOVE FOR US.
...Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27)
5. How old is Orthodox Christianity?
Orthodox Christianity is the successor of the long tradition of communion with the one, true God recorded in both the Old and New Testaments extending back to Old Testament figures like Abraham and Moses. The Church established by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was founded in the year 33 AD. It has since preserved and shared the good news which was once and for all delivered by Christ to the Apostles.
For Orthodox Christians, faith is more than just ideas and beliefs. It has often been said that, for Orthodox Christians, faith is a verb (an action) as well as a noun (something you possess).
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Ephesians1:11).
Faith is the very foundation of our lives as Orthodox Christians and is made manifest through the actions central to the Christian life, namely prayer, fasting and love. Without faith, God cannot fully reveal Himself to us through Jesus Christ.
Faith enables us to know God and is essential for our healing and eternal life.
God does not hide Himself from us. As Psalm 118:26-27 points out, "God is the Lord and has revealed Himself unto us; blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord."
We can know God and to have a relationship with Him because He has shown Himself to us. While it is impossible to know His innermost being or essence, we have been shown that which we can see, understand, and grasp of His divine nature and will.
In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself in many ways;
As the Author and Source of Life, and as the very foundation of existence itself. He is the one who is all-powerful, all knowing, all-merciful, ever existing, and eternal. He is the One, Holy, Lord God of all.
Moses encountered God in the form of a burning bush.
God revealed Himself through the prophets. The prophets were called to proclaim God's will and to call His people to lead holy lives.
In the New Testament, God revealed Himself through JESUS CHRIST. Jesus is God's greatest revelation to his people. Jesus came into the world to complete God's revelation.
8. Who is JESUS?
Orthodox Christians believe that Jesus is;
- the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners
- the long-awaited Saviour and Messiah -or- Christ, the One who came in to the world to save and transform fallen creation
- the fulfillment and perfection of God's revelation to mankind
- both God and man, the eternal Son of God who, while retaining His divinity, took on our human nature in order to make us holy.
9. The 2nd coming of Christ?
In the Creed, we proclaim that Jesus Christ "will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead..."
"He will save those who are eagerly waiting for Him" (Hebrews 9:28).
At His Second Coming, the good and the evil alike will be raised from the dead and judged by Christ: "...those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgement" (John 5:29)
When will Christ come again?
Jesus never revealed the time of His Second Coming to us. He taught us, rather, to be vigilant and in a constant state of readiness. By faith we know that Christ's Second Coming, and our own resurrection, are certainties.
10. What do Orthodox Christians believe about the afterlife, heaven and hell?
Orthodox Christians affirm the existence of an afterlife which divided into states before and after the Resurrection and Final Judgment. Before this final judgment the departed go either to hades, the abode of the dead, or to paradise where they have life in Christ.
Prayers for the departed are an essential part of the liturgical life of Orthodox Christians and it is believed that these prayers can aid in the redemption of the departed even after their mortal deaths.
Because Orthodox perspectives on the afterlife differ so radically from popular conceptions of heaven and hell it may be unhelpful to even rely on these terms.
Orthodox Christians believe that, along with the Resurrection, God will usher in a renewed creation, a New Jerusalem ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ.
According to one popular perspective shared by some of the Church Fathers, heaven and hell are seen more as conditions of the person in relation to God rather than mere physical locations. For those who love God, heaven is experienced as God’s loving presence. God is their ultimate desire and, consequently, their reward as well. Since, for most of us, our love for God is far from perfect, His Love for us allows us to increasingly find our joy in Him.
For those who place themselves in opposition to God, hell or damnation is likewise existence in His loving presence but, according to Saint Isaac of Syria, they "will be chastised with the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart which has sinned against love is more piercing that any other pain.” Damnation is not the deprivation of the love or presence of God but rather the torment of His loving presence which is unwanted, rejected and despised.
It is important to emphasize that the Criterion Upon which Christ will Judge us is LOVE and He “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Thus one’s damnation is not God’s will, but results from the will of the one who experiences it.
Our capacity to love others is based on our acceptance of God's love, for He is Love itself. Christ commanded us to love God above all else and to share God's love with others. Upon this we will be judged.
God's all consuming love can then be said to act in two ways. It is the fulfillment and joy of the blessed as well as the torment of the wicked.
11. How can I learn more about the Orthodox Christian faith?
- The best way to learn about the Orthodox Christian faith is to come and see! Attend some of our services and introduce yourself to our priest who can direct you to additional resources.
- At certain points during the year, the parish hosts classes for those discerning or preparing for reception into the Orthodox Church that are called catechism. There are also “Wednesday School” classes for individuals who are interested in learning more about Orthodox Christianity.
- There are many books, websites and other media that hold a wealth of information on Orthodox Christianity. To see just a few of these resources, please visit our Web Resources page.