"To Thee is due all glory, honor, and worship, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen."
"Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." - Romans 15:7
+THE CHURCH + An Ancient Expression of the Christian Worship
The Ancient Expression of Christian Worship. Worship is reverent, humble adoration of God as practiced in the earliest churches. The word "worship" comes from the ancient Hebrew word that means "reverence" or to "humbly beseech." Ancient worship is unadulterated reverence like that described in the Bible by the Psalmists (e.g.,Psalm 5:7, 29:1-2, 45:11, 95:6, 96:9, 99:9, 138:2), by Jesus who taught us that those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and by the sacred traditions handed down to us through the centuries.
Worship includes enjoying God's presence and action in the midst of His people. Worship in Christ's invincible church is Spirit-filled, Gospel-focused, reverential adoration to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; worship that will not contradict or collide with Sacred Scripture. Worship is a deeply personal experience that also involves the entire Church. For Christians, worship is not a religious chore, but a privilege that is transformative, humbling, faith-building, and instructive in the ways of holiness. It is imperative then that Christians approach the Almighty in worship by casting off all personal, 21st Century assumptions of worship so that the Word of God and the ancient Biblically-based church practices may prevail in our hearts as we seek Him in Spirit and in truth.
“Oh marvelous gifts of Christ! On high the angelic choirs sing glory to the Lord; on earth, after their example, men sing in church the same canticle in choirs. In heaven the seraphim sing aloud their Thrice Holy; on earth the same canticle resounds from the mouth of the assembled congregation. Thus heaven and earth unite in a festive celebration; it is a hymnal celebration of Thanksgiving, of praise; it is a choir of common joy, which the unspeakable goodness of the Lord, in His great condescension to us, organized...” + St. John Chrysostom +
Worship in Psalm Singing
The Book of Psalms in our Bibles was God's inspired songbook for His old covenant people, Israel, and it served them for centuries in the worship to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These same holy Psalms (in the Septuagint) were then embraced by the first century churches who adopted them as their belovedcatalog of praise music! St. Paul understood the vital importance of Psalm singing and so he wrote these words to the church in Ephesus (5:18b-20): ". . . speak to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; . . ." and to the Gentile church in Colossae, this same Apostle wrote: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." The holy Apostles left the churches with a blessed, perpetual heritage of Psalm singing that continues long after their earthly ministries ended.
Here is a collection of important quotes from the early Church Fathers and theologians that prove Psalm singing was ALWAYS an integral part of Christ-centered worship in the one, Holy, Apostolic Church.
St. Jerome (348-420 AD) "In the cottage of Christ [the monastery] all is simple and rustic: and except for the chanting of psalms there is complete silence. Wherever one turns the laborer at his plow sings Alleluia, the toiling mower cheers himself with psalms, and the vine-dresser while he prunes his vine sings one of the songs of David." [Who was St. Jerome?]
St. John Chrysostom (349-407 AD) “Learn to sing psalms, and thou shalt see the delightfulness of the employment. For they who sing psalms are filled with the Holy Spirit, as they who sing satanic songs are filled with an unclean spirit.” – Homily XIX on Eph 5:15-17, NPNF1-13. “The grace of the Holy Ghost hath so ordered it, that the Psalms of David should be recited and sung night and day. In the Church’s vigils—in the morning—at funeral solemnities—the first, the midst, and the last is David. In private houses, where virgins spin—in the monasteries—in the deserts, where men converse with God—the first, the midst, and the last is David. In the night, when men sleep, he wakes them up to sing; and collecting the servants of God into angelic troops, turns earth into heaven, and of men makes angels, chanting David’s Psalms.” [Who was St. John Chrysostom?]
Commodianus (3rd century AD) “Ye are rejecting the law when ye wish to please the world. Ye dance in your houses; instead of psalms, ye sing love songs. Thou, although thou mayest be chaste, dost not prove thyself so by following evil things.” – The Instructions of Commodianus in Favor of Christian Discipline. [Who was Commidianus?]
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) “The Donatists reproach us with our grave chanting of the divine songs of the prophets in our churches, while they inflame their passions in their revels by the singing of psalms of human composition.” – Letter to Januarius, NPNF01-1 “. . . What testimonies do I bring forward? That of the Psalter. I bring forward what you sing as one deaf: open your ears; you sing this; you sing with me, and you agree not with me; your tongue sounds what mine does, and yet your heart disagrees with mine. Do you not sing this?” – Exposition of Psalm 96 [encouraging the congregation to understand that the psalms they sing point to the reign of Christ over the church]. [Who was St. Augustine?]
St. Athanasius (296-373 AD)“…each one sings the Psalms as though they had been written for his special benefit, and takes them and recites them, not as though someone else were speaking or another person’s feelings being described, but as himself speaking of himself, offering the words to God as his own heart’s utterance, just as though he himself had made them up. Not as the words of the patriarchs or of Moses and the other prophets will he reverence these: no, he is bold to take them as his own and written for his very self. Whether he has kept the Law or whether he has broken it, it is his own doings that the Psalms describe; everyone is bound to find his very self in them and, be he faithful soul or be he sinner, each reads in them descriptions of himself.” – Letter to Marcellinus. [Who was St. Athanasius?]
Tertullian (155-220 AD)“Perpetua sang psalms, already treading under foot the head of the Egyptian;” – The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, Schaff’s ANF03. “. . . Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit too…Between the two echo psalms and hymns; and they mutually challenge each other which shall better chant to their Lord. Such things when Christ sees and hears, He joys.” – Ad Uxorem, Book 2 ch.8 [encouraging husbands and wives to sing psalms to each other as a sign of Christian unity in marriage] Tertullian also mentions singing songs from the scripture as part of the Lord's Supper celebration. [Tertullian]
St. Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD) “Further, among the ancient Greeks, in their banquets over the brimming cups, a song was sung called askolion, after the manner of the Hebrew psalms, all together raising the pæan with the voice, and sometimes also taking turns in the song while they drank healths round; while those that were more musical than the rest sang to the lyre. But let amatory songs be banished far away, and let our songs be hymns to God. Let them praise, it is said, His name in the dance, and let them play to Him on the timbrel and psaltery. And what is the choir which plays? The Spirit will show you: Let His praise be in the congregation (church) of the saints; let them be joyful in their King. And again he adds, The Lord will take pleasure in His people. For temperate harmonies are to be admitted; but we are to banish as far as possible from our robust mind those liquid harmonies, which, through pernicious arts in the modulations of tones, train to effeminacy and scurrility.” – The Paedagogus, Book 2, ch.4 [Clement here exhorts fathers to led their families is “hymns to God” during feasts, explaining his meaning of this term by quotation from Psalm 149]. [Who was St. Clement of Alexandria]
St. Cyprian of Carthage (200–258 AD) “Let the temperate meal resound with psalms; and as your memory is tenacious and your voice musical, undertake this office, as is your wont. You will provide a better entertainment for your dearest friends, if, while we have something spiritual to listen to, the sweetness of religious music charm our ears.” – Epistle 1 (To Donatus), in ANF05 [Who was Cyprian?]
St. Basil the Great (330-379 AD) "The book of psalms uproots the passions with a certain melodic enjoyment and a delight that instills pure thoughts." [Who was St. Basil?]
St. Ephraim the Syrian (306-373 AD) "Just as the angels stand with great fear and chant their hymns to the Creator, likewise should we stand in psalmody." [Who was St. Ephraim?]
Worship in the Administration of the Sacraments
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two central sacraments mentioned in Scripture, given to the churches by the Lord Jesus. Sacraments are not "bare signs and empty symbols" as Swiss Reformer Huldrych Zwingli asserted, and they are much more than mere material reminders or memorials of Christ's death. Sacraments are sacred signs and seals of God's covenant of grace instituted by Him for our blessing now (by grace through faith) with a view of the Kingdom of God to come. The living experience of the Christian sacramental and liturgical life is the outworking of Biblical Christian truth. The Word of God is at the center of the Church’s life and the Divine Liturgy (acts of worship) and the Holy Eucharist (the sanctified bread of thanksgiving and the fruit of the vine) are living, didactic portraits of Christ in His Gospel. The Christian Eucharist is a ceremonial meal that emerged from the Passover Meal of the Old Testament. Jesus transformed the Passover repast into a sacred meal in remembrance of Him and of the deliverance He provides from the wages of sin and death. While sharing Holy Eucharist, we call to remembrance Christ's perfect, finished work for our redemption: His sinless life, immense sufferings, atoning death, and His glorious resurrection. in this respect, the Sacrament is indeed a "reminder." Much more than that though, in this sacrament we celebrate God the Son; the unseen Son of God ("Thine own of Thine Own") as our New Covenant Passover Lamb, Who delivered us from our captivity in sin and transferred us into the everlasting Kingdom of God. Second century theologian, Ignatius of Antioch, referred to the Eucharist as "the medicine of immortality" because he recognized the grace of God imparted through it. The Eucharist is the supreme means of theosis, since it is the sacrament through which people become the body of Christ, actualizing their union with the Head of the church.
According to the Scriptures, at the Last Supper before His crucifixion, Christ took the bread and the wine and He shared them with His disciples, telling them to eat and drink it as His own Body and Blood. Since that supper, this sacrament became the center of the Christian life as the experience of the real presence of the life-giving, risen Christ in the midst of his People (seeMatthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 6 and 13; Acts 2:41–47; 1 Cor 10–11). By eating the consecrated bread and drinking from the consecrated cup, we enjoy genuine communion with God through Christ who is Himself “. . . the bread of life” (John 6:26-51).
Worship in the Teaching of the Faith
THE CHURCH proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the church. An important part of Worship is the teaching of the Faith from the Sacred Writings and the New Testament. A close relationship exists between right teaching and sacred worship in the Church (1 Timothy 4:1-11). The Divinely inspired texts of Scripture teach us about God so that we may rightly worship Him "in Spirit and truth" (John 16:12-14; 1 John 4:5-6). The Scriptures also instruct us to hold fast to the faith and traditions taught to us by oral tradition and the Apostles' written letters (2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6). Living Faith is expressed in worship, and worship serves to strengthen and communicate living faith to God. For this reason, the prayers, Psalms, church doctrine, and liturgical ordinances are all didactic as they serve and edify us to the glory of God. Acts 2:40-43"And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles."
The Bible speaks of fellowship among God's people and the recurring word we find in the Biblical text is the Greek word "κοινωνία" (koinonia). Koinonia, often translated "fellowship" in many versions of the New Testament speaks of close relations between church friends where sincere, gracious dialogue and mutual concern are active and felt. Christian fellowship, or koinonia, is rooted in our union with Christ (1 John 1:6-7). At THE CHURCH, we are our brother's keepers and we strive to live as St. Paul instructed the church of Rome in Romans chapter 12; and to the Philippians, St. Paul wrote,
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any κοινωνία (fellowship) of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." (NKJV)
A House of Prayer
Mark 11:17 And he taught, saying unto them, "Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer. . ." + Jesus Christ our Lord
Proverbs 11:30 says, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." The Lord instructed His disciples go and make disciples of all the nations, and to baptize these new believers in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Once the Holy Spirit wins a soul to Christ with the Gospel, the church then must teach these new believers to seek Christ first in all things and to obey all the commands He's given to us (Romans 6:16-18; 2 Corinthians 2:9; Hebrews 5:9). Here at THE CHURCH, we seek opportunities to share Christ with a dying world and help them grow to maturity in the faith once delivered to the saints, i.e., Holy Orthodoxy.
+ "To Thee is due all glory, honor, and worship, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." +
DIVINE LITURGY Sunday at 11:00 AM THE CHURCH 34 East Main Street Port Jervis, New York, 12771