10:00 a.m. 38 Purcell’s Cove Road, Halifax
Guide for Guests: Divine Liturgy begins slightly after 10am, preceded by Matins at 8:50am. As you enter the church narthex, there are candles to be purchased and lighted if you wish to offer a prayer. Dress appropriately; head coverings are not required. Ushers will advise guests where to sit. Follow the example of others by standing, sitting, or kneeling. The congregation stands often during the service, but remaining seated is permissible if necessary. Do not partake of Holy Communion; however, the sacred bread will be offered to guests and others by the priest at the end of the Liturgy. Incense is burned during the liturgy. Photography is permitted only after the service. A fellowship hour follows. Copies of the Liturgy in Greek and English are available.
Notes on the Church and Service
Orthodox worship is unlike worship in any other Christian tradition. The purpose of worship and theology is mystical union with God. The liturgy is not a private performance by a priest, since he cannot perform the liturgy alone, but a joint act of laity and clergy. All of the senses are engaged: the paintings on the walls, icons, candles, priestly vestments, incense, songs and chanting, the taking of bread and wine, kneeling, kissing the icons, making the sign of the cross, etc. Worship brings the worshiper into the presence of God and celebrates the mystery of God’s love. Much of the singing is by two small antiphonal choirs or chanted by the priest. The congregation sings some of the responses and prayers.
The liturgy helps worshipers reflect on two almost opposite ideals of faith: how completely different and “other” God is from us and, at the same time, how close and personal God is in the person of Jesus Christ. This is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith.
In the Sanctuary behind the icon screen at the front is the altar. In front of crucifix above the altar hangs an eternal light which testifies to Christ as the light of the world. Behind the altar are two circular sculptures on which are engraved six-winged angels that represent the angels that surround the throne of God. Along with the tabernacle on the altar, which holds the elements of communion, that is the body and blood of Christ, is a gold-covered gospel book. Only the priests and other ordained clergy are allowed in the sanctuary.
The screen at the front holds several icons. This screen, known as the iconostasis, separates the worshipers from the Sanctuary. Two large chandelier-like stands are placed in front of the icon screen. You will observe that before the service, worshipers approach the screen, honour the saints in the icon by kneeling, kissing them, and crossing themselves. The two gold doors in the middle of the screen are the royal doors. When the communion elements are carried from the altar to the people, Christ the King enters through these doors.