Last Sunday Leah and I went with our friend JD to his church… which is Greek Orthodox. JD grew up Pentecostal and converted to the Eastern Orthodox church while he was in seminary.
The service was definitely different. I will probably write more on those differences at another point, but it is safe to say that it was a completely different experience than I have ever had. Fortunately JD provided us with some friends to sit with (he was helping in the service) that could explain everything to us. A woman named Sia (which is short for Anastasia) walked us through the liturgy, helped us follow along with the constant bouncing between Greek and English, and told us when we were and were not allowed to participate.
The main thing that we were not allowed to do in the Orthodox worship service was participate in Holy Communion. This was definitely different for me. Since I grew up Methodist I have always heard pastors say “In the Methodist church we practice what is called ‘open communion’ which means that all believers in Christ are allowed to take part.” Even though I have always heard pastors say that, I have never been in a service where I was not allowed to take communion.
While observing the ritual of the remembrance of the Last Supper I noticed something cool that I really liked. Right before the people came down to take the bread and wine the priest turned to the congregants and said “Brothers, if I have sinned against any of you please forgive me.” What he was doing there was making sure that he did not have an unsettled conflict with someone in the church body before he approached the Lord’s table for communion.
The Orthodox tradition (and I’m sure many other traditional denominations) has forgiveness built in to the worship service! That is definitely something that Evangelicals could really benefit from recovering in their worship practices. Make sure that your hands are clean before you come to the table of reconciliation.
Anyway… just sharing that. I thought it was interesting.