From Michael Ruse:
Hubert Bays will present Chapter 1 in Part Two. Metropolitan Hilarion starts this topic with the section on The Mystical Supper because Christ fulfilled the Eucharist and He is the paschal meal. From there, we understand that Christ commanded his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” and no longer in remembrance of only Egypt. How do we remember Christ? “The Eucharist itself” is the focal point. Metropolitan Hilarion explains the celebration of the Eucharist in the next section, The Eucharist in the Early Church. The Apostolic community also worshipped by reading or singing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs as St. Paul says. Liturgical rituals were written as early as the 2ndcentury AD. These are outlined in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which give witness to the same elements and beliefs of worship as today’s Orthodox Church.
Although the Eucharistic communities had a ritual and liturgical character, some of the earliest Christian communities had space for improvisation and much local variety. The uniformity we might see today had developed over time and between different centers of Christianity in Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. There is a place of importance for precise definitions of theology called horoi (literally boundaries in Greek) that flourished in Constantinople among the Greek Fathers. In the Semitic traditions, they understood worship and theology as more about “praising God in prayer” and in spiritual poetry, as St. Ephraim the Syrian has shown in many of his widespread compositions. His poetry influenced later Byzantine hymnographers who borrowed from his model such as St. Romanos the Melodist, and his poetry formed worship in Byzantium.
Other sections include The Eucharist of the Early Byzantine Period that begins with the Edict of Milan promulgated by Emperor Constantine in 313 AD. Metropolitan Hilarion discusses the Liturgies of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom as well as the ancient Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem used in the Christian East today. The Non-Eucharistic Services of the Daily Cycle covers material about praying the hours at certain times of the day. The Growth of Christian Hymnography explains how the Syrian tradition influenced Greek and Byzantine hymn-writing traditions, which links St. Romanos the Melodist and St. Andrew of Crete to St. Ephraim the Syrian. The last two sections are Worship in Constantinople and The Monastic Character of Orthodox Worship.
Join us after the Ninth Hour this Saturday at 4:00 pm to learn about some very ancient practices of prayer, worship, and poetry.