Over the past several months, I’ve been struck time and again by one prayer during the Divine Liturgy. It’s a prayer prayed by the priest. It’s intended to be spoken softly. It falls at the beginning of the Anaphora, and I suspect that it is easy to overlook. But of late, I’ve found myself hearing it time and again. The prayer becomes clearer and clearer each time that I hear it. (All added emphasis is mine.)
It is proper and just to sing to You, bless You, praise You, thank You and worship You in every place of Your dominion; for You are God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and ever the same; You and Your only begotten Son and Your all Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we fell, You raised us up again. You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come. For all these things we thank You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit; for all things that we know and do not know, for the manifest and hidden blessings that have been poured out upon us. We also thank You for this liturgy which You are pleased to accept from our hands, even though there stand before You thousands of Archangels and tens of thousands of Angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, soaring with their wings…
For You are GOD…as I prayed through Liturgy one day, I just found my mind hooking onto that phrase. This is God who has brought us to this Liturgy, to this Altar. We are here to worship Him. And what kind of a God is this whom we worship? A God who is invisible and incomprehensible. We can’t see him. We can’t fathom the depths of His very Being. He’s ever-existing and ever the same. He is boundless, eternal, and changeless-all claims that no mortal could ever make. You and Your Only-Begotten Son and Your All-Holy Spirit: We worship the Trinity, one in essence. We are drawn to this Altar, to this Supper by that God.
And what has this God done for us? He called us out of nothingness into being. He didn’t need us. He chose to make us. He chose to want us. When we had fallen, He raised us up. Heck, He created us knowing that we could fall. He called us into existence at a total risk to himself. And then he kept going-the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Church, and the promise of the Kingdom to Come. He has done so much for us out of an absolute love for us.
And what is our response? Boredom, frustration, anger, and so on; we humans too often ignore and neglect these amazing gifts. We have so many blessings manifest and hidden, as the prayer says, and we choose to overlook them in favor of our own desires or our own emotions.
But what is God’s response to our rejection? He continually seeks after us. He continually loves us. He pours out His love upon us so richly, and we ignore it. But He continues to love us. He continues to seek us. We may forget that He is God, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and ever the same. But He will not forget us. He will not abandon us.
We must return to Him from wherever we choose to wander. We must give Him right worship for all that He has done for us both manifest and hidden. For He is God. He is inconceivable, incomprehensible, ever-existing, and ever the same. He is also the Lover of our souls, and the One who desires and deserves nothing but the sacrifice of our humbled, contrite hearts in His service.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.
-John 14: 18-20