The Orthodox Christian faith emerges from the Incarnation and earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, the immortal Son and Word of God, who became human in order to save humanity from the destruction of sin and death. It is historically based in the ministry of the apostles of Jesus Christ, who after Pentecost, were charged with bringing the saving message of Jesus to the world. Through the witness of Holy Scripture and the living tradition of the Church, the Orthodox Christian faith has remained a dynamic vessel of this saving message for two millennia.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity is oriented toward accomplishing a singular goal. It is a faith that brings the whole human being, body, mind, and soul, into communion with the Creator, the Giver of Life, the Source of all things, God the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This communion, or relationship with God, is first and foremost a relationship of love, unconditional, unrelenting, and freely offered from Creator to created.
In practical, everyday ways, the Orthodox Christian Church provides a rhythmic cycle of daily, weekly, and seasonal sacramental worship that is geared toward reaching all human senses, both physical and spiritual. Worship life reaches out to the human sense of hearing through rich theological and narrative-oriented prayers, chanted in the sweetly haunting Byzantine style. It reaches out to the eyes through the use of vivid iconographic images of the Lord Jesus, His mother (the Theotokos or God-bearer), His disciples, and many of the saints and prophets who are part of Judeo-Christian history. Worship reaches out to the human sense of smell via the use of various kinds of incense, rising up like prayers in the midst of the congregation. Worship reaches out to the sense of taste through the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the feast of love, in which sweet wine and bread are transformed into the body and blood of the Lord. And finally, worship reaches out to the sense of touch, through the use of prayer ropes and the kiss of peace offered to one another during the Divine Liturgy. The human being, in order to experience God's love, is created in a way which guides one toward answering two fundamental questions: Who (Whose) am I? and How do I deal with suffering?
The 2,000-year-old wisdom of the Eastern Orthodox Church directs human persons toward a number of different relationships, experiences, and images that are intended to bring to life very personal answers to these powerful questions. In the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, there is no cookiecutter approach to issues of identity, relationship, and healing. At the same time, ancient and practical wisdom offered by the Church highlights the necessity for loving relationships, sacramental worship, and Scriptural narratives and images as signposts for the human soul in search of its home, God's Kingdom, and heart.
WHO (WHOSE) AM I?
Orthodox Christianity insists that human beings are the creation of a loving God, created in the very image and likeness of God Himself. In the simplest terms, this means that human beings have been endowed with the power of living flesh and spirit, heart, and mind. The very purpose of our existence is to experience God's love by relating to Him and to other human beings through our unique gifts and personhood. We then are called to offer these imperfect gifts back to God (the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist) and direct them to a broken world in need of creativity and healing. Made in the image of the Creator and Life-giver, human beings are called to lovingly create and relate.
The theological belief that God exists as a Trinity of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is hardly a piece of abstract dogmatism or metaphysical theorizing for Orthodox Christians.