The heart and core of this Tradition is the collection of writings known as Holy Scripture, including the Old and New Testaments. Along with the written records, there are many unwritten Traditions handed down from the Apostles including the essentials of the Divine Liturgy, the structure of the Church, and forms of prayer. Many later Church Fathers also left us vital records of interpretation, theology, and spirituality. Various Synods or Councils of the Church interpreted these documents and made declarations concerning what is and is not authentic Christian belief and practice. Among these declarations is the Nicene Creed, formulated over the course of nearly a century, and finished by the Second Great Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (modern Istanbul) in A.D. 381. The Creed, which you hear during the Divine Liturgy, is a brief, authoritative summary of the saving truths of Christianity, a guide for understanding the Bible, the standard for the spiritual life of the faithful, and the criterion for all true Christianity. We would even assert that those who cannot confess this universal Creed are not a part of Christ’s Holy Church.
The Orthodox Church believes that God is beyond all comprehension, but that He revealed Himself as fully as possible in Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father and God Himself, through the Holy Spirit, as a “Trinity,” one in nature and yet three persons. The events of Jesus’ preexistent nature, the pre-announcement of His birth, life, miracles, teachings, death, physical resurrection from the dead, ascension in glory to the throne of His Father, and promised second coming in glory have been and will be actual events. The Apostles were trustworthy and faithful witnesses of these words and events. Yet, we emphasize that these events are Mysteries. God and all that He has done to deliver us from sin’s corruption are available to us and yet they are beyond our limited explanations.
The Church celebrates these saving events every day and especially every Sunday when during the Divine Liturgy we celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death through His resurrection, especially in Holy Communion as we “re-present” ourselves at the one, final, eternal and finished sacrifice of Christ. We believe that by faith in Christ, we can participate in His victory over sin. God now graciously offers us the gift of new life through His Son. This new life of victory begins now as we are joined to Him and to His Church and cleansed from sin by the gifts of Holy Baptism and Confirmation. It continues as we repent of our sins and are delivered from the power of sin and as we are united with Him in the Mystery of Holy Communion. It continues as we become more and more conformed to our Lord Jesus Christ, and as we look forward to our own resurrection from the dead and to eternal life with our loving Lord in His Kingdom.
With roughly 250 million members worldwide, Orthodoxy is second in size only to the Roman Catholic Church. However, in spite of its size, relatively few Americans are aware that it exists.
The Orthodox Church has deep and lasting roots in Christian antiquity and is steeped in rich Biblical tradition. It has been the context of Christian living for millions of Christians for almost twenty centuries. Our own Patriarchate of Constantinople, one of the most ancient of Orthodox churches, was originally founded in A.D. 38 by Saint Andrew, the “first called among the Apostles”.
One cannot understand the Orthodox Church merely by reading about it. Just as reading a biography about someone is no substitute for knowing the biography’s subject personally, Orthodox Christianity must be experienced firsthand to be understood. If you are in the Loudoun County area or anywhere in the greater Washington D.C. region, we welcome and invite you to come worship with us, to “come, taste and see” (Psalm 34:8).