In a conversation I was having with my wife yesterday, she was reflecting on the funeral of a dear friend we attended recently, especially how, surrounding the funeral services, the love people showed each other and the bereaved was so deep and palpable (she didn’t use that kind of language, but that’s my “translation”!).
And then she said this: “It’s like everyone was a saint there.”
That stuck in my mind, and I was reminded of the sense that we have in the Orthodox Church, perhaps not emphasized enough, that we are who we are meant to be—our true selves—in worship. And of course that spills over to what surrounds worship.
If you ever really throw yourself into Orthodox worship and immerse yourself in its power, you will see what I mean here. I often feel myself to be most at peace, most simply myself when I am standing at the altar. There, I can be Andrew and don’t have to bother with any pretense, with what anyone thinks of me, with what I would rather be doing. I can somehow be a saint for a few minutes.
Not that I am a saint in the usual sense, of course. I know well that I am not. But we all get to be one in worship, just for a little while.
In worship we get a taste of our destiny as God’s sons and daughters, as His nation of priests. We are indeed all saints inasmuch as we participate in the Kingdom. And we are ourselves. We are homo adorans, worshiping man.
We often say that the Kingdom of Heaven will essentially be an unending worship service. And that makes people like me happy, but I think the people for whom church is already “too long,” upon hearing that, might wonder if perhaps The Other Place might be more enjoyable. But of course all the things that might annoy us about worship as it is conducted in this life will no longer annoy us in the next. We will finally see it for what it is.
And we will finally be who we are meant to be.