A palpable shift occurs in the service after the Liturgy of the Word is completed. As we ascend toward the Eucharist in the Liturgy of the Faithful, the choir begins a new song, and the pace of our journey slows.
Our liturgical journey in the Orthodox Faith is much like a trek up Grays and Torreys Peaks. Hikers who hope to scale all of the “fourteeners” (mountains that are at least 14,000 feet above sea level) in the Rocky Mountains often begin here, because these two Colorado peaks are connected by a saddle of land. Torreys Peak is an integral part of this hike, but it is not the highest point. Grays is the true summit.
Just as Torreys is not the high point of this hike, the Bible—its reading and proclamation—is not the central point of the Divine Liturgy. We prepare ourselves for the reading of the scriptures, and those scriptures serve as preparation for the journey to the pinnacle—receiving Christ’s Body and Blood in the bread and wine of the Eucharist.
The midnight Pascha service ends, and the joyful but tired parishioners break out platters and crockpots for a parish feast featuring meats, cheeses, wines, homemade beers, and perhaps a bit of traditional dancing to bouzouki music in Greek parishes. We arrive home, exhausted, at 3 a.m. and collapse into bed.
Christ is risen! Christos anesti! Christos voskrese! al-Masih qam!