Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (AD 1958)
Grand Junction, Colorado

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AD 73)
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (AD 1922)
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver (AD 1979)

METROPOLIS OF DENVER
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Orthodox Christianity on the Western Slope of Colorado!
Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church
3585 North 12th Street
Grand Junction, Colorado 81506
Presiding Priest:
Reverend Protopresbyter Luke Uhl
fr.luke@denver.goarch.org
Parish phone: 970-242-9590
Sunday Morning Services
Matins 8:45 am • Divine Liturgy 10:00 am
click here for map...

The Apostolic Origin
of Orthodox Liturgical Services

The liturgical services of the Orthodox Christian Church are ancient. They derived initially from the practices of Jewish Temple and Synagogue services, and were well developed in their present form during the Apostolic Age.

From the 1st three centuries mainly scattered fragments of the liturgical services have survived into the present age. This was, obviously, because of the difficult circumstances endured by Christians during that era, and the frequent persecution of the faithful and destruction of their churches and liturgical resources.

Those few fragments that have survived are completely consistent with both the order of worship as well as the phraseology of prayers and hymns from the 4th century onward.

Plentiful and thorough documentation of liturgical services exists from the 4th century, when Christianity became both legalized and normative in the Roman Empire, through the present age.

Logically, the worship practices of the 4th century were simply a continuation of what existed previously, as the fragmentary documentation from the earlier centuries attests.

Without doubt, present-day Orthodox worship is essentially and substantially the same as it has always been since the apostolic era.

The liturgical service books found being used in an Orthodox monastery, cathedral, or parish church today are nearly identical with those compiled (not composed) by Saint John of Damascus (AD 676–749) at the Mar Saba (Saint Savas) monastery near Jerusalem.


Saint John of Damascus
There have been only two significant “changes” to these service books since the eighth century. The first, obviously, is the addition of hymns appropriate to saints who have lived since that time. The second, significantly, is the translation of these service books into the vernacular (the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region), especially into Church Slavonic in the ninth century and since the mid-twentietth century into English and other contemporary languages.

The typical (characteristic) or canonical (official) texts of the Divine Services are those that have been traditional (faithfully transmitted or handed down) in the Greek language within the Church.

It should be noted that these services of the Orthodox Church are the foundation of Roman Catholic and Protestant worship. This is obvious, since the Roman Catholic Church did not become a separate, identifiable entity from the rest of Christendom until after the eleventh century and, likewise, since the Protestant denominations directly evolved from the Roman Church in the sixteenth century.

Thus, a Roman Catholic or Protestant Christian attending liturgical services in an Orthodox Church is witnessing the faithful and living continuation of their own historical worship tradition.

The Consistent Character
of Orthodox Liturgical Services

Worship services celebrated in the Orthodox Church are ancient. They evolved simply and logically from Old Testament Temple and synagogue traditions, services, and customs.

Above all else, Orthodox Christian worship is an active participation in, and personal experience of, the perfect communion between God and man that is the essence of our eternal existence in the Kingdom of heaven.

Preeminently, the Divine Liturgy, the Mystery (or “Sacrament”) of the Holy Eucharist, is our regular, corporate participation in that eternal reality. The Divine Liturgy is the continuation of the “Mystical Supper” (referred to in Western Christendom as the “Last Supper”), the first earthly participation in that communion.

The liturgical (worship service) texts, prayers, and rubrics we use today are identical to those that were common usage in the universal, undivided Christian Church of the first millennium.

During those first thousand years there was only one “catholic” (universal) and “orthodox” (right-worshipping) Christian Church, which stretched from Western to Eastern Europe, throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as into the Middle East, Arabia, Persia, Asia Minor and Central Asia

There is much archaeological evidence, consisting of many written fragments clearly showing that the shape of our worship was established in the first-century Apostolic era and into the second and third centuries. Well-preserved manuscripts show how these services were eventually compiled (not composed) between the fourth and seventh centuries into the familiar service books we still use today.

These services have been preserved and “handed down” (“tradition”) in their original New Testament (“Koiné”) Greek language.

The only significant change to the Orthodox services from the first millennium of Christianity is that the services were translated in the ninth century from Koiné Greek into Slavonic for Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodios. Just as 2,000-year old Koiné Greek is still used in Greek churches, 1,000-year old Church Slavonic is still used in Russian, Serbian, and Bulgarian churches.
In addition, the first-millennium services were likewise translated beginning in the mid-twentieth century from Koiné Greek into English for use in our parishes today. These are the worship services you may experience at Saint Nicholas parish today.

In the “Western” (or Latin) churches (viz., the Roman Catholic Church and her Protestant denominations), however, worship practices and beliefs radically changed during the second millennium, and continue to evolve. As a consequence, Western Christians may be unfamiliar with Eastern Orthodox worship and our liturgical terminology.

This web page is therefore provided to provide easy access to texts of the services, as well as to explanations of Orthodox worship and terminology.

Email: fr.luke@denver.goarch.org
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