Refreshers in Church Etiquette: Commencement and Conclusion of Services

Commencement


The time to arrive at the St John of the Ladder for any sacred service is before the service is scheduled to begin. In other words, ideally one will have arrived, venerated icons, lit candles, et. al., before the service begins. On Sunday mornings, it is absolutely vital for faithful Orthodox Christians to be present from the beginning of the Divine Liturgy at 9:30 am in order to be prayerfully prepared to hear the Word of the Lord proclaimed in the Epistle and Gospel readings, and thus sufficiently ready to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. In other words, please refrain from participating in the eucharist (even if otherwise prepared) if you have not been present for the Epistle and Gospel at that service.  Also, it is an absolutely important expression of our faith that we punctually and consistently attend the services of the Church. Such faithful action not only nourishes our own soul, but sends an important message to our children, guests and inquirers alike.  If for any reason you are late, use your discretion, but it is best to quietly enter and take one's place without calling attention to yourself by venerating the icons and lighting candles. This is all the more important in our presently crowded nave on Sunday mornings.


Conclusion of Services


The impulse to leave the church and/or ‘step out early’ during the course of a service is wrong. Every service of the Orthodox Church is full of meaning and spiritual nourishment from beginning until end. Just as coming late to a service of the Church is disruptive, so too is the act of leaving a service before its conclusion disturbing to the worship of the Church. Out of respect and love for God and His Church, members of the St John of the Ladder must strive not to arrive late or leave early. In all things one should out of charity consider the impact of his or her actions on the reverent and worshipful  atmosphere we want to safeguard during worship, and indeed at all times when we are in the Nave of the church.


Let me know if you have any particular questions!
Fr Marcus