The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is today the primary worship service of over 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world, from Greece to Finland, from Russia to Tanzania, from Japan to Kenya, Bulgaria to Australia. It is celebrated in dozens of languages, from the original Greek it was written in to English and French, Slavonic and Swahili, Korean and Arabic.
What does the word Liturgy mean? Liturgy is a Greek word that in classical times referred to the performance of a public duty; in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament made some 300 years before the coming of Christ that was used by the authors of the New Testament, it referred to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem; and for Orthodox Christians it has come to mean the public worship of the Church. Because Liturgy is always a corporate, communal action, it is often translated as “the work of the people” and because it is prefaced by the word “Divine” it is specifically the work of God’s people and an experience of God’s coming Kingdom here and now by those who gather to worship Him as members of the “royal priesthood…a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9).
The Divine Liturgy is also called the Eucharist, the ancient Greek word for “thanksgiving” or “gratitude.” The Christian Eucharist is a meal specifically connected with the Passover meal of the Old Testament commemorating the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt as told in the Book of Exodus. At the Last Supper with His disciples, Christ transformed this ancient Passover ritual into an act done in remembrance of Him: His life, teaching, death and resurrection. He is the new and eternal Passover lamb whose sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead frees all of humanity from slavery to sin, evil and death and opens the path to forgiveness and liberation from sin, freedom from death, eternal life and the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Eucharist is an expression of gratitude to God for the gifts of His Son and Spirit, our redemption and freedom.
The text of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, including commentary from our own Father Steven Tsichlis, can be found HERE.