A key part of the Divine Liturgy is the Sermon, which from Apostolic times has been an established part of the Service. The Lord Himself used to speak to the people who were gathered in the Synagogue after reading passages from the Old Testament. St. Luke the Evangelist describes the first sermon of Jesus in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-27). The Holy Apostles also preached during the Eucharistic Meetings of the faithful. A common example of this can be seen in the Acts of the Apostles, when St. Paul preached in Troas until midnight, and the young Eutychus fell from the third story, after having fallen asleep (see Acts 20:7-11). There are Holy Canons which decree that Bishops and Priests (who are presiding over worship) are to teach the word of God to the clergy and people gathered in the churches every day (especially on Sundays). The 68th Apostolic Canon decrees: "Any Bishop or Priest who does not take care of his clergy, and all the rest of the people, and does not teach them the doctrines and works of piety, let him be deposed until he is corrected. But if he persists in his negligence and indifference let him be completely defrocked, for he has proven to be unworthy as a Bishop and Elder-Priest".

The first Part of the Divine Liturgy, (known as "The Liturgy of the Word") reaches its climax in the hearing of the Word of God. As we know, the Lord Himself not only spoke to people directly, but also sent His Disciples to the surrounding towns and villages to preach His word. Similarly in the Divine Liturgy, the Reader first reads a passage from one of the Apostolic Epistles in the New Testament, and then the Deacon or Priest reads a passage from the four Holy Gospels. It is through this Gospel reading that Christ Himself speaks to us, so we must listen to Him carefully, and not in a passive way. We must also try to keep these words of Christ in our hearts, and conform our lives to them. The Church strives to help its children clear their minds of all outside things, and focus the people on the word of God, which will soon be read. Before the Epistle reading, the Deacon declares to all: “Let us be attentive!” and then comes a second exhortation: “Wisdom!” and another “Let us be attentive.” Before the reading of the Holy Gospel, similar and even more fervent calls to the people are made: "Wisdom. Arise. Let us hear the Holy Gospel. Peace be with all”. Additionally, the priest has a special Prayer which is offered before the reading of the Holy Gospel. It asks the benevolent Lord to give us the pure and radiant light of the knowledge of God, for our spiritual eyes to be open, and for our mind to be able to understand its meaning. It asks that our hearts be planted with a deep respect for His commands, so that we can conquer the carnal passions, and to think and do what pleases our Lord.

When Christ, in the form of the Gospel, is placed on the Holy Table after the Small Entrance, the atmosphere of the Divine Liturgy becomes festive. While recalling the great work of salvation which was acheived with the coming of God the Word, Jesus Christ, as well as the preaching of the Gospel, we chant the hymns of the day with joyful enthusiasm. If it is Sunday, the hymns refer to the Resurrection of Christ, and on other days, we chant the established hymns for that particular time. The Troparia of the Saint that is celebrated that day, as well for the patron Saint of the church building are also chanted. Lastly, the Kontakion as provided by the Typikon. All these sacred hymns (which are sung at the Entrance with the Holy Gospel) are hymns of thanksgiving and praise for the blessings that the Holy Gospel brings. It is easy to understand why this is important, when we remember that the teachings of the Holy Gospel has filled the world with Saints. These are people like us, who have applied the teachings of the Gospel in their lives, and by the Grace of the Lord have become Saints and intercessors for us. The revelation of these Saints, true heroes who lived by the Gospel, are surrounded by glory and honor in this life, and in eternity.

In every Divine Liturgy, following the Antiphons, the Holy Gospel makes its way from the Holy Table (where it is found at all times), and is carried through the center of the Church, being then returned to its place. The Holy Gospel symbolizes our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and is displayed in procession, passing through the faithful in a holy entrance on its way to the Sacred Altar once more.

After the “Litany of Peace” in the Divine Liturgy, there are three “Antiphons” which are sung. These are selections from the Psalms, to which are added the Beatitudes of the Lord. The Typikon defines precisely which Psalms and verses will be sung, so that their content is in some way related to what the Church is commemorating that day. The most commonly used are the two doxological Psalms 103 [102 LXX]: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name…" and Psalm 146 [145 LXX]: "Praise the Lord, O my soul. While I live I will praise the Lord: I will sing praises to my God while I have my being...". They are called Antiphons, because the verses are traditionally sung one after another by two choirs. The faithful are also encouraged to participate and sing these Psalms in low voices. The Typikon establishes which verses are added at the end according to the day: "Through the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us" in the first Antiphon and "Save us O Son of God…" in the second.


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