What to Expect at an Orthodox Church
Beauty and Symbols
Since the beginning of Christianity, the Church is a sacred space; set apart and holy from common places. Throughout history, the physical Church had the most beautiful architecture, design elements, color and light of any structure in a town or city. In that same tradition, at Christ the King Church, you’ll be surrounded by awe-inspiring beauty. You’ll also experience symbols of the faith that engage all the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch; all of which have been used in worship throughout the ages.
The Altar or Holy Table is at the heart of the Orthodox Church. Here, the Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine are offered to God the Father as Christ commanded us to do at the Last Supper (Luke 23:20). The depiction of trees and a river corresponds to the throne of God (Rev. 22). The Altar always faces East and is dressed in colors of the Church season. The Eucharist (the bread and wine) is set upon the Altar, together with candles to be used in the Divine Liturgy - the primary worship service of the church. Behind the Altar is a large cross of the crucified Christ. The Bishop also sits near the Altar, overseeing the priest and deacons who serve at the Altar.
Do you have images of family and loved ones in your house? The Church also has these. Icons are decorative, inspirational, and educational. More importantly, they signify the presence of that person in our worship. The icon is a window linking heaven and earth. When we worship we do so as part of the Church in heaven and on earth including the living and the departed. We never lose contact with those who are with the Lord. This belief is expressed every time someone shows great honor and respect (venerates) an icon or places a candle before it. It is important to note these icons are not worshipped in the Orthodox faith, but like our photos of loved ones at home, show our deep love and devotion to those pictured.
The Bishop, Priest and Deacons will be clothed in robes called vestments. These vestments help us visually recognize these men are in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ as He operates through them in ministry. Our church members wear everything from dresses and suits to casual clothes.
Feel free to come as you are!
At Christ the King Church we believe that Christianity is far more than following a set of rules or a simple belief statement. We believe Christianity is a LIFESTYLE of unconditional love and truth. Instead of church being a courtroom where punishment is handed out, we know the Church as a hospital where the sick - emotionally, spiritually, relationally, mentally, physically - encounter the great physician Jesus Christ as He heals us through His holy sacraments. There are seven holy sacraments: baptism, the Eucharist, confession of sins, receiving the Holy Spirit (Chrismation), marriage, holy orders, anointing the sick. Our faith is expressed through a purposeful procession throughout the year as we celebrate the events of the Christian calendar. We follow the holy tradition of the first church as stated in Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” Because of this, we are sacramental not Roman Catholic, evangelical not Protestant and spirit-filled not Pentecostal.
Who are We Associated With?
Christ the King Church is very unique in that we have our lineage of faith (aka Apostolic Succession) from two distinct groups - the Mexican National Catholic Church (Old Catholic, not Roman Catholic) and the Greek Orthodox Church. We are recognized by both. The reason we can seamlessly worship with both, is the fact that both worship in the faith of the Apostles. When we say “catholic and apostolic” we are following the original 12 apostles in how they worshipped, prayed, and engaged in the sacraments, known today as Orthodoxy. It was this “format” that allowed the early church to be totally whole and undivided in the first one thousand years of Christianity. For that reason, it is something to be lived out and celebrated. At Christ the King Church, we embrace the Apostolic teachings of the New Testament, three creeds and the seven ecumenical councils of the undivided Church. The MNCC supports clerical marriage, liturgy in the language of the people, the Sacrament of Communion where all receive both the Body and Blood of Christ, Biblical interpretation through the Church Fathers, great respect and honor (veneration) of the Saints and Mary the Mother of Jesus. We believe the Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.
Why does the Orthodox cross have three bars?
The bar across the top is the sign that hung above Jesus’ head which read, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. The lower slanted bar signifies the two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus. One thief ascended with Christ to heaven (pointing upward); the other thief descended to hell (pointing downward). This cross has always been a symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ and His crucifixion.