It happens all the time. “Father, I saw there was church last night. What holiday was it?” Sometimes there was no holiday at all, but there were services in the Cathedral. I understand this can be confusing, so this week, I will answer the question, “Why does the Church have so many services?”
Ever since God commanded Moses to build the Temple, the House of God has been at the center of life for the People of God. The priests of the Temple, following God’s guidance, established a way of prayer and worship in the Temple where people could encounter God. From that moment, the Temple maintained a daily service schedule. We even read about it in the New Testament.
“Now Peter and John went up together to the Temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” (Acts 3.1)
The father of John the Baptist, Zacharias, was serving in appointed service in the Temple when he was visited by the angel. “So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. (Luke 1.8-10)
The first Christians were in the Temple daily as we read in Acts. “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2.46-47)
It is clear the Temple was a house of prayer, at all times, not just holidays. Throughout our Orthodox Christian history, our Churches have been houses of prayer not just for holidays, but every day. Still today in Greece, many churches have daily services scheduled for the people to come and worship God together as a family.
Unfortunately in America, we have lost the tradition of daily services in the Church, except during Holy Week. We have lost the tradition of coming to Church during the week, just because, to pray together as a family. Part of the reason is because so many live so far away from the Church.
Thankfully that is not a problem in Tarpon Springs. We have a unique blessing with a full time chanter, and most of us living just a few minutes from the Cathedral, we can return to the tradition of daily services in the Church for people to come together as family and pray to God. From now on, every night except Sunday, there will be a church service in the Cathedral at 6pm. It isn’t a holiday. It’s just Church.