Greek Orthodox Church Observation

Last weekend I visited the local Greek Orthodox church, St. Demetrios, and attended a divine liturgy. I was definitely nervous to go into a situation I didn’t know everything about, but through various readings and other knowledge I felt able to enter the church without feeling too much like an outsider. My primary reason for visiting was to look at the iconography inside the church, which is beautifully done. The church had all their iconography done in the Greek style (basically what you would think of if you thought of Byzantine art) even though their congregation is made up of Greek, Russian, and other Orthodox members. They actually hired an iconographer from Greece to come do them, so the iconography is not completed as they still need the funds for some of it. My friend who attends the church showed me the major elements that are the most important to have and thus were completed first.

Even though the service was mostly in Greek, it was still fascinating to listen and watch as the priest blessed the iconostasis (the partition between the congregation and the holiest of holies) and the Eucharist. There is a certain amount of reverence exuded by everyone in the church that allowed me to recognize what was important in the service even without being able to understand the words they were saying. I think that it was a really huge jump from the museums I have been observing, especially since everyone there came with the intention of having a holy experience. This intentionality directs all power into the icons and the sacred presence, giving agency to those things which people come to worship.