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In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

Today we’ll continue our look at the Holy Liturgy of our Church, and we’ll consider only one short phrase. As we begin the Liturgy, the priest lifts up the Holy Gospel and prays, “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages, Amen.” This begins the Liturgy for us in this place. Yet the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church tell us that the worship around the throne of God is never ceasing. The beginning of our Liturgy here in this place raises us up to join in that never-ending worship in the Heavenly Kingdom. The heavens don’t come down to worship with us – we are lifted up to the heavens to worship with the angels and the Saints and all of the people who are worshipping around the throne of Almighty God. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, as St. Paul says, because during the Liturgy we are present in the Kingdom of God. We enter the eternal now, where everything is present – we sing that Christ is born, or is Risen, or is come today (even the Second Coming is spoken of as present now). There is only one altar upon which worship to God is offered, and that is the altar in the Heavenly Kingdom. During the Holy Liturgy, the altar here in our Church becomes one with the Heavenly altar. We offer the same worship that every other parish and all of the angels and saints offer unto God. This is why the Liturgy is such a great work, such a great mystery, because we are joined with the heavens, we are present with God, and the grace of God is poured out abundantly on us as we’ve gathered together to worship.

As to the actual words the priest says, they set the tone for the remainder of our worship. “Blessed” – all of the Liturgy is about praise of God and thanksgiving to God. Worship is not centered on me and what I want and what I think I might need – worship is centered on God. We are here to bless and praise Him, to offer thanksgiving and to lift up our prayers. We give God the first place, we give Him all the space in our hearts and lives, and we worship Him. “Blessed is the Kingdom” – Christ is always preaching to people about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom draws near, the Kingdom is within you, today you will be with me. The Kingdom not only refers to “heaven,” but the Kingdom truly is life in and with God. We as Christians are constantly trying to manifest the Kingdom in our lives. Our calling is to live in the Kingdom even here on this earth. And while we are offering the prayer of the Liturgy, we are living in the blessed Kingdom of God. Hopefully, when we depart from the service, we’ll carry that Kingdom within us and out into the world. The opening phrase ends with defining whose Kingdom we are blessing – the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We very clearly, proudly, and lovingly proclaim, for all of eternity to hear, that we worship the one true God. We worship the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. We worship the Holy Trinity, one God in three Persons, of whom the Incarnate Jesus Christ our Lord and God is the second Person. We worship the God of the Nicene Creed, the God of the angels and the Saints. We have no space for idols or distractions – and we truly live this as we worship and pray in the Divine Liturgy of our Holy Church.

As we hear this “Blessed is the Kingdom…” in each and every Liturgy, let us not grow used to hearing this as some normal phrase. May we always remember that these words lift us up to heaven – that we stand before the very throne of the dread Lord of Glory, and we offer Him our worship and our prayers along with the angels and the Saints. Truly, blessed is His Kingdom!

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson

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