The Divine Liturgist and the First Worshiper of God
Here is Part I of my ACELC free conference paper (16 April 2013).
The entire paper will be made available on the ACELC website.
At the center is the Lamb upon His throne; Who was slain, and yet, behold, He lives.
He is the King of Glory, the one true God in the Flesh. He is the almighty and eternal Son, begotten of the Father from eternity, but now also true Man, conceived and born of the Woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified for our transgressions. But His Father also raised Him from the dead for our justification, and seated Him at His right hand. He lives and reigns to all eternity in His own glorious Body of flesh and blood. In Him, the fullness of God is embodied: His two natures, divine and human, are perfectly and permanently united in His one indivisible Person.
God and Man are perfectly reconciled and permanently united in Him, the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah in One: He is the Seed of Abraham and the Son of David. In this one Lord Jesus Christ, in His Person and His work, the Lion and the Lamb lie down and rise up together, unto everlasting life.
The transcendence and immanence of God are thus resolved and held together in His one Body, crucified and risen. For He is true God, exalted and glorified, and all things are put beneath His feet. But He is also Immanuel, the God who is with us, who is the true Man, who lives and abides in the flesh forever, closer than a brother. For He is not only like us, but He has drawn near to us, and given Himself for us, in order to save us, to make us His own Bride, to wed us to Himself as one flesh and bone, and of one blood, in such a profound and intimate way that even death shall never part us.
He is the New Adam, and we are His New Eve, given life from His wounded side, and given to Him by the Father in peace and love. He is the Husband of one Wife, His Holy Church; and He is the Head of His Body, the household and family of God, in heaven and on earth. He is our Strength and our Song, for He is our Life and Salvation. In Him, the true and only God is very present and at work, revealing and giving Himself to us: in, with, and through His own human nature, His flesh and blood.
Our foremost interest, emphasis, and concern, therefore, in approaching the Divine Liturgy and true spiritual worship, is the Person and work of Christ Jesus. Not only historically, but here and now in the Life of His Church. For He is both the Subject and the Object of the Liturgy and of worship.
That is to say, not only is He what the Liturgy and worship are about; and not only is He the Content of the Divine Liturgy and of Christian worship; but He Himself is the Liturgist (the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament Priesthood with its liturgy), and He is the first and foremost Worshiper of the Father (the true Man, who is the very Image and Likeness of God, who lives in perfect faith and love).
Having come down from the Father in love, He is lifted up and returns to the Father in peace. He has descended from heaven, even into the depths of our sin and death, in order to ascend with us in tow. He is the Apostle of the Father, who is sent to us from the bosom of the Father, in order to make God known to us. And He is the Author, Perfecter, and High Priest of the Christian faith, who has been sacrificed and slain for us, who ever lives to intercede for us before the Throne of God. He is the one Mediator between God and Man, in whom the Father comes to us and we are brought to the Father.
Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the finish, and He loves them forever. What He has accomplished and completed by His Cross, and manifested in His Resurrection from the dead, He now distributes and bestows by His Gospel: to the ends of the earth, even to the close of the age. His High Priesthood and His Liturgy continue forever. Not only before the Father in heaven, but also in His Church, wherein He is the One who speaks and acts, who does and gives all good things.