“I AM the Alpha and the Omega,” say the Lord God, who is, and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
The “Anaphora” of the Divine Liturgy is the part where the offering of bread and wine is made, and the gifts are consecrated to become the Body and Blood of Christ. It begins after the reciting of the Creed with the words “Let us stand well, let us stand right, let us be attentive, that we may present the holy offering (tin agian anaphora in Greek) in peace.” The priest then offers the blessing “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” He then invites the people to “Let us lift up our hearts.” This is a sign of surrender, that we lift up our whole selves to the Lord—our hearts, our hands, our lives. He then says “Let us give thanks to the Lord.” And the people respond with the words “It is proper and right.” (The quotes from the Divine Liturgy in this paragraph are all from the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, p. 23). The stage is now set for the first of several prayers in the Anaphora, which comprised not only the major difference between the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil and that of St. John Chrysostom. They also represent one of the most complete prayers ever written. The first of these prayers focuses on the Holy Trinity.
There are three persons of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s pretty basic. We hear these names all the time in the Divine Liturgy. They are the names that come to mind each time we make the sign of the Cross. However, each person of the Trinity has different names.
God the Father is also known as the Creator, the Almighty. God the Son is known as the Word, Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, Savior, Jesus Christ, Redeemer. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Comforter, the Counselor, and the Paraclete.
In Revelation 1:8, God reveals Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, after the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This prayer to the Holy Trinity, begins with words of respect and awe, as we invoke the name of God, as “Master, Lord, God, worshipful Father almighty.”
Each of these words is packed with meaning, and has theological consequence towards each of us. If we look at God as “Master” then that puts us in the posture of servants. In a master-servant relationship, there isn’t much room for negotiating anything. The master dictates, the servants follow. We’ve all seen the bumper stickers on cars that say “God is my co-pilot.” What’s wrong with that? For those who fly, the pilot is always in charge and the co-pilot is like the first-mate. The pilot has the ultimate say. If God is the Master of our lives, then He is the pilot. We obey His commands.
The lord of the manor in medieval times was the one to whom everyone bowed and submitted to. If God indeed is Lord of our lives, then we bow to Him out of reverence and respect. Combined with both of these is obedience, the same way we have with the above-described master. He is the Lord, and we bow in respect to Him.
God created us. We did not create God. Therefore, God by His very definition is greater than us. He is the center of things. Our lives are to revolve around Him. It’s not the other way around, where we build a life and try to fit Him in. He is supposed to be the center of life, and ideally everything fits around Him. Putting God at the center puts us in a posture of humility—we are not the center of the world. This runs totally counterculture to the world today, where we put ourselves at the center of everything, where life has become all about us, to the exclusion of the others and of God.
“Worshipful Father Almighty” runs together as one phrase. Yet each word in the phrase is also packed with meaning. When we worship something or someone, we give praise, adoration and glory to that thing or that person. Worship is supposed to be reserved for God. He is the One who is supposed to receive our praise, adoration and glory. We are not supposed to have split priorities when it comes to giving these things. They are reserved specifically for God. “Father” ascribes benevolence, love, compassion and sacrifice to God. The ideal earthly father reflects God to his own children. He acts with benevolence, love and compassion to his children. He sacrifices for them. In return, the children love and honor their father. Unfortunately, many believe we shouldn’t ascribe the name “Father” to God, not because they think God is not a Father, but because there are so many “deadbeat dads” out there that no one wants us to think of God in this category. Finally, the word “Almighty” reflects the all-knowing-ness of God. He knows everything—what’s in our secret hearts, our joys, our pains, indeed, our futures. In placing God with the name “Almighty,” it places Him in the posture of teacher and we in the posture of students. The teacher is always encouraging and trying to make us better, more knowledgeable. We students, are supposed to not only be respectful, but are supposed to be like sponges who are eager to absorb everything that the teacher is teaching.
Before we can worship God, or follow God, we have to believe in God, and to place ourselves in the proper position in relation to God. As we begin the prayers of the Anaphora, and prepare in worship to receive the Holy Spirit to consecrate the Gifts we have offered to become the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, we begin by invoking the name of God. The proper place to begin prayer is invoking the name of God. It’s not a “hey” as we might say in a text message, or a “dear” as we might address a formal letter. It is acknowledging God, in this case, with the addressing as “Master, Lord, God, worshipful Father almighty” and beginning the dialogue that is prayer.
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
View all posts