What We Believe
The best expression of our Faith in a simple condensed form may be found in The Creed (Nicea-Constantinople 381):
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all worlds. Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; And ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; And He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets; And I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the Life of the world to come. Amen.
The following is a brief explanation of some of the teachings about the Faith, written by Fr. David, our pastor:
"Who God is" and "Who Jesus is" is central to what it means to be Orthodox. We believe God is Three eternal Persons who share One Essence, hence we are believers in the Holy Trinity. We believe the Father is the Source of the other two eternal Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, who became flesh, taking human nature from His most holy Mother, the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos (Mother of God).
We believe our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. By His Incarnation, teachings, death and Resurrection, the Way is provided for humans to have eternal Life. Without Christ, we are dead, lost, and without hope of eternal happiness or life.
We believe Christ established His Church to be His Body on earth (and in heaven too). He gave authority to His Church, the Holy Apostles, and the Bishops who succeeded the Apostles. This Church has continued from the time of Christ in a visible, historical, and faithful form, teaching essentially the same Faith in all times and places. This ancient Church of Christ came to be called the Orthodox Church. "Orthodox" means "right belief or right worship." The Church had to distinguish itself from various novel wrong opinions (heresies) about God, Christ, and the Faith. The Orthodox Church met in the Seven Ecumenical Councils (4th to 8th century) to discern rightly what is the true Faith and the correct interpretation of Holy Scripture. Through the generations since then, various Holy Fathers and Bishops have expanded and clarified these ancient dogmas, but in no way contradicting what has gone before.
The first major schism in Christianity occurred in 1054, when the Roman Catholic Church separated itself from Holy Orthodoxy. Later in the 16th Cent. various Protestant reformers separated themselves from Roman Catholicism, giving the world today thousands of groups all claiming to be true expressions of Christianity. Some of these groups have more or less things in common with the Orthodox Church, and we do not presume to say how God will ultimately judge individual Christians in these various groups. The Holy Orthodox Church humbly claims to be the same unchanging Church of Christ from the ancient times, the Church in all of the fullness that Christ established. It is therefore of great spiritual advantage to learn about this Orthodox Church and be joined to it.
Today there are canonical Russian, Greek, Antiochian Orthodox Churches along with others of different ethnic and language backgrounds, but they are all truly the same Church, with the same Faith and in communion with each other. At St. Luke Parish, our Orthodox jurisdiction is Antiochian, one of the first Orthodox Patriarchates. We are part of the ancient Church of Antioch, mentioned in the Bible. "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" Acts 11:26.
Being joined to the Orthodox Church is a sacramental experience. Divine worship is very important to Orthodox Christians. In worship we experience a kind of "heaven on earth" and are in communion with our God. Our worship is liturgical, with prayers and actions established by God and written by our Saints. This beautiful worship involves the various senses, along with being very alive spiritually. Often it is helpful to talk with a member or pastor prior to a first visit, to understand some of the elements of worship that may seem strange to a modern American. Holy Communion is given to Orthodox Christians who are prepared to receive it. Nevertheless, our worship is open for all to "come and see." We truly welcome visitors and inquirers.
Salvation is a process of growth and real spiritual transformation for Orthodox Christians. One is initially joined to Christ by faith, repentance, and sacramental initiation (Holy Baptism, Chrismation, and Communion). The salvation process continues as the person overcomes by the Grace of God various passions. One moves through a purification process of on going repentance to sharing the Divine Life. Orthodox Christians read Scripture, and pray regularly trying to get "the mind in the heart." Personal prayers involve the use of established prayers, the Jesus Prayer, and free extemporaneous prayers - all from the heart, as a goal. They go to a spiritual father for confession and loving spiritual guidance, as well as reading Lives of the Saints and other spiritual writings. They share faithfully in all aspects of the life of the Church. They seek to do the will of God in all things, and be conformed to the revealed moral laws of God that do not change but are given for our good. These are proven ways of cooperating with the Grace of God, and preparing for the life to come.
Our Saints are those who have finished this life in faith, repentance, and holiness. We have icons of Saints in our churches and homes, reminding us of their presence along with our Lord who became flesh. We are assured these Saints now live in heavenly Paradise, praising God with the Holy Angels, able to pray for us, as we all await the Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection of the Body, the Final Judgment, and Age to Come.