Orthodox worship encompasses all of then senses. We see the images, we hear the singing and join our voices to the choir’s, we smell the sweet fragrance of the incense, and if Orthodox, we partake of Holy Communion which is the Body and Blood of the Lord. You will see people making the sign of the cross on their bodies, making bows, kissing Icons and lighting candles. Visitors are invited to participate as much as you wish.
Holy Communion is the real presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, not a sign or a symbol. Therefore only prepared Orthodox Christians may receive Communion since through the use of the word Communion we mean that we are one, in belief and practice. Those not yet in full union, that is, members of the Orthodox Church, may not receive the Sacred Mystery of Communion. In fact, Orthodox should not receive unless they have recently been to Confession, said the pre-communion prayers and have eaten and drunk nothing since the night before. Orthodox who are not known to the priest should speak to him before the service so he will know they are communicants; just ask a member to send word to him.
The bread and wine given at the end of Liturgy are not Communion, but are given as a sign of fellowship, and are called antidoron. This is frequently given to visitors as a gift out of love. The bread is blessed and set apart before communion and should be eaten reverently.
Standing (and kneeling) are the Biblical postures for prayer and Orthodox traditionally stand at Sunday services. But for most people this takes some “getting in shape”, so feel free to sit as much as you wish. We don’t normally kneel on Sundays, as Sunday is the Day of Resurrection and kneeling is considered penitential; we kneel a good bit at weekday services during the Great Fast.
We don’t have a nursery during the services because we believe it is appropriate and beneficial for children to be in the services as much as possible. It may take a few visits, but young children can learn to settle down, and it’s surprising how much even toddlers absorb. It’s no problem if they move about quietly but please be considerate and take them out briefly if they become very noisy.
Orthodox do not talk or visit during the services, If you come in after the service begins it may be that no one will greet you until the service is over. After Sunday services we have Common Meal, a time of food and drink together in the Parish Hall; you’re invited to join us there so we can get to know each other. No one will put any pressure on you to join the Church; many people “visit” our Church for years.