As the Divine Liturgy is beginning, the deacon says, “It is time for the Lord to act.” For one having grown up in evangelical churches, this sounds like a very curious thing to say. How many sermons have we heard that discuss worship as “liturgy” as, that is to say, the “work of the people”? How carefully are worship services crafted so that the music, the visual presentations, the message, all coalesce together in rhetorical and emotive influences so as to move the worshippers in some way: to repentance, to conversion, to action? And yet here, as the Orthodox are preparing to hear the Gospel and its preaching, and to consume the Body and Blood of Jesus, in the altar is declared the fundamental truth: in this worship service God will act. God will enter our time, uniting it with eternity, and engage in mighty works.
No wonder the impulse to prostrate oneself can be so strong.