Stepping into an Orthodox Church, the temple feels distinctly different than the outside world. The temple is where the ecclesia (“the assembly”) of the faithful gather together to offer praise and worship to God, and to ask for the forgiveness of their sins.
In Orthodox worship, not only does God descend to us, but we ascend to Him. The Divine Liturgy begins “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” declaring that we are now mystically entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
As we are mystically ascending to heaven, iconography is an integral part of our worship, as it brings the Kingdom of Heaven to us and draws us in. Icons are not just decorative, but symbolically represent the presence of the persons depicted and the truth of the doctrines of the Church. Icons are venerated in the Orthodox Church, as a show of respect and love to the persons, events, or teachings depicted in the icon. Veneration sets us on a path to worshipping God.
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