The Eastern church has long valued the significance of icons as sources of revelation in worship. With insights from the Eastern Orthodox churches, the theological rationale and traditional practice of iconography are described here in terms of its role in worship.
Millions of Christians who live in Egypt and Ethiopia have inherited a rich tradition of worship practices. Each of these churches maintains a variety of ancient worship customs, including the use of music. In Egypt, the congregation participates in the music of worship. The most striking feature of Ethiopian worship is the contribution of the priests, who spend up to several decades mastering the music, poetry, and dance that are used in worship.
Orthodox worship emphasizes the mystical presence of Jesus Christ, a presence that is experienced as the infusion of Jesus’ life in the believer.
What has become known as the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission (AEOM) is part of a movement among Evangelicals and other Protestant Christians toward liturgical and sacramental worship, and toward the rediscovery of the faith and practice of the historic church.
The East Syrian Christians engaged in widespread missionary activity across the Asian continent, but the rise of Islam reduced their communities to small remnants. The liturgy of these churches is doxological in character, filled with expressions of praise and emphasizing the fulfillment of Christian hope in the kingdom of heaven.
The church survived in spite of state interference in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in large part because the peasant classes were devoted to the traditions of the faith, great writers like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky advanced the need for salvation in their works, and dedicated ministers quietly served unofficial flocks.