GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

​(January 24)

There is a tendency to think that the Liturgy of the church is something that the clergy and that lay people are passive. But this is not true. The Liturgy is something done by clergy and laity together. The priest chants or reads prayers, the choir sings and the people sing or recite prayers. For example, the Creed, the Our Father, Lord have mercy, or the prayer before Communion. People send in prosphora with lists of names to be prayed for. Of course the laity light candles and pray for people on their own. This shows that the laity participates in the Liturgy and in the Orthodox Church a priest cannot serve the Divine Liturgy on his own; there must be someone else present.
​This is reflected in today’s Epistle (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) taken from St. Pau’s first letter to the Corinthains. St. Paul writes: “…the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (1 Cor 12:7)” And then St. Paul points out the different gifts of the Spirit; some people have the gift of wisdom, others knowledge, still others may have the gifts of prophecy, healing, miracles and so on. But we see that there is no clergy/laity division here. We all have gifts of the Spirit. St. Paul continues “…one and the same Spirit works in all these distributions to each one individually as He wills.” So all Christians have gifts of the Spirit and all of us are necessary for the church, not only in the celebration of the Liturgy but in the whole life of the parish, diocese and national church. St. Paul writes “A charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit given for the benefit of others. But no one person possesses all of the gifts (1 Cor 12:11 – Orthodox Study Bible, pg. 395)” So we see that the life of the church is a synergy, a working together of God and the believers and a synergy of clergy and laity.

Fr. John