“Master and Lord our God, You have established in heaven the orders and hosts of angels and archangels for liturgical service (εἰς λειτουργίαν) to Your glory. Make our entrance be the entrance of the holy angels, concelebrating with us (συλλειτουργούντων ἡμῖν) and co-glorifying Your goodness.” (Prayer of Small Entrance, Byzantine Divine Liturgy)
“Transitional” moments in liturgy, just like major “transitional” moments in life, are traditionally accompanied with intensified prayer. The prayer cited above is read by the priest at the so-called Small Entrance, which was originally at the very beginning of liturgy; when the people and clergy entered the church. In the prayer we ask God that our transition from the outside to the inside of the church, our “entrance” into the divine-human “work” of Liturgy, be in harmony with the “work” of the heavenly powers, the holy angels. On earth as it is in heaven. This unity of heaven and earth is an important leitmotif of Byzantine Liturgy.
I’m reflecting on this prayer today, when those of us on the Old(er) Calendar are celebrating the feast of St. Michael and all the heavenly powers, while those of us on the “New” Calendar are celebrating the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. Both feasts remind me today of the importance of entering all of life’s “transitional” moments with prayer, in harmony with God’s will, on earth as it is in heaven. This includes small, daily transitions, like getting up from bed to begin the day, or going from home to church, or from home to work, or preparing for bed; as well as major “transitions,” like moving to a new city, changing jobs, or, for some people, getting married, getting divorced, giving birth to a child, preparing for death, or whatever.
Today let me not fear any changes or transitions in life, but place them all in God’s hands, in communion with those who did and continue to do His will, like the holy angels, and like the “more honorable than the cherubim,” the Most Holy Theotokos. “Thy will be done,” I pray today, “on earth as it is in heaven.”