THE PRIEST’S APPROACH TO THE THRONE
(As the people/choir complete the singing of the Trisagion-Hymn, the priest and deacon proceed, from the front of the altar-table to the space behind it, where there is a “kathedra,“ throne or “High Place,“ along with a seat or seats next to it. In current Russian Orthodox practice, only a bishop may sit in the central “High Place,“ while a priest sits in a seat next to that. As they approach, they say the following): Priest: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Deacon: "Master, bless the throne on high." Priest: "Blessed are You upon the throne of the glory of Your kingdom, enthroned upon the Cherubim always, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen."
Most of us will not be able to see this small detail of Divine Liturgy, just before the Epistle-reading, but really we should be aware of it, as it is the completion of the “movement“ that began with the Small Entrance. Because it is this “throne“ or seat behind the altar-table that is the ultimate destination of the Small Entrance. And, while most of us do not participate physically in the “approach to the throne,“ as we continue to stand in place in the nave of the church, we can “participate“ in the significance of this movement and “follow“ where it leads, in our hearts. I know, that sounds like a tall order, seeing as we are standing in place. But really, it is helpful for us to “move“ with the “movements“ of the celebrating clergy, as best we can, so we can better participate in what we call Liturgy.
Where, exactly, does this movement of the celebrating clergy lead us? To a throne or seat (either the “High Place,“ or a seat next to it), which signifies the “seat“ or presence of God. It is from this “place,“ in the presence of God and “the throne of the glory of His kingdom,“ that we are to hear the upcoming readings of Scripture. So let me come, and approach, handing myself over to God’s “kingdom,“ that is to say, His presence, authority and leadership-style in my life, as I prepare to hear His word. And that means, I distance myself from the pressures of merely-human “authorities,“ including myself and the voices of various ambitions in my head, as well as the ever-changing, oft-divisive voices of our politics today. Blessed is he, or she, who “comes“ in the name of the Lord!