"We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.”
Emissaries of Prince Vladimir of Kiev after their first experience of the Divine Liturgy in 988.
It is within the Divine Liturgy that Orthodox Christians gather for fellowship. We hear the Word of God spoken through Scripture (particularly through the Gospel), and then we partake of the Word in the flesh through the Sacramental act of the Eucharist.
By partaking of the Eucharist (Communion), we are united to God and to the Heavenly Kingdom. In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we are told of God’s plan for the world, “As a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth (Eph 1:10).” The purpose of our community is to participate in this fellowship so that God’s work can be completed through the offering of His Body and Blood.
For Orthodox Christians, the Divine Liturgy not only unites us with God, but with each other. This is why unity among the faithful is essential to participating with God. In St. Paul’s First letter to the Corinthians, he warns of the problems that divisions cause within the community, which condemn our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Cor. 11:17-34). Therefore, the divisions that we create amongst each other hinder our full participation with God’s Kingdom. As the Body of Christ, our goal is to be united with one another, so that we can be united with Him. It is this image of authentic fellowship that prepare us for our place at the Heavenly Banquet.