The Beauty of Apostolic Christianity
The beauty of Apostolic Christianity, the liturgy in particular, played a major and crucial role in my move from fundamentalist Protestantism to Orthodox Christianity. The barren intellectualism and severe austerity of fundamentalist Protestant services were bearable, and even vital in forming the basis of my spiritual discipline, but the emphasis on inner holiness, and the resulting stigmatization of any outward show of piety, was an exceptionally repugnant aspect of Calvinism.
Services built around sermons may be intellectually stimulating and instruct much, but they do nothing for inspiring holiness. Indeed, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist should reflect as much as possible, the beauty and glory of Heaven. There, we celebrate with joy, Christ's Passion, and Holy Resurrection.
The words of Prince Vladimir's emissaries after visiting Hagia Sophia in the 10th century come to mind:
"We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty. Every man, after tasting something sweet, is afterward unwilling to accept that which is bitter, and therefore we cannot dwell longer here."