In both traditions the liturgy of the word consists of a petition for forgiveness of sins, hymns, prayers, biblical readings, a homily or sermon concerning the biblical readings, and a declaration of faith through the recitation of the creed. The biblical readings generally follow a pattern of presenting three related texts. One text is from the Old Testament, another from the Letters of the New Testament, and the last from one of the four Gospels. The readings also follow a cycle, so that a broad collection of scriptural readings is heard over a number of years. Listeners thus encounter the fullness of divine revelation. The homily is not intended to be a sermon covering any subject the priest might choose, but is meant to be an exposition of the contents of the three texts.
"What shall we offer thee?"
Beautiful prayers are a feature of the Orthodox tradition, such as this one for Christmas Day, which celebrates how all of creation contributed something to the Incarnation:
What shall we offer Thee, O Christ, who for our sake was seen on earth as man?
For everything created by Thee offers Thee thanks. The angels offer Thee their hymn; the heavens, the star; the Magi, their gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, the cave; the wilderness, the manger; while we offer Thee a Virgin Mother, O pre-eternal God, have mercy upon us..."
—Hymn for vespers, Christmas Day
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