Prosphoro & Liturgy
Since the Last Supper, before every Divine Liturgy, one or more of the faithful prepare and bring bread to church to be used as the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
The Orthodox church is liturgical. For those of us who bake prosphoro, the liturgy begins as we prepare to bake!
[Church = the gathering of people of faith; Liturgy (λειτουργία) = the work of the people]
Orthodoxy is described as "sacramental". But its deeper. We not only have sacraments which we call mysteria, we understand our lives and the entire cosmos as sacrament.
[Sacrament = physical actions/objects imbued with God’s presence or energies, which we celebrate and from which we benefit]
Bread is the staff of physical life. Jesus is the Bread of Life, of which if any person eat, they shall never hunger. Our bread offering represents the offering of our very lives to God in love. A small sacrifice but one of worth (like a dandelion given by an infant to their mother is precious to her – Fr. Coniaris)
Similarly, the value of our gift of a loaf of bread is greater than the worth of the ingredients and the effort to bake it. It represents everything from our appreciation of His gift of the whole world, sunshine, earth, rain, wheat, the farmers and millers. It symbolises all of us, our families and those we ask to be remembered together being offered in love, as a bloodless sacrifice to God, to be laid on his altar. When we offer worship sacrifices to the Lord, He is looking at our hearts.
Since the beginning of biblical time, the Grain Offering was a voluntary expression of devotion to God
The priest who represents Christ to us, also represents all of us to God. He offers prayers asking that God accepts our gifts and changes them into His body (and the wine into His blood).
'Your own from Your own, we offer You, in every way and for everything' (Liturgy of St John Chrisostom)
It is a great blessing to know about the PROSKOMIDE SERVICE (office of the oblation). Listen to the prayers and petitions here: Video explanation.
So we take God’s gifts, make bread and wine, offer them to Him and He gifts them back to us as His Body and Blood.
“I AM the bread of life.”
Nothing explains these words of our Lord as well as Fr. Schmemman in the first page of his book For the Life of the World. (scroll down)