The best thing about "Journey to the Kingdom" is its simplicity. By simple I do not mean that it is plain, quite the contrary, but in a simple manner an ignorant layperson such as myself enters behind the scenes of the liturgy and gains an understanding of its scope and purpose as well as its deep routed origins.
An Orthodox liturgy brings the first church to life and by reading this book it provided me with a poignant reminder of how great a heritage an Orthodox has. This is why I hope that by reading this book we will be encouraged to attend service on time, not just before communion, and whilst in church let go of the world to partake in the mystery.
On a personal note, I had for many years rejected Orthodoxy as irrelevant and stuck in tradition. The alternatives available however...prosperity gospel/ salvation for the elect few/ mass gatherings with induced hallucinations/ make it as you go along kind of Christianity left me frustrated and in want of something more and deeper and by reading "Journey to the Kingdom" I was reminded of what I have been missing; some authenticity in my spiritual life. Would therefore highly recommend it.
I would like to thank Fr Vassilios Papavassiliou, as, since I became a Greek Orthodox Priest I was looking to learn some important things about the Holy Liturgy. Why we do this, why we go there etc. I found all this information included in one book!!! Fr Vassilios was the one who wrote it and I have to thank him and give him my kindest wishes for his Priesthood and for his "literary future"!! Congratulations!!!
Father Vassilios' short introduction to the Liturgy is in fact a deeper insight into the worship, practices and beliefs of the Orthodox Church as a whole. It is written in a simple, approachable style much like a conversation, yet explains complex theological ideas in a clear and intelligible way without dumbing them down. It serves as a reminder to the Orthodox Christian of the real depth of meaning and mystery of the Liturgy while at the same time serving as a guide book or map for the non-Orthodox inquirer who may have stumbled across the Orthodox Liturgy and wondered what it is all about. The book is beautifully laid out and there are little information boxes throughout containing vital tidbits of theological and historical knowledge. This is somewhat lost in the electronic version- where the pagination is not set and these boxes sometimes break the flow- where they don't in the original book version. I still thoroughly recommend this book and if you buy a physical copy you won't regret having such a classic and useful book taking up space on your shelves.
This book is an excellent account of Orthodoxy: compact and accessible. It follows the order of the usual Sunday service in the Orthodox Church, and provides teaching on worship and on faith and the Gospel. We are taken carefully through the Creed, and basic Christian doctrine is explained. We are presented with the holiness of God and our need of repentance; prayer is explained, together with the meaning of Holy Communion and of Baptism; and we are given a glimpse into the hope of Resurrection, the joys of the Kingdom of God, and the need for Christian witness to the world. The book is written by an `insider' and is suitable both for fellow insiders (Orthodox Christians), and for outsiders - for anyone inquiring into the ancient Christian faith. Highly recommended!
This book will be of great help to those who desire to understand the Divine Liturgy, and the traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Following writers like Kallistos Ware or Thomas Hopko, Fr Vassilios expertly explains the routine, start to finish. In this book you follow the liturgy. The reverend further goes in to depth the creed and the Lord's prayer, both well known amongst church goers, yet always in need to be explained. This book will be of great help to those known and unknown to the Orthodox church.
As for the author, outside of this book his speeches, sermons and online lessons are of great help. He deals with the complex in a way understandable to all of us. It is without doubt that we will see from this more to come, and that many unknown to Orthodox Christianity will find out more, and those who wish to know more of their own faith will find this book of great help, especially in this time of increasing ecumenism, it is more important than ever that people should get to know the Orthodox Church and its rich history and traditions.