How we worship
Sunday Eucharist is offered each week according to Rite II of The Book of Common Prayer, at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. (except on fifth Sundays, when we say Morning Prayer). Everyone is welcome, and we invite all baptized Christians of any denomination (or none) to join us at the Lord’s table.
Visitors’ bulletins and large-print worship aids are always available.
Christians gather regularly to recall their history, to give thanks to God for the gifts of creation and the new life and relationship to god offered by Jesus. The word ‘eucharist,’ which we use for the act of sharing bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus means ‘giving thanks,’ the most basic Christian response to God’s invitation and actions in our behalf.
The act of worship renews and strengthens individuals in their faith, enabling them to translate belief into action in their daily lives. It encourages a sense of awe and reflection upon the mysteries of God. In its order, its language and its silences, it is meant to shift attention away from individuals to the community and to God. It is not done for reward. It is a reward in itself.
Through the centuries, Anglican/Episcopal worship continues in the way of the ancient church. It is not entertainment. It requires participation — that’s why its worship ‘manual’ is called The Book of Common Prayer, prayer for everyone, ‘in common.’ Even the songs (hymns are prayers set to music) are meant to be understood and reflected upon.
As with one’s intellect, the body, too, is called to worship. By assuming different positions, we express different attitudes or ‘moments’ in the spiritual journey — remorse for things we have done wrong, joy in what delights or uplifts us, awe in the presence of holiness, thankfulness, connection to the community around us. The senses are called upon as well, to hear and see the words and objects used to focus our attention on God, to touch and taste and smell — the whole human person is involved in making the presence of God real. Symbols of God’s love and care for us and our wish for unity with God are everywhere.
Silent meditation and opening prayer focus our thoughts. A procession of choir and priests shifts attention from the here and now to a world beyond time.
Readings from the Old and New Testaments set the theme and lessons for the day. The hymns and sung responses reflect these emphases.
A sermon expands on the lessons, and ties ancient wisdom to contemporary life. The Creed is recited as participants’ pledge of allegiance to the God whose word they have heard and understood.
Prayers follow, for creation and every kind of need, including forgiveness of sin. Assurance of pardon and peace with God and all present prepare the way for the central act, the communion.
The offering. Gifts of money, bread and wine are reminders that the fruit of our labor and lives belongs to God. Our lives are offered to God, and we ask for strength to do our part in glorifying God within creation. The command ‘Lift up your hearts’ directs our thoughts to the world to come. The prayer which follows recalls God’s gifts and the sacrifice of Christ. It asks the spirit of God to enter the bread and wine, and the worshippers. Each person receives the bread and wine, symbolizing unity with Christ and each other.
The recession of the choir and priests concludes the service and encourages us to carry the wisdom and gifts received out into the world for the good of all.
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