|Sunday Morning||8:00 am – Holy Eucharist, Rite I
10:30 am – Sunday School (in the Parish Hall)
10:45 am – “Celebrate the Mystery,” Holy Eucharist
(Coffee Hour following the late service)
The 8am and 10:45am services are webcast live each Sunday, Eastern Time. You will need Real Player to view these webcasts; Real Player is a free download at www.real.com
|Thursday||7:30 am – Holy Eucharist
(Breakfast and Fellowship follow at Wendy’s Towne Restaurant)
|Sunday Morning||9:00 am – Holy Eucharist, Rite II
(Coffee Hour following in the Fellowship Room)
9:00 am – Sunday School (in the Sunday School Room)
In worship we unite ourselves with one another to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, to offer prayer and praise, and to celebrate the Sacraments. The Celebration of Holy Eucharist is the central act of worship in accordance with Jesus’ command to His disciples.
Episcopal services preserve the rich worship and tradition of the historic Church. All present participate actively in this joyous response to God’s love.
Sunday is traditionally when Episcopalians gather to worship. In most churches now, the principal worship service is the Holy Eucharist, or as it is also known, “The Lord’s Supper,” “Holy Communion,” or “The Mass.” In most Episcopal churches, worship is accompanied by the singing of hymns, and in some churches, much of the service is also sung.
There are many different styles in which Episcopalians worship, from very formal, almost Catholic styles that have lots of singing, music, vestments, and incense, to very informal spoken styles that have less music. Yet all worship in the Episcopal Church is based in the Book of Common Prayer, which gives it a familiar feel to Episcopalians, no matter where they go.
Worship in the Episcopal Church is said to be “liturgical,” which means that the congregation follows the same service and prays from texts that don’t change very much from week to week during a season of the year. The sameness from week to week gives the worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to the worshipers.
Liturgy can be confusing, however, or difficult to follow for the first-time visitor. It often involves switching between two or more books or a service pamphlet, and there may be a lot of standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, and sung or spoken responses.
We begin with the praise of God through singing and prayers, and then listen to as many as four readings from the Bible. Usually, they are one from the Old Testament, a psalm, and one from the Epistles, but there is always a reading from one of the Gospels.
There is usually then a sermon or meditation on the readings given by the priest.
The congregation recites the Nicene Creed, which was written in the Fourth Century and has been the Church’s statement of what we believe ever since.
Liturgical worship can be compared with a formal dance: Once you learn its steps and movements, you learn to appreciate its rhythm and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.
Next, the congregation prays together-for the Church, for the World, and for those in need. We pray for the sick, we thank God for all the good things of our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead.
Then usually, the congregation confesses its sin before God and before one another. This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, and the priest “pronounces absolution.” In so doing, the priest assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins.
The congregation greets one another and wishes them “peace.”
Next, the priest stands at the table, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread-or thin, crispy wafers. Then he or she raises his or her hands and greets the congregation again: “The Lord be With You.” Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the priest tells the story of Christianity, from the beginning of Creation, through the choosing of Israel to be God’s people, through our continual turning away from God and God’s calling us to return. Finally, the priest tells the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (communion) as a continual remembrance of him.
The priest blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the priest breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the “gifts of God for the People of God.”
The congregation then shares the bread and the wine. Sometimes the people all come forward to receive the bread and wine; sometimes they pass the elements around in other ways.
We give thanks and are sent out to bring what we have heard and received into the world.
The watching and waiting is coming to an end. With joyful bells and carols, we celebrate the birth of Christ with three festival services. Join us Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.