Since the time of the Apostles, Christian people have gathered together for worship, remembering Christ in the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine. This act of worship has many names: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or the Mass(which comes from the Latin word meaning to send, a word that occurs in the final part of the service as the people are sent out). In the Episcopal Church, the name we use most often is the Eucharist, from the Greek word for ‘thanksgiving’, and this whole act of worship resonates with our thanks to God for all that he has done for us.
At Trinity, we have two Eucharist services each Sunday. The 8:00 AM service uses “Rite 1” from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). This service uses traditional language and includes limited music. It is quiet, but still joy-filled. Our 10:30 AM Eucharist uses “Rite 2” from the BCP, which uses more contemporary language. In addition, this service includes music, such as hymns, songs, and anthems. Children participate in parts of this service and can also attend Church School during the readings and the sermon.
No matter which service you attend, you will notice that…
OUR SERVICES HAVE A NUMBER OF PARTS
We gather in the Lord’s Name, with hymns and songs of praise. In prayer we commend our worship to God.
We proclaim and respond to the Word of God with readings from the Old Testament, Psalms, Epistle, and Gospel declaring the mighty acts of God. The Homily or Sermon calls us to incarnate them in our own words and deeds. We affirm our Faith in the words of the Nicene Creed.
We Pray for the World and the Church, and then call to mind our sins, ask God’s forgiveness and hear the declaration of absolution.
We exchange the Peace, which is not primarily a show of human friendship, but an affirmation of our common identity as the Body of Christ, and an expression of our determination to live in accordance with Christ’s command to be reconciled to God and one another.
We share the Gifts of God in the sacrament of Holy Communion. The offering of bread and wine symbolize the offering of our lives to God’s service. In the Eucharistic Prayer, we pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and the wine may be to us the Body and Blood of Christ, to nourish and strengthen us as we go forth to embody the love of Christ in the world.
LITURGY – THE ACTION OF THE PEOPLE
Every member of the church has a proper function in the Eucharist. Priests and lay ministers, acolytes, readers, chalice bearers, choir and musicians all play in the prayer and praise that we present together.
Members of the congregation participate most obviously in the prayers that all say together, and in the hymns. But we all participate in every aspect of the service, even when we are quiet and still: we worship as we stand or kneel; we worship as we hear the readings and sermon; we worship as we listen to the prayers that others lead, and make them our own.
This service is not something that is ‘performed’ by robed professionals in front of an audience. It is a celebration on the part of the whole worshiping community. We bring to this service the experiences, concerns and hopes that are uniquely our own. In company with our fellow Christians we pray for God’s strength and guidance, and in Communion receive the assurance of his love. At the close of the service we offer ourselves in readiness to serve God in the world, in whatever distinctive way God calls each and every one of us.
A FEW PRACTICAL MATTERS
We realize that the Liturgy can be daunting for someone experiencing it for the first time and we want to do all we can to help make you a part of it. Service bulletins and announcements will indicate page numbers. The red book in the pew is the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). The blue book is the Hymnal, which contains both the service music (written with an S in the bulletin and found in the front portion of the Hymnal) and the hymns of the day (which have a number without a letter). We encourage you to join in the hymns and prayers and to sit, stand or kneel with the rest of the congregation as you feel comfortable.
All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Communion. Simply follow the directions of the ushers and come forward to kneel or stand at the altar rail. If you do not wish to receive Communion, you are invited to come forward to receive a blessing.
You Will Not be Embarrassed
When you visit an Epsicopal church, you will be our respected and welcome guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way, nor asked to stand before the congregation nor to come forward. You will worship God with us.
Please feel free to join in the ceremonies and physical postures of our worship, such as kneeling, standing, making the sign of the cross, as you are comfortable, willing and able.
Should you wish to know more about the Episcopal Church or how one becomes an Anglican, the priest will gladly answer your questions and suggest the way to membership.
based on language adapted from the St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, Roanoke, VA website 09/20/17