Each week, there are two opportunities to attend a regularly scheduled service: one on Sunday and one on Wednesday.
On Sundays, the hour long worship service begins at 10:00 a.m. Sunday is traditionally when Episcopalians gather for worship. The principal weekly worship service is the Holy Eucharist, also known as: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or Mass. Following the Sunday morning service, all are welcome to partake in light refreshments, coffee, and conversation in the McClintock Room. Visitors will feel most welcome in this congenial atmosphere, replete with southern hospitality and charm.
On Wednesdays, a more intimate gathering meets in the McClintock room at 12:00 p.m. (Noon) for a mid-week soul refresher consisting of a discussion of the upcoming Gospel reading and partaking in the Holy Eucharist.
WORSHIP IN THE EpisCOPAL TRADITION
Worship is at the heart of life in Episcopal churches, and we worship in many different styles, ranging from very formal, ancient, and multi-sensory rites with lots of singing, music, fancy clothes (called vestments), and incense, to informal services with contemporary music. Yet all worship in the Episcopal Church is based in the Book of Common Prayer (referred to as the BCP), which gives worship a familiar feel, no matter where you go. In the Episcopal tradition we think communally rather than individually. We understand that our individual private prayers flow from weekly communal prayer and not the other way around. And through this common prayer we believe that something “more” happens to us – we are formed into the people of God. We believe God calls us together and our worship is a response to God’s call to “come and worship.”
- We gather to proclaim God as revealed in Jesus Christ.
- We gather to express who we are as the body of Christ.
- We gather as a visible expression of our faith journey.
- We gather for each other.
Therefore, worship is a journey – a journey where we find and are found by God, and a journey of finding and being found by others. In spite of the diversity of worship styles in the Episcopal Church, Holy Eucharist always has the same components and the same shape.
The Liturgy of the Word
We begin by praising God through song and prayer, and then listen to as many as four readings from the Bible. Usually one from the Old Testament, a Psalm, something from the Epistles, and (always) a reading from the Gospels. The psalm is usually sung or recited by the congregation. Next, a sermon interpreting the readings appointed for the day is preached. The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed, written in the Fourth Century and the Church’s statement of what we believe ever since. Next, the congregation prays together—for the Church, the World, and those in need. We pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead. The presider (e.g. priest, bishop, lay minister) concludes with a prayer that gathers the petitions into a communal offering of intercession. In certain seasons of the Church year, the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another. This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution. In pronouncing absolution, the presider assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins. The congregation then greets one another with a sign of “peace.”
The Liturgy of the Table
Next, the priest stands at the table, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread or wafers, raises his or her hands, and greets the congregation again, saying “The Lord be With You.” Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the presider tells the story of our faith, 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 presider 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 presider blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the presider breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the “gifts of God for the People of God.” The congregation then shares the consecrated 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.
All Are Welcome
All baptized Christians—no matter age or denomination—are welcome to “receive communion.” Episcopalians invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously. Visitors who are not baptized Christians are welcome to come forward during the Communion to receive a blessing from the presider. At the end of the Eucharist, the congregation prays once more in thanksgiving, and then is dismissed to continue the life of service to God and to the World.
A Liturgical Church
Worship in the Episcopal Church is said to be “liturgical,” meaning that the congregation follows service forms and prays from texts that don’t change greatly from week to week during a season of the year. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to the worshipers. Liturgy is the term for the church's sacramental rites and texts used in public worship. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy is a communal response to and participation in, the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication, or repentance. It thus forms the basis for establishing a relationship with a divine agency, as well as with other participants in the liturgy. In An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (Church Publishing, 2000), Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum explain that "liturgy expresses the church's identity and mission, including the church's calling to invite others and to serve with concern for the needs of the world." Although many liturgies of The Episcopal Church are included in the Book of Common Prayer, newer liturgies, such as same-sex blessings and rites for departed pets, are developed and reviewed by the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission for Music and Liturgy on an ongoing basis. For the first-time visitor, liturgy may be exhilarating or confusing. Services may involve standing, sitting, kneeling, sung or spoken responses, and other participatory elements that may provide a challenge for the first-time visitor. However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.
Calendar of the Church Year
& LITURGICAL COLORS
The calendar (BCP, pp. 15-33) orders the liturgical year of the Episcopal Church by identifying two cycles of feasts and holy days - one dependent upon the movable date of Easter Day and the other dependent upon the fixed date of Christmas, Dec. 25. Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after Mar. 21. The sequence of all Sundays in the church year is based on the date of Easter. Tables and rules for finding the date of Easter Day, and other movable feasts and holy days are provided by the BCP, pp. 880-885. The date of Easter determines the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday and the date of Pentecost on the fiftieth day of the Easter season. The Sundays of Advent are always the four Sundays before Christmas Day. The church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. The calendar also identifies and provides directions concerning the precedence and observance of principal feasts, Sundays, holy days (including Feasts of our Lord, other major feasts, and fasts), Days of Special Devotion, and Days of Optional Observance. The calendar lists dates for celebration of major feasts and lesser feasts by month and date. Appropriate Sunday Letters and Golden Numbers are also provided. (see BCP, pp. 880-881). The calendar also lists the titles of the seasons, Sundays, and major holy days observed in the Episcopal Church throughout the church year, including Advent season, Christmas season, Epiphany season, Lenten season, Holy Week, Easter season, the season after Pentecost, holy days, and National Days.
In worship, we use "liturgical colors" in our paraments, which are the liturgical hangings on and around the altar, the cloths hanging from the pulpit and lectern, ecclesiastical vestments and mitres, and altar cloths. These paraments change to suit the appropriate season. The corresponding "liturgical colors" in Episcopal worship signify our place in the Church Year.
Advent (PURPLE/VIOLET or ROYAL BLUE)
The first season of the church year, beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continuing through the day before Christmas. The name is derived from a Latin word for "coming." The season is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming celebration of our Lord's nativity, and for the final coming of Christ "in power and glory."
In the BCP, Christmas Day is one of the seven principal feasts. The Christmas season lasts twelve days, from Christmas Day until Jan. 5, the day before the Epiphany. The season includes Christmas Day, the First Sunday after Christmas Day, the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and may include the Second Sunday after Christmas Day. In many parishes, the main liturgical celebrations of Christmas take place on Christmas Eve. The BOS includes a variety of resources for use during Christmas, including a form for a Station at a Christmas Crèche, a form for a Christmas Festival of Lessons and Music, and seasonal blessings for use during the Christmas season.
The manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The winter solstice was kept on Jan. 6 at some places during the first centuries of the Christian Era. In opposition to pagan festivals, Christians chose this day to celebrate the various manifestations, or "epiphanies," of Jesus' divinity. These showings of his divinity included his birth, the coming of the Magi, his baptism, and the Wedding at Cana where he miraculously changed water into wine. The day was called "The Feast of Lights." Celebration of the Son of God replaced celebration of the sun. Baptisms were done, and a season of preparation was instituted. It was later called Advent. The solstice was kept on Dec. 25 by the fourth century. Jesus' birth was celebrated on this day in both eastern and western churches. The western church commemorated the coming of the Magi on Jan. 6. The eastern church continued to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and the Wedding at Cana on Jan. 6. In the east the day was called "Theophany" (manifestation of God). The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, in the BCP. The Baptism of our Lord is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Epiphany.
Lent (PURPLE/VIOLET or UNBLEACHED LINEN)
Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).
The feast of Christ's resurrection. According to Bede, the word derives from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre. Christians in England applied the word to the principal festival of the church year, both day and season. Easter Day is the annual feast of the resurrection, the pascha or Christian Passover, and the eighth day of cosmic creation. Faith in Jesus' resurrection on the Sunday or third day following his crucifixion is at the heart of Christian belief. Easter sets the experience of springtime next to the ancient stories of deliverance and the proclamation of the risen Christ. In the west, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Easter always falls between Mar. 22 and Apr. 25 inclusive. Following Jewish custom, the feast begins at sunset on Easter Eve with the Great Vigil of Easter. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Easter on the first Sunday after the Jewish pesach or Passover (which follows the spring full moon). Although the two dates sometimes coincide, the eastern date is often one or more weeks later. Easter Season is the period of fifty days between Easter and Pentecost.
Day of Pentecost and other high holy days (RED)
Pentecost (season) (GREEN)
The season after Pentecost, according to the calendar of the church year (BCP, p. 32). It begins on the Monday following Pentecost, and continues through most of the summer and autumn. It may include as many as twenty-eight Sundays, depending on the date of Easter. This includes Trinity Sunday which is the First Sunday after Pentecost. The BCP provides proper collects and readings for the other Sundays of the season. These propers are numbered and designated for use on the Sundays which are closest to specific days in the monthly calendar, whether before or after. For example, Proper 3 is designated for use, if needed, on the Sunday closest to May 25. Proper 29 is designated for use on the Sunday closest to Nov. 23. Prior to the 1979 BCP, Sundays in this long period of the church year were identified and counted in terms of the number of Sundays after Trinity Sunday instead of the number of Sundays after Pentecost. This period is also understood by some as "ordinary time," a period of the church year not dedicated to a particular season or observance, as in the Roman Rite adapted after Vatican II. See Ordinary Time.
Ordinary Time (GREEN)
This term is used in the Roman Catholic Church to indicate the parts of the liturgical year that are not included in the major seasons of the church calendar. Ordinary time includes the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and the Monday after Pentecost through the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. A vigil or other service anticipating the First Sunday of Advent on the Saturday before that Sunday would also be included in the season of Advent. Ordinary time can be understood in terms of the living out of Christian faith and the meaning of Christ's resurrection in ordinary life. The term "ordinary time" is not used in the Prayer Book, but the season after Pentecost can be considered ordinary time. It may be referred to as the "green season," because green is the usual liturgical color for this period of the church year. The BCP provides numbered propers with collects and lectionary readings for the Sundays of the Season after Pentecost. The Epiphany season includes the Epiphany, the First Sunday after the Epiphany: the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Second Sunday through the Last Sunday after the Epiphany (BCP, p. 31). In view of the Epiphany themes that are presented throughout the Epiphany season, it should not be considered ordinary time. However, many parishes use green as the liturgical color for the Second Sunday through the Sunday prior to the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, and sometimes the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. Epiphany season and the season after Pentecost vary in length depending on the date of Easter (see BCP, pp. 884-885).
“Wherever you are on your walk of faith, you are welcome at this table.”