How We Worship

The Book of Common Prayer:  As a Episcopal Church, we use the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as the basis for nearly all our worship.  This tradition dates back to 1549, when the English reformer and Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer wrote the first English-language worship book, which he called the Book of Common Prayer.  In 1662, after a number of revisions, Queen Elizabeth I of England mandated that all worship in England use the BCP; the 1662 version is still the offical worship guide in England.  When the Americas became the United States, however, a new prayer book for the new nation was needed.  Even in the United States, there have been revisions since the first edition published in 1789.  We currently use a book released for general use in 1979, supplemented by trial use materials approved by General Convention (the governing body of the Episcopal Church).

That's a long-winded bit of background about why we use the BCP.

What's in the BCP?  You'll find our principal worship services (Sunday "liturgies" and daily morning and evening prayer services) written out there, along with liturgies for principal Holy Days (such as Ash Wednesday or the Great Vigil of Easter) and celebrations (including Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, and Burials).  The book also contains historical documents and a "catechism" (teachings of the Church). 

On Sundays, we use a worship service, or "liturgy," called "The Holy Eucharist."  But it contains much more than Communion! 

We start with The Liturgy of the Word, beginning with a prayer that calls us to place our selves before God, and a prayer setting forth a thematic prayer for the week, attuned to the Season of the Church Year (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost). 

We then follow with four readings from Scripture -- two lessons from the Old Testament (history or prophecy, and a psalm) -- and two from the New Testament (one from the letters, Acts, or the Book of Revelation, and the other from one of the Gospels).  During the Gospel reading, the priest comes with the Gospel Book into the center aisle, so the Gospel is spoken in the midst of the people, even as Jesus taught in the midst of his followers.

Following the readings is the sermon.  On most Sundays, the sermon will be based on the Bible readings for the day (we use the Revised Common Lectionary, which is used by a number of mainline churches).

We respond to the Sermon with the proclamation of our faith that is the Nicene Creed (a fourth century summation of the nature of God and God's saving grace for all).

Prayers of the People and corporate confession and absolution complete the Service of the Word. 

We pass the Peace to one another and move on to the Service of Holy Communion.  (At Christ Church, our second Sunday service includes at this point a child-focused activity using a "Wonder Box," in which a child places an object and one or another of the adults in the congregation is challenged to find the love of Jesus. 

The offertory begins the liturgy of Holy Communion.  We offer our gifts and ourselves to God, and set them and us aside for a holy purpose.  The history of God's salvific grace is recounted, the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ is proclaimed, and we share a common meal of bread and wine, from a common plate and a common cup.

All baptized Christians are welcome at the Table for this common meal, called the Eucharistic Feast ("Eucharist" is the Greek word meaning Thanksgiving, and we give thanks that God has redeemed us from sin and death.

We use flat wafers for the bread, and wine for the wine.  Those who receive have the option of receiving in one kind only (bread or wine), or of dipping the bread in the cup, or of eating the bread and drinking from the cup, or "chalice."   Those who do not wish to receive the bread and wine may still come forward for a blessing by the priest (cross your arms over your chest is you desire a blessing).  After communion is shared, those who wish anointing with holy oil and prayers for healing are welcome to remain at the altar rail (on the right side of the altar) for that.

We offer a prayer of thanks after communion, and the priest blesses the congregation before the altar party departs down the center aisle.

At the second (10:00 a.m.) service on Sunday, all the above is accompanied with hymns and other music. 

The rector is available to meet with you if you have any questions about our worship.