What are worship services like?
The first half of the service is called the Liturgy of the Word. There are opening prayers, and then we listen to an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel passage. Next follows the Sermon, which helps us interpret the readings and apply them to our lives.
After the Sermon, we prepare ourselves for Communion. We say together the Nicene Creed, which is a statement of our faith. Next follows the Prayers of the People, in which we pray for those in our community. (If you would like to add someone to the prayer list, contact the church office. ) After that is the Confession of Sin, and the Absolution, the absolving or forgiving of sins by the priest.
Once we have prayed together, and have become ‘right with God’ again, asking for forgiveness for our wrongdoings of the past and promising to try to do better in the future, it is time to reconcile with our neighbors at the passing of the Peace. This is an important liturgical concept, but it has evolved into a sort of ‘half-time’ celebration for us. We greet each other, including newcomers. Hopefully you were warmly welcomed! It’s a good time to stretch your legs, too.
Next follows announcements, and then it is time to get serious again, with the Liturgy of the Table. (Some people affectionately call this the ‘Holy cooking show’.) The Offertory is given in thanksgiving for what we have received and are about to experience in the breaking of the bread.. Monetary gifts, as well as the Communion bread and wine are blessed at the Altar. There are more prayers as the Communion elements are sanctified, or made Holy.
In the Episcopal Church, all baptized persons are welcome to receive Communion. Non-baptized persons may come up to the Altar rail for a blessing by the priest. At Communion, you will be given first bread, and then wine. (Gluten-free wafers are available; please let the priest know before the service.) You may keep your bread to dip into the cup of wine, or drink from the cup. Ushers will guide you to the front. If you are new, you probably sat in the back – just follow those in front of you. If you don’t want to come up for Communion, just stay seated. After Communion, it’s just a prayer, the Blessing, maybe a quick hymn, the Dismissal and you’re done. After the Dismissal, the response is ‘Thanks be to God!’ You may exit down the center aisle to greet the Rector, or if you are in a hurry, just scoot out. Come downstairs for coffee, tea, or juice, and a bite to eat. There may be someone who offers a tour to newcomers. Please stop and say hello.