If you have never visited us before or perhaps never experienced Anglican or liturgical worship, here's what you can expect:
You will enjoy a warm welcome. We love visitors! And if at any point in the service you are confused, just ask the person next to you to help. We all had others helping us as we learned to worship in the Anglican way.
Our worship is liturgical, which comes from the Greek word meaning "the work of the people," and carries with it the idea of duty and service. The Liturgy contains two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Sacrament. In the Liturgy of the Word, we read from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, and the Gospels which culminate in the sermon. After we have heard Christ’s word to us we move into the climax of the service, the Liturgy of the Sacrament. This is where the table is prepared and we as the church are prepared to receive Christ in the bread and wine.
You will notice that everyone participates in worship. The congregation does much more than just sing together. We pray together. We join in saying the Creed together. We move together - standing together to sing, sitting together for instruction, kneeling together for praying and for receiving the Eucharist.
You will have the opportunity to join us in praying prayers that have stood the test of time. These prayers have been prayed by Christians worldwide for many hundreds of years and find their roots in the prayers of the earliest Christians. These timeless words beautifully capture our yearning for God and our joy in his love and mercy.
Anglican worship emphasizes the holiness and majesty of God, which calls for our respect and reverence. Such an emphasis is not always present in the worship of other church traditions. Everything about an Anglican service has meaning and points to our need for God and his mercy in forgiving us and making us whole in Christ. This aspect of worship is often forgotten amidst the fray of our busy lives, and reencountering it can be a deeply moving experience.
There is far more Scripture used in an Anglican service than in many other church services, where the only Scripture read often is a small passage that will form the basis of the sermon. We read as many as four readings from Scripture - an Old Testament Reading, a Psalm, an Epistle Reading, and a Gospel Reading. In addition, many of the canticles (ancient songs of praise) we say or sing are from Scripture, as are many of the words in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer.
We don't hold back when confessing our sin. Our prayers leave no wiggle room. Together, we confess that “there is no health in us." We acknowledge our unworthiness to "gather the crumbs under [God's] table." Anglican worship is about admitting we are utterly incapable on our own of pleasing God or earning our salvation, and admitting that only by what he did on the cross on our behalf can we be forgiven and saved. This is the source of our victory, our joy, our peace.
At most of our services, we celebrate the Eucharist, and if you have been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, you are welcome to receive the sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The usher will signal when it is appropriate to exit the pew, and when you arrive at the altar rail you are expected to kneel (unless you are physically unable) in order to show reverence to our Lord. The priest will come by and place the bread on your tongue, and then he will come by with the chalice to give you the wine. If you or your family members prefer not to receive the Eucharist, you may still come to the rail and receive a blessing - just cross your arms across your chest so the priest will know. If you are unable to approach the altar rail for any reason, please inform the ushers before the service. They will let the priest know to serve you in your seat.
We sing hymns - not because old hymns are necessarily better than new ones, but because these songs have lasted through the ages and have stood the test of time. These songs praise God and serve to teach the faith. We believe that there is value in the endorsement of years. You may discover many beautiful hymns that aren't in most American hymnals - powerful songs of praise that will be "new" to you, and which you simply will never be able to forget.
It has been said that Anglicans juggle books. While this isn't literally the case, sometimes it does feel that way. We have a Prayer Book and a hymnal. The page numbers for the collect (prayer) of the day and hymns are posted on the hymn boards on the side wall of the nave, the area where the pews are located. The Psalm will also be listed there. The page numbers are also printed in the bulletin. When possible we try to announce page numbers so people will always know where we are, but if you get flustered, don't hesitate to lean over to the person next to you and ask them where we are in the service.
We don’t just worship with words; we worship with our whole being. At different times during the service you will see people bow or cross themselves. While there are reasons we do so at certain times during the liturgy, our main motivation for doing so is our love of God and our desire that he receive the honor and reverence he deserves.
You will see special colors in the church, colors that remind us of the season of the church year. Anglicans observe the traditional Christian calendar. The season of Advent, during which we prepare for Christmas, begins on the Sunday closest to November 30. Christmas lasts twelve days, after which we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany (January 6). Lent, the forty days of preparation for Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday. Easter season lasts fifty days, concluding on the feast of Pentecost. As the seasons change, so will the colors you see in the church. During these different times the Bible readings are chosen for their appropriateness to the season. During the rest of the year the season after Epiphany and the long season after Pentecost (except for a few special Sundays) the New Testament is read sequentially from Sunday to Sunday. The Old Testament reading is often thematically linked with the New Testament readings. While there are other holy days and feasts throughout the year, this is the basic Christian calendar that has been in use since the early Church.
Our clergy wear vestments that are rich in history and symbolism, clothing that takes the attention off of them as individuals and emphasizes their role in worship, preaching, and in celebrating the Holy Eucharist.
These are some of the things that distinguish worship in an Anglican service. We would be very pleased if you would join us! If you have any questions after the service, please don’t hesitate to talk with our priest or another staff member. We would love to answer any questions you have!