How We Worship

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How We Worship

First Impressions

  • In any Episcopal church, the service is a rich celebration filled with color, light, music, movement, and sometimes the unusual scent of incense.
  • The service does not focus on one clergy person, rather, the roles of leadership during worship are shared by many, both lay and ordained, men and women.
  • Rather than just sitting and listening, the congregation participates actively throughout the service, speaking, singing, standing, kneeling. We love to hold hands while we say the Lord’s Prayer (a St. Mark’s tradition). Regardless, all of our actions during worship are prayer.
  • There’s much singing in the service. Our musical offerings at St. Mark’s come in all shapes and sizes from contemporary/folk rock at our Family Service at 9:00 AM to Choral Music in the Anglican Tradition at 10:30 AM.
Liturgy
 
We are a liturgical church, meaning that we have a set form of worship that we follow during services. The word liturgy comes from the Greek meaning “a work done by the people”.
 
When our mother church, the Anglican church, was established in the 16th century, forms for worship were set out in a Book of Common Prayer to be used by all churches in England. The services in the Book of Common Prayer were essentially those that had historically been used in the Roman Catholic Church, but with an important change. They were now designed for greater understanding and participation by ordinary members of the congregation. For example, the service was now in English rather than Latin so that the common man or woman could participate. Fast forward to today and we still follow the same liturgical forms in our Sunday worship.
 
The central focus of our worship service is called “Eucharist”. It is a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving.” It is also known as the Lord’s Supper or Communion. The basic pattern of the Eucharistic liturgy goes back to the earliest years of the Christian Church. The act of sharing the bread and wine during Communion , therefore, ties us together with all those who have come before us, and since it is unlikely that the Church will ever cease to celebrate the Eucharist, this celebration ties us together with those who will come after us. In the Eucharist, we find a connection with God, and with a community both present, and yet beyond ourselves.
 
Silence
 
You will notice that from time to time in the liturgy, silence is kept. The first time you encounter such a silence, it may seem awkward, because you might not know how to use it. The key is to let God use it. You may reflect on the reading or sermon you have just heard, but most of all, try to still your mind and listen. Real worship begins when we stop telling God what to do, and begin to listen to God. This often involves silence and waiting.
 
Music
 
St. Mark’s parishioners love variety in our musical offerings and this is why you’ll see three very different services on Sunday morning. Our early service is small, contemplative and led by Helga Bartus on the organ. The 9:00 Family Services with the No Exceptions Band led by Shane Totten has a fantastic repertoire of secular and Christian worship music that really rocks. Our late service offers a full Choir in the Anglican Choral Tradition led by our Choir Director, Todd Peterson and Helga Bartus on the organ. There is literally something for everyone.
 
For Episcopalians, music is a form of prayer and has a specific function in the liturgy. When you sing a hymn, or contemporary worship song, listen to the words and allow God to use the music to speak to you. In its purest expression, church music can be wordless prayer, so keep your mind and heart open for something you many not have heard before.
 
Receiving Communion
 
The climax of the Eucharistic liturgy is when we come to the altar and receive the bread and wine which has become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, thus uniting us to him and receiving him into ourselves, that we may be transformed, as the bread and wine has been transformed. Most visitors who are not Episcopalians wonder whether it is permitted to join us at the altar for this sacrament. All baptized Christians are welcome to come to the altar and receive the body and blood of Christ at communion. It is not required that you be an Episcopalian, or that you be a member of this church. To receive communion, come forward when directed by an Usher and stand or kneel at the railing. Hold out your hands with the palms upward, forming a cross, to receive the bread from the priest. When the chalice bearer comes to you with the wine, gently take hold of the cup at the base and guide it to your mouth. If you would rather not receive either bread or wine, simply cross your arms over your chest – which is a universal sign that you’d like to receive a blessing from the priest.
 
Adapted from: www.metanoia.org