How We Worship
The Eucharist on Sunday is the central point of our week as Christians. We gather to be renewed in our faith and strengthened to live out our faith in the world. Whether you have worshiped with us often or never before, we hope your experience of worship at St. James' will encourage and strengthen you. The rest of the congregation is blessed by your prayers and presence among us.
Liturgy and Ritual
Here at St. James', we are a “liturgical” church; we follow service forms and pray from texts that do not change much from week to week--though they do shift as we move through the seasons of the Church's liturgical year. This gives worship a rhythm, and many Episcopalians find that rhythm comforting as it allows us to pray without wondering "what's coming next?!"
For the first-time visitor, liturgy may be exhilarating…or confusing. Our services involve standing, sitting, kneeling, singing, 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.
The Holy Eucharist
Although we offer four very different services, they are each celebrations of Holy Eucharist and share many of the same components and the same shape:
- Open with prayer
- Read from the Bible
- Preach a Sermon (interpret the readings appointed for the day)
- Pray for the Church, the World and those in need, for the sick, for those who've died, and to thank God for all the good things in our lives
- Greet one another with a sign of “peace”
- Make Eucharist by taking, blessing, breaking and sharing Bread and Wine
- Sent into the world to serve Christ
What do Episcopalians believe about the Eucharist?
It goes by several names: Holy Communion, the Eucharist (which literally means "thanksgiving"), the Lord's Supper, and the Mass.
At the Last Supper, Jesus shared the bread and cup of wine at a sacred meal with his disciples. He identified the bread with his body and the wine with his blood of the new covenant. Jesus commanded his disciples to continually "do this" in remembrance of him (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Mark 14:22-25; Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:14-20).
In the Episcopal Church, we recognize that Christ is truly present with us as we receive consecrated ("set aside") Bread and Wine in faith. We do not attempt to define precisely how this happens, but instead accept it as a wondrous mystery of our faith. We also recognize that Christ is known in the gathered community. This is our family meal as Christians, and we believe it is a foretaste of the communion with God and one another for which we long and toward which God is bringing the creation.
Can I receive Communion?
All Christians, from any part of God's household, regardless of denomination or age, are welcome and invited to receive Communion in this Church. Please do not worry about “doing it right.” The important thing is simply that you know that Christ welcomes you, and there is no telling how God might reach you in Communion. Just be open.
If you would like to know more about becoming a Christian and being baptized or confirmed, please contact any of the clergy to begin a conversation. We enjoy those kinds of conversations and would love to be in touch with you.
Preparation for worship
- Focus on Sunday worship as the center point of your week. Look forward to it. Read the lessons for the coming Sunday that are listed online.
Arrive at church early for a time of quiet preparation before worship. We need time to become aware of God and of each other. Listen to the organ prelude, which sets the tone for the service, or try using the prayers on pages 833-841 in the Book of Common Prayer as preparation.
- Remember that we are not meant to be either passive or solitary in worship. Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Worship is a drama: the congregation are the players, the clergy and musicians are the prompters, and God alone is the audience.” Worship is something we do together.