What Happens During Worship
Once you take a seat in a pew, you’ll be facing the altar, which is one of the central features of our worship space. In the pews, you’ll find a BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER (RED), a HYMNAL (BLUE). The bulletin will tell you which book to use when. If you’re feeling confused, ask someone sitting near you for help. We don’t want to invade your privacy, but we’re all delighted you’ve joined us and would be glad to offer assistance.
During the service, we pray with our whole bodies. Generally, we SIT to listen, we STAND to sing, and we STAND or KNEEL to pray.
Near the start of the service, we hear some readings from the BIBLE. Usually, it’s a lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures (sometimes called the Old Testament), followed by a Psalm. Next comes a reading from one of the books of the New Testament, and then finally a Gospel reading, which is followed by a SERMON. The goal of the sermon is to bring understanding to one or more of the scripture passages and help us all to understand its significance for our lives today. Usually the sermon lasts about 8-12 minutes.
At the midpoint of the service, we do something that might catch you by surprise. We turn to one another to offer the PEACE OF CHRIST. Some people greet those near them, while others leave their pews. Honestly, it can seem a little rowdy! Occasionally, visitors thought that church was over at this point. If you haven’t experienced the peace before, it might seem strange. The peace follows the CONFESSION – a time in worship where we collectively confess that we have not lived most fully into God’s hopes for us and for the world. Following that, the priest offers ABSOLUTION or forgiveness. It’s within this context that we exchange the peace. Having admitted (in our own hearts) our faults and failings and having received assurance of God’s love and forgiveness, we then offer Christ’s peace to one another. Some people say, “Peace” or “Peace be with you.” You can respond, “Peace be with you” or “And also with you.” Some people shake hands and others give a brief hug as part of their greeting.
At some time during our worship service, there is a COLLECTION of money. The offering provides an opportunity for worshipers to support the mission of the church, both internally and in the community. As our guest, you are not expected to put anything in the collection plate. In fact, many of our members send in their offerings through the mail, so when the plate comes by them, they don’t put anything in. You won’t stand out.