At St. John's, the service of hearing the Word of God and receiving the Holy Communion is generally referred to as the Liturgy - a word which means "the work of the people." However, one will likely hear other names for this service, too: the Holy Eucharist, the Lord's Supper, or the Mass - a traditional and appropriate term. It is a catholic term universally understood by Christians to refer to this service
The formality of our worship finds its structure in The Book of Common Prayer
. This book serves as the basis for the worship in every congregation of the Episcopal Church. However, each parish may approach the details of ritual and ceremony differently. St. John's uses many of the options offered in the book. Still, the general pattern of worship and the texts used in worship are consistent from parish to parish, no matter where one is worshipping.
We believe that the Sunday Liturgy is fundamental to our life, both as individuals and as a faith community. Regular worship is at the center of our common life. Our services offer many features which help to bring us closer to God:
Biblically Based -
The Liturgy of the Word in each service consists of four scripture readings: one reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament, and the Gospels. In addition, much of the rest of our service is taken directly from the Bible.
Eucharistically Centered -
We recall Jesus' command at his last supper with his disciples to "Do this in remembrance of me" as we regularly receive Holy Communion; our central act of corporate worship is the Eucharist.
Liturgical in Nature -
Words, actions, music, and visual symbols combine to express our understanding of God's presence in our world and in our lives.
Overview of Sunday Service
As we worship, we present our lives—our doubts, uncertainties, triumphs and hopes— and offer them up to God in praise and thanksgiving.
On Sunday, our primary worship, which we call liturgy, is the Holy Eucharist, sometimes called Holy Communion or the Mass. In the first part, The Liturgy of the Word we concentrate on hearing the Word of God as written in Holy Scripture. Lessons from the Old Testament or Hebrew Scripture, the Epistles or Letters of Paul and the early apostles, and from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are heard. These readings are not arbitrarily chosen, but are ecumenical (prepared by scholars from a variety of major denominations) and are appointed to be used throughout the Episcopal Church according to a calendar called the Lectionary.
In addition, we offer prayers, we hear the Word of God interpreted in a sermon; we confess our faith and pray for the needs of the world; and we confess our sins and receive the grace of forgiveness. One of our Sunday services includes the choir which leads the congregation in hymns and psalms under the direction of our organist.
The second half of the liturgy, the Holy Communion focuses upon the altar and the celebration of the Holy Communion. We do this in obedience to our Lord's command at the Last Supper: "Do this in remembrance of me" - words that we still use faithfully in every celebration.
The elements of bread and wine are distributed to God's People as they either stand or kneel. We believe that, when we gather around the Holy Table to share a simple meal of bread and wine, we re-member the Body of Christ. All baptized Christians are invited to come forward and receive the Sacrament - regardless of denominational affiliation
How one can be involved in the administration of St. John’s?
The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.
- Acolytes: The acolyte acts as assistant to the Deacon(s), Celebrant and other ministers. An acolyte leads the procession, carries the Gospel Book, and is vital to the flow of the liturgy. Acolytes need to have some flexibility to meet the diverse challenges that can arise in the liturgy; they need a calm and patient persona; they must maintain a confident demeanor; and above all they need to feel comfortable in their work. Acolyte training is open to both children and adults.
- Servers: Likewise as diverse a job as the acolyte’s, the server(s)
most often acts as minister of ceremony (directing other ministers and
readers), assists the Deacon(s) at the altar table, serves as Chalicist
and sometimes stands in other roles as required in the liturgy. Because
of the many responsibilities in this role, older children and adults are
preferable for this role.
- Lay Readers: There is more to reading in the liturgy than simply
speaking words on a page. A Reader should be prepared to read, as well
as comfortable with reading in front of the congregation. The art of
reading to a large group requires presence, pacing, annunciation,
inflection and projection (both with and without the use of the
microphone). Of course all of these are skills which can be learned, but
are sometimes overlooked. The role of Reader can offer some challenges,
yet is also a great entry point for people interested in serving.
- Altar Guild: Traditionally this group was strictly for women, however, things change. So anyone who is interested in not only helping with the set-up, decoration and care of the sacred things of our church should consider serving with the Altar Guild. This ministry is perfect for those who enjoy the quiet behind-the-scenes type of service. Along with the care and service of liturgical items, the Altar Guild has opportunities to be part of the shaping of liturgical practice, and even the chance to learn a bit more about our liturgy and tradition.
- Greeters/Ushers: More than simply handing out bulletins, taking collections and directing traffic; it is the job of the Ushers to help parishioners and visitors feel welcomed. In a sense, the usher is the icon of the parish, and is often the first person that a visitor meets at our church. If you enjoy being out-going, and meeting new people; consider serving as an usher.
- Choir: The choir practices each Sunday at 9:15 AM. The choir participates in the 10:30 liturgy most Sundays.