The liturgy used at Messiah is based on Rite Two from the Episcopal Church’s The Book of Common Prayer. If you’ve been to a Roman Catholic Mass, Lutheran or Methodist service, our liturgy will be familiar. If you’re not sure what to do, just watch your neighbor. We’re a friendly group, so feel free to ask someone nearby.
Our Sunday service begins
Before the service, a prelude is performed on the pipe organ. When the service starts, we stand to sing our opening hymn. An acolyte walks down the center aisle carrying the cross, followed by a lay minister from the congregation carrying the Gospel, and the presiding priest. After the hymn, the priest welcomes the congregation and prays the collect for the day, to “collect” our thoughts so that we may be open to hearing God’s voice. We then say the “Confession of Sin” and absolution is declared. Next we sing the “Gloria,” an inspiring song of praise to the glory of God.
Hearing God’s Word
The first half of the service is the “Liturgy of the Word,” a time to celebrate God’s love in story and song. A member of the parish reads two lessons from the Bible, usually one from the Old Testament and another from the New Testament. A Psalm is read responsively with the congregation. The congregation then stands while the rector reads the Holy Gospel from the middle of the congregation – a symbol of God’s word made incarnate in the world.
Living out God’s Word
A sermon about 12 minutes in length, connecting the Bible readings to stories of everyday life and the ethical decisions we all face. After the sermon, we affirm our faith by saying the “Nicene Creed.” Following the creed, a member of the congregation leads us in the “Prayers of the People,” a time when we collectively offer up our prayers for one’s self, for our loved ones, and for the whole world. The congregation is given the opportunity to add their individual thanksgivings and petitions, either silently or aloud. At the end of the prayers, we stand and greet each other warmly with Christ’s peace saying, “The Peace of the Lord.”
Holy Communion, Liturgy of the TableThe last half of the service is the “Liturgy of the Table.” During a hymn, the children from the congregation pass the offering plate. Then several children bring the communion elements to the altar and the congregation follows them to gather around our free-standing altar. Together we celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the body and blood of Christ received in the consecrated bread and wine. Everyone is welcome to receive the bread and wine. Any one who does not wish to partake, may cross their hands over their chest and receive a blessing. After communion, we sing a meditative hymn and those who wish to receive special prayers of healing and thanksgiving for a physical or emotional concern are welcome to come to the right of the altar to be anointed.
Benediction and Dismissal
The service ends by singing a closing hymn, followed by the benediction and dismissal. We are now refreshed and ready to go out into the world! But there’s no rush to leave – everyone is invited to come upstairs to the Parish Hall for refreshments, often homemade baked goods, and to chat with other members of the congregation.
Link to Messiah Ministers.
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